Surfers in Nelson Mandela Bay call for beaches to be reopened

TAKING A STAND: Surfers in Nelson Mandela Bay picketed at the parking lot near the popular surfing spot the pipe on Saturday, demanding beaches be opened for surfing.
Image: Raahil Sain

Surfers in Nelson Mandela Bay picketed at the parking lot of a popular surfing spot The Pipe on Saturday, demanding that beaches be reopened.

The surfers say the beaches should be reopened under a controlled “surf and go” policy.

Eastern Cape beaches were closed in December under revised level 3 restrictions.

Under the revised level 3 restrictions, beaches in hotspot areas remain closed until the hotspot designation is lifted.

Surfing SA president, Johnny Bakker said surfers respected Covid-19  regulations, however he said they were appealing to authorities to have the rules adjusted to permit surfing in a controlled environment.

Bakker said while Surfing SA was not directly involved in the protest, local surfers were protesting to voice an increasing frustration with the ban on surfing.

He said surfing was not a contact sport and thus a safe activity in terms of the required social distancing.

“We have proposed a controlled surfing environment based on a ‘surf and go’ principle whereby surfers are permitted to surf but leave the beach immediately once they have finished surfing.

“Surfing is making a debut at the Tokyo Olympic Games in less than six months’ times and SA is the only country where the beaches are closed thus making it impossible for surfers to gain access to the ocean and catch waves,” Bakker said.

A regular surfer, Andre´ Clarke, 44, said the closure of beaches did not make logical sense.

He said gyms were opened with scores of people in close proximity unlike surfers.

“I feel like government does not understand. It’s not about special privilege, it’s about something [surfing] that is not going to harm anyone,” Clarke said.

BY RAAHIL SAIN

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