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Popular Bali beaches at Canggu and Uluwatu reopen so foreign surfers can catch waves during COVID-19 lockdown

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Foreign surfers in Bali are now allowed back onto two of the island’s popular surf beaches after authorities said they felt sorry for them because they couldn’t catch a wave.

And Bali tourism officials didn’t want them sneaking through bushes to avoid the beach barricades and getting bitten by snakes.

The two beaches which opened Monday are Canggu and Padang Padang beaches, in the Canggu and Uluwatu areas – and only for foreigner surfers, not locals.

Like much of the world, Bali has been in coronavirus lockdown for months now, with all beaches and tourist areas closed, and flights cancelled.

Up to 2000 Australians are believed to have stayed in Indonesia despite Australian government calls for citizens to return home amid the COVID-19 pandemic and warnings that healthcare standards are low.

But on Monday a decision was made to open some beaches.

Beaches across Bali are closed as a result of coronavirus. Credit: Firdia Lisnawati/AP

Badung Tourism Agency chief, Made Badra, told 7NEWS.com.au that the two beaches which opened on Monday were for foreign surfers only.

“There is a surfer community in the area and they have asked for access to surf. They have promised to follow the health protocols,” Made said.

Conditions

“So we decided to facilitate them, with many requirements.

“They should wear a mask when entering the beach.

“The village COVID-19 task force will check their temperature before entering the beach and those who have a temperature of more than 38 degrees will be told to go back.”

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‘They feel dizzy, a little bit stressed’.

Made said he feared the diehard surfers could suffer snakebites from deadly snakes if they continued clambering through bushland to get to closed beaches.

“If the access is not opened I am worried that they will continuously access the beach through the bush and they would be bitten by snakes. It is way more dangerous.”

Made said locals would still be banned from accessing the beaches.

A surfboard leans against the wall in Bali.
A surfboard leans against the wall in Bali. Credit: Paul Miller/AAP

Asked if this was discriminatory, Made said the westerners had been stressed about missing out on their surfing.

“We just feel pity for them, staying in Bali but they can’t go to a beach. They feel dizzy, a little bit stressed,” he said.

“We want to make sure that all foreigners that still stay in Bali are happy being in Bali.”

Meanwhile, Kuta beach remains closed.

Kuta customary village chief Wayan Wasista, said they were waiting on advice from the government about the right time to open.

Sanur beach also reopened on Monday to fishermen and local traders only.

Pity for surfers

It comes as Bali announced its fifth coronavirus death since the pandemic started – a 57-year-old man from Mengwi in Badung who died in a Denpasar hospital on Sunday night.

He is one of 17 people in his village to have contracted COVID-19 after a government official from Jakarta visited – to train locals in clean water management – and brought the deadly virus with him.

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Bali is setting up health protocols and procedures in advance of a reopening of the island to tourists, which officials hope can happen as soon as July or August.

Some have floated the idea of a travel bubble between Australia, one of the biggest markets, and Bali.

Made said the island was now 95 per cent ready to welcome tourists.

He said this would boost the now ailing local economy and the 34,000 hotel employees who had lost their jobs or been into forced unpaid leave as result of the pandemic.

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