Surfing on the Bukit During Covid-19 Lockdown

26/4/20

Covid rules and regulations

The Covid-19 rules and how they currently apply to surfing here on the Bukit is a bit confusing for a foreigner to understand and locals also seem similarly confused about what is and isn't allowed. This is partly due to the way that the different levels of government work here in this massive archipelago.

The Indonesian government decide restrictions on entering the country and the airport is under federal control. There is also a federal plan for Covid-19 but to implement this it's necessary to provide regional epidemiology reports to the government. Bali doesn't have enough cases to qualify and the number of cases are barely increasing.

The Bali provincial government enacted a tight lockdown for a week at end of March and the governor declared a state of emergency — issuing instructions that roughly translated to English stating "social distancing controls are necessary" and this was followed up by the Badung regency also issuing an edict regarding "social distancing controls".

thomas-beach-closed-covid-19-bali

The level of government below the regency is the Cemat (district) who closed the beaches and also introduced movement controls into the area. The fourth and lowest level of regional government is the Banjar and in this area, they do not seem to have actioned any control. This is not the same in west and north Bali where there are tight controls on who is allowed to enter the villages.

The locals in our local area have been very respectful of all rules and complied with social distancing. After a few weeks of nobody visiting the beaches, some local fishermen eventually went fishing and this has been accepted by all as an allowed activity.

No tourists are allowed in this area but locals are allowed to go to the beach and fishing is currently very popular as both an activity and a source of protein.

Surfing during the lockdown

There is no regulation to stop you surfing, so what the problem with surfing?

The problem is with access mostly and if the Cemat, Banjar or landowner don't allow you access then you can't get to the beach without breaking a rule.

If there is no physical barrier and locals don't want you to surf then surfing is not allowed. It is the will of the local community that is the important aspect to consider and that is what some tourists are failing to understand.

Can local surfers surf?

Balinese are very rule-following and compliant people and will respect their elders. They also treat social distancing with a similar level of respect. If their local community say it ok to surf then it's ok to surf subject to access but if their local community don't want any surfing, then it is not an allowed activity.

Big swell season is upon us

Local surfers have been on dry land for over a month and it's getting harder and harder to find any sort of science-based reason to keep them out of the water.

This sentiment is being echoed internationally in other world-famous surf locations like Hawaii and Australia where surfing is either allowed already or will be imminently.

It seems that the tipping point to surfing becoming commonplace again in Bali could be very close and will come suddenly like a dam bursting.