SLSNZ Operational Restrictions during COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and 4 - Memo #6

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Memo #6 - March 24, 2020

Further to Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s (SLSNZ) COVID-19 Memo # 5, item 3, SLSNZ in conjunction with Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) have sought further clarification from our key emergency service partners regarding yesterday’s government announcement that New Zealand had reached Alert Level 3 of 4 on the COVID-19 Alert System, with the view to extend this to Level 4 within 48 hrs, i.e. by Wednesday 25 March.

The New Zealand government has not listed surf lifesaving as an essential service, and as such SLS services are not permitted to operate while the COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and 4 are in place, accept as detailed below.

  1. Only those Emergency Call Out Squads (ECOS) that are currently registered with SLSNZ or SLSNR are permitted to respond directly to NZ Police Category 1 requests for assistance.
  2. Any club, ECOS or member who is alerted to any other incident must first call 111 to report the incident, and seek permission to respond from the Police SAR Coordinator, or local Police.

SLS expects all emergency call outs will be activated through existing and well established channels i.e. NZ Police to SLSNZ for incidents in the Eastern, Central and Southern Regions, and NZ Police to Surfcom for SLSNR incidents.

SLSNZ and SLSNR recognise that not all clubs, ECOS, or members of ECOS will be willing or able to respond while COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4 are in place. Respective Regional Lifesaving Managers will be in contact with Clubs/ ECOS to confirm their availability, or not, to respond to requests for assistance by the NZ Police, if requested, while COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4 are in place.

There is no expectation, nor penalty if clubs are not able to assist, for whatever reason. Once availability of ECOS has been confirmed, Regional Lifesaving Managers in conjunction with the National Lifesaving Manager will contact the participating clubs over the coming days/week to advise them of the protocols and procedures that are expected of them during this heightened period of alert.

SLSNZ and SLSNR also recognise that there are unique local contexts that may require a departure from established procedures in these challenging times. Clubs should contact their Regional Lifesaving Manager to discuss these on a case by case basis and to ensure that all potential hazards and risks are adequately considered.

For all queries relating to this Memo, please contact Ross Merrett, Safety, Welfare & Risk Manager,


For more information, please contact: 

Melanie Louden
Media and Communications Manager
Surf Life Saving NZ
021 757 433