COVID-19: At Easter, stay out of the water, off the beaches and stay safe

09 April 2020

With Easter approaching, the Safer Boating Forum is telling people that by staying home, we are all helping keep our family, friends and other people safe - and doing our bit to get our country through this really difficult time.

Forum Chair and Maritime NZ Deputy Director, Sharyn Forsyth said all 24 of the Forum’s member organisations are supporting the Ministry of Health and know everyone in New Zealand has a part to play in combating COVID-19 – we are all in this together.

“We know Easter is a time when people usually travel, get outdoors, go to beaches and get out their boats, kayaks and other water craft,” Ms Forsyth.

“But this Easter, for the safety of everyone, we just cannot do those things, as boating is not permitted at COVID -19 alert level 4.”

Staying home over the long weekend also gives an opportunity to catch up on some of those jobs that we might have put off. For example, pulling out all of our dive gear and checking that it’s ship-shape, or taking everything out of the boat that’s in the back yard or shed and making sure lifejackets, communications equipment and other gear is still working properly. It’s also a good chance to perhaps do some maintenance on the boat, kayak or other water craft.

Prep, check, know

“Prep, check, know” is part of the Forum’s safer boating campaign. It encourages boaties to: Prep your boat (or your kayak, or jet ski etc.), Check your gear, Know the rules. If you have your boat or other water craft like jet skis, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, etc. at home, and do not have to travel to get to them, there are some things you can do over Easter. These will help get ready for when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and you can get back on the water.

There is simple information about “prep, check know”, the boating safety code, lifejackets and more at You will see that information comes from the Forum’s summer campaign that has just ended but it is just as relevant now.

Why we can’t travel

“Every time we travel we increase the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. The further we travel and the more of us travel, then the greater that risk,” Ms Forsyth said.

Also, activities like boating, surfing, swimming, going into the bush or the mountains, come with their own risks. If we get into trouble or get hurt and need to be rescued, then we, emergency services, volunteers and everyone else who helps in the rescue have to come out of our “bubbles” and all of us are at greater risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

Harbourmasters around the country will be working closely with the Police and other agencies to make sure that people are ‘staying in their bubble’ and not venturing out on the water this weekend.

Official Health Notice

The Forum also supports the Ministry of Health’s latest Health Notice which provides more guidance on the rules during Alert Level 4, including:

  • Exercise is to be done in an outdoor place that can be readily accessed from home and 2-metre physical distancing must be maintained.
  • Recreation and exercise does not involve swimming, water-based activities (for example, surfing or boating), hunting, tramping, or other activities of a kind that expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services. Further information about exercising safely can be found on the official COVID -19 website.
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