Representatives from New Zealand’s Search and Rescue, Water Safety and Outdoor Recreation sectors are encouraged by positive signs that people are in general following advice to stay at home and save lives.
Duncan Ferner, the NZ Search and Rescue Secretariat Manager is pleased with the positive results so far.
“There has been a huge reduction in searches and rescues around New Zealand since we went into Alert Level 4. Keeping your exercise simple helps us keep our volunteers safe and frees up emergency services to concentrate on the current crisis”.
At the same time, these agencies, including Government agencies and NGOs have come together again to encourage everyone to keep playing their part as the long weekend approaches.
“Easter is traditionally a time when kiwis get out on the water or into the outdoors so this message is as important now than ever. Now is not the time. Our playground will still be there when we all get through this,” says Jonty Mills, Chief Executive of Water Safety New Zealand.
“This is a time for New Zealanders to pull together to ensure that our emergency and rescue service, most of whom are volunteers, are available to help those in highest need,” says Mills.
The rules were made even clearer over the weekend by Director General of Health and the Police in releasing this official advice.
- Exercise is to be done in an outdoor place that can be readily accessed from home and two-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.
DOC facilities are out of bounds during Alert Level 4. Recreating in the great outdoors must be put on hold as long as the country is in lockdown.
Mountain Safety Council Chief Executive, Mike Daisley says generally, New Zealanders have been following the Government’s rules about staying local when getting out to get some fresh air.
“This means in walking distance, not driving to a park or beach nearby and certainly not heading into the bush to go tramping or hunting. This is for your safety but also for that of search and rescue personnel who put their own bubbles at risk each time they respond,” says Daisley.
The message is clear. Stay home, stay safe and help save lives this Easter. This is a time for all Kiwis to pull together and if everybody plays their part, we will get back to enjoying our great outdoors sooner rather than later.