The Northern Beaches Council plan for COVID-19 control of public spaces over summer has been revealed.

With international and interstate travel off the cards, and an economic downturn, many Sydneysiders will be spending their holidays at home.

Popularity of the Northern Beaches is likely to soar over summer and Council has developed a plan of management for public spaces.

A Council document has been published that details the plan to control access to beaches and ocean pools, parks and BBQ areas, outdoor seating, playgrounds, skate parks and walking trails.

The first key aspect of the plan is each public space has been identified and a capacity defined by the area available and the NSW Health guidelines for physical distancing.

For beaches, the capacity calculation will be based on a ‘usable’ area of sand, which will be 150m each side of the flags.

One of the plans to improve capacity at beaches is to erect additional flags at some beaches where it can be done safely.

Beach capacity will be also affected by tide, with Long Reef fluctuating between 5k people at low tide and 4k people at high tide. Mona Vale will allow 6k people at low tide and 4k people at high tide. Shelley Beach will be allowed 1,500 people at low tide but only 500 people at high tide.

The other key aspect of the plan is management of crowds according to threshold levels. Counts will be taken at four intervals during the day, 10.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm and 4.00pm.

  1. Up to 75% of public space capacity will be considered ‘stage one – low to high density’. In this stage the only activity will be monitoring and announcements for physical distancing.
  2. From 75% to 90% of public space capacity will be considered ‘stage two – high to very high crowd density’. This will trigger an hourly count and warnings that the area is nearing capacity. In this stage car parks will be closed to vehicles entering.
  3. Above 90% of capacity will trigger ‘stage three – very high to full crowd density’. At this point the public space will be closed with the assistance of police and people will be required to leave.

The plan raises additional considerations such as:

  • Add additional flagged areas at some beaches
  • Increased cleaning of public seating, lifts and handrails
  • Restricting beach parking to reduce crowd numbers
  • Limiting parking times available at pay and display machines
  • Adding additional toilet capacity to reduce gatherings
  • Use of drones to facilitate crowd monitoring

It is not clear under the plan how crowds will be managed and counted as the tide comes in. A crowd that falls within stage one at low tide, such as one thousand people at Shelley Beach, might trigger a stage three beach closure at high tide.

Also unclear is whether people required to leave an area would be reimbursed for the unused value of parking tickets purchased.

Council has published the COVID-19 Summer Action Plan for Outdoor Public Spaces on its website.

Find the capacity for your favourite beach or park in the table below.

Beach crowd capacity

North Palm Beach high tide

North Palm Beach low tide

Palm Beach high tide

Palm Beach low tide

Whale Beach high tide

Whale Beach low tide

Avalon high tide

Avalon low tide

Bilgola high tide

Bilgola low tide

Newport high tide

Newport low tide

Bungan high tide

Bungan low tide

Mona Vale high tide

Mona Vale low tide

Warriewood high tide

Warriewood low tide

North Narrabeen high tide

North Narrabeen low tide

Birdwood Park high tide

Birdwood Park low tide

Narrabeen high tide

Narrabeen low tide

Collaroy high tide

Collaroy low tide

Long Reef high tide

Long Reef low tide

Dee Why high tide

Dee Why low tide

North Curl Curl high tide

North Curl Curl low tide

South Curl Curl high tide

South Curl Curl low tide

Freshwater high tide

Freshwater low tide

Queenscliff high tide

Queenscliff low tide

North Steyne high tide

North Steyne low tide

Manly high tide

Manly low tide

Shelley high tide

Shelley low tide

Little Manly high tide

Little Manly low tide

Recreation area capacity

Clontarf Reserve

Little Manly Reserve

East Esplanade

West Esplanade

North Harbour Reserve

Forty Baskets

Freshwater Beach Reserve

James Meehan Reserve

Lionel Watts Playground

South Curl Curl grass area

Collaroy Beach Reserve

Berry Reserve

Apex Park Mona Vale

Winnererremy Bay Reserve

Clareville Beach

Governor Phillip Park

Dee Why Beach grass area

Shelley Beach grass area

Image: Shutterstock