Police threaten to fine Gold Coast surfers at Tweed beaches
GOLD Coast surfers and beachgoers have been targeted by NSW police and community leaders ahead of the Easter long weekend.
Tweed Shire Council has closed beachside carparks 24 hours after Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate closed beachside carparks from Main Beach to Coolangatta.
Beach carparks have closed at 22 sites from Duranbah beach down to Pottsville.
Tweed Mayor Katie Milne said rangers will be patrolling the Tweed to discourage people from breaking the rules.
Ms Milne said unauthorised cars that entered a closed public carpark would be fined.
She said she held "grave concerns" about the potential for large groups of people gathering in public places over Easter.
"While most people are doing the right thing and staying at home, there are those who are not and who are continuing to travel to spend leisure time on the beach with others and ignoring physical distancing," Ms Milne said.
"From Thursday night, you should only be visiting your local beach for the legitimate reason of exercising or going for a surf, ensuring you abide by social distancing measures.
"Stay in your local area, your local postcode only."
Councillor James Owen said it was a unanimous decision by councillors to close the beachside carparks in a move which was unprecedented in the council's history.
He said the council had little option but to take the drastic action after the Gold Coast did so on Tuesday.
Mr Owen said despite numerous approaches to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for the state to close the border and prevent an influx of Queenslanders, especially over Easter, their concerns had gone unanswered.
"Closing the border has gone beyond just being a health recommendation but is now a societal issue," Mr Owen said.
"We are being inundated with Tweed residents calling for the border to be closed and they are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of action by the NSW Government.
"What concerns me and my fellow councillors is that tensions are rising, seeing Queenslanders freely coming and going and that could lead to a tense situation.
"There is no doubt that there is a growing amount of resentment over this issue but people have to remain calm and clear thinking.
"Our council rangers will be out enforcing the carpark closure and I appeal to Tweed residents to be respectful to them and the police who are simply going about their duties."
Mr Owen was disappointed the concerns of the Tweed had not been acted on by Macquarie St.
"Unless you live in a border community you can't understand just how intertwined Tweed Heads and Coolangatta are or how this border issue is causing divisions in our community which normally wouldn't be there," he said.
"Tweed people are abiding by that but when we have Queenslanders coming down to our beaches and seemingly ignoring the social distancing and travel rules, it's no surprise that locals are getting hot under the collar.
"Closing the border seems a logical and sensible thing to do and our community is calling for it."
Tweed Byron Police District commander Superintendent Dave Roptell warned Queensland surfers if they were caught at a northern NSW beach, they would cop a fine.
Superintendent Roptell said surfers travelling into northern NSW looking for better surf was not essential travel. "Your beach may be closed on the Gold Coast, but you coming down to surf the waves at any of the beaches in northern NSW is simply not on," he said.
"That's not essential … and we will take action.
Superintendent Roptell said police would be out in force over the long weekend for Operation Tortoise - a statewide road safety campaign targeting motorists.
He said officers will be ensuring motorists were abiding by road rules and complying with the coronavirus regulations.