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Adelaide coronavirus cluster and forecast hot weather create 'perfect storm' at city beaches

By Eugene Boisvert, Wednesday November 25, 2020 - 13:01 EDT
ABC image
With a tramline running to it, Glenelg is the most convenient beach to Adelaide's CBD. - ABC

With Adelaide , beachgoers are being warned to be both water- and COVID-safe.

The Bureau of Meteorology is also predicting a 40C day for Saturday ? the last time it was this hot was at the end of January.

South Australia is still under after .

However, a planned six-day lockdown became a three-day one after it was .

SA Health , however it is not mandatory.

'Perfect storm' at beach

Surf Life Saving SA president John Baker described the city's recent coronavirus cluster combined with the hot weather, the end of year 12 and community sport being cancelled as a "perfect storm" of beach-related risks.

Most aquatic centres are either closed or only open for lap swimming.

"As highlighted by SA's Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, we are expecting an influx of people at the beach," Mr Baker said.

"With high visitation numbers, we know the risk of tragedy is higher and our teams therefore remain 24/7 rescue-ready to respond to emergencies if required.

"With all community sport fixtures cancelled, including our own carnivals, camps and training, we know South Australians will be looking to head to the beach as a way to cool off from what is an uncertain time for our state.

"We all need to remember the core beach safety messages of swimming between the flags, 'stop, look and plan and know your limits'."

While normally supportive of more visitors coming to her city's beaches, Holdfast Bay Mayor Amanda Wilson said she hoped people held off until December 1, when the Premier has said he hoped to get the state back to a "COVID normal".

"Once we get to that point, we'd be happy to welcome as many people as we can," Ms Wilson said.

She said it was important people socially-distanced where possible, including in shops and on the tram.

"Glenelg does have a wide beach and that can accommodate a lot of people," she said.

"It's a tricky balancing act and I'd encourage people to book if they're going to dinner and wear a mask if they're shopping."

Beaches linked with spread

were heavily criticised at the start of the pandemic, while and , hot days have been linked with spikes in coronavirus diagnoses.

Australian Medical Association state president Chris Moy said South Australians should show common sense and not crowd the beaches too much this week.

"Hopefully we've knocked it out but our recent events show we should not become complacent, especially this week when we're still in the midst of an outbreak," Dr Moy said.

While authorities often recommend elderly people go to places such as shopping centres and libraries to keep cool in heatwaves, Dr Moy said they should stay at home at this time.

"Use air conditioning or at least a fan to keep air circulating," he said.

"Drink fluids and get other people ? loved ones ? to keep an eye on you and certainly they're the important things."

Flinders University epidemiologist Emma Miller said people tended to spread apart at the beach and any good from wearing a mask in the water was "completely negated" if it got wet.

"My feeling is the amount of community spread is so low it's unlikely to be a super-spreader event at the beach if people are appropriately spaced, with or without a mask," she said.

"However, if you were in a shopping centre and there were a lot of people there, it wouldn't hurt to pay attention to the South Australian Government's advice."

SA Health's advice is to wear face masks whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres away from other people.

"We are strongly recommending people wear face masks at shopping centres and supermarkets, on public transport, and at hospital, health, and aged care sites," a spokeswoman said.

Build up to hot exercise

Adelaide Bikram yoga instructor Amy Kreminski runs classes in 40C heat.

She said people could exercise wearing a face mask in hot weather but only if they were used to it.

"You don't want to go outside and do two hours straight away," she said.

"It's something you build up to.

"I would suggest building up 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there."


© ABC 2020

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