Surfers in Wales are being given conflicting advice about whether they should return to their beloved sport.
With another sunny bank holiday predicted this weekend some sporting activities in Wales have been allowed to resume but for others the guidance isn’t so clear.
A letter to members of the Welsh Surfing Federation (WSF), posted on their Facebook page on May 19, said: “Following the government’s latest guidelines regarding exercise (11th May 2020), the Welsh Sports Association (WSA) have made it clear that surfing is not prohibited as a local activity”.
The letter went on to say: “If you decide to choose surfing locally as your outdoor activity, under the current lockdown conditions this is your personal decision and responsibility”.
Members were urged to consider whether they were healthy or were showing symptoms of Covid-19, that they were sufficiently skilled not put themselves or others at risk, whether they had a beach locally, to check the conditions were safe to surf and ensure social distancing was adhered to before they decided to surf.
“Irresponsible behaviour will only put pressure on the authorities to act and apply longer lasting lockdown measures and an even longer wait to return to surfing for everyone,” it concluded.
However the differing rules across the British administrations have led the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which is responsible for policing both English and Welsh waters, to clarify their stance on whether people should be returning to Wales’ bays and beaches for watersports such as surfing.
“With significant numbers of people expected to take to the water this weekend in England, HM Coastguard is asking everyone to take extra care in extraordinary times.
“Boating, swimming and other sea-based activities are now allowed once again in England under the new Government guidelines but now more than ever people need to respect the coastline.
“In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales the lockdown remains and people should continue to follow the guidance to stay home,” said a spokeswoman for the MCA.
Swimming in the sea is now allowed as daily exercise in England along with paddle boarding, surfing, windsurfing, rowing, kayaking and canoeing but this is not the case in Wales.
The start of the bathing water season in Wales, which usually begins on May 15, will also be delayed until at least June 22 this year for water sampling to take place to ensure the safety and cleanliness of Welsh waters.
Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard said: “Coronavirus hasn’t gone away and we all need to follow the rules.
“Remember your choices might put people, including yourself and frontline responders, at risk. Take extra care in these extraordinary times.
“In England #StayAlert – in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, nothing has changed. Give the coast a miss #StayHomeSaveLives”.
Golfing and fishing, both arguably sports that allow easy social distancing, have been confirmed as acceptable forms of exercise by the Welsh Government.
However for other activities the latest Welsh Government guidance on exercise says people should not drive away from home to exercise and it should instead be “local, involve minimal risk, and be done in accordance with advice on social distancing”.
Other acceptable forms of exercise in Wales are running, walking, and cycling a “reasonable distance” from your home. Although there is no specific distance limit it is understood that “reasonable” means as far as you can reasonably walk.
The Welsh Government’s ‘stay at home’ message stands in contrast with the latest ‘stay alert’ guidance in England, where people can now get in the car and travel as far as they want to get their daily exercise.
In Wales, for both golf and fishing, the activities must only be undertaken on your own or with someone from the same household, whereas across the border in England people can meet those from another household if following social distancing rules.
A Welsh Government spokeswoman confirmed that people were still being asked to stay at home unless totally necessary and that although people can exercise more than once a day exercise should be local to their homes.