- WSL / Laurent Masurel
- WSL / Laurent Masurel

After China, people in Europe were among the first to feel the far reaching impacts of Covid-19. And as governments introduced their own quarantine and social distancing rules, it soon became apparent that surfing was off limits.

As this experience is a template that many other countries around the world will likely soon follow, we'd thought we'd check in on the current situation.

The Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro France landscape. Hossegor, France. - WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot


Italy, the nation hardest hit by the pandemic, was the first to introduce the measures. On March 9 the government imposed a national quarantine, restricting the movement of the population except for necessity, work, and health circumstances.

"I live 100 metres from the sea and of course I want to go swimming and surfing, but I can't even go for a walk," Italian surfer Robert D'Amico told the WSL. "There is financial penalties and even jail terms for breaking the isolation rules.

"Right now we just have to forget about surfing, or whatever your passion is and think about being healthy. We have to do what ever it takes to get back to our normal way of life. The waves will always be there."

The quarantine rules were originally set in place for three weeks, up till April 3, but this is likely to be extended. The government has the right to keep the lockdown -- in full or in part -- until the existing state of medical emergency expires on July 31.


Spain, the next country hardest hit, followed the same route as Italy. They have recently declared that same strict measured already in place will be extended until April 12. The Basque country has been a hotspot of Covid-19 and surfers have been unable to enter the water. That meant that last wee,k pumping Mundaka wasn't surfed for the first time since the early 1970s.

"On hold until next call," posted Aritz Aranburu, with some gallows humour. Aritz along with Basque legends like Naxto Gonzales and Kepa Acero have all been vocal in campaigning under the #stayathome hashtag.


In France, the new quarantine laws were introduced on March 15 and have recently been extended until April 15. The first few days coincided with an epic run of swell and initially some surfers were, if we are being generous, unsure whether surfing contradicted the rules.

Heavy fines handed out by the Gendarmes at the Hossegor carparks soon clarified that. Recent reports from Hossegor say the police have now been using drones and riding electric bikes on the beach to stop surfers entering the water.

With no surf, surfers have been forced to come up with inventive ways to train and stay sane. Jorgann Couzinet though may have found the most novel way to do both, and exercise his dog as well.


Portugal declared a state of emergency, with similar measures as France, Spain and Italy, on March 15 for two weeks ending on April 2. However it is assumed that will be extended this week. Again, with a good run of swell last week, epic waves at Coxos, Supertubos and Nazare have all been left unridden.

For Portuguese surfers like Nic Von Rupp, the enforced isolation has been a time to reflect. "The most valuable thing in life is freedom," he posted. "Good to sit back, take a breath and think on how we have always taken things for granted. Life, Love, freedom isn't a guarantee. Enjoy every step, every laugh, soak it all in while we can."

As surfers all over the world either endure a lockdown, or prepare for one, they are wise words. We are living through unprecedented times. One thing we know is that the waves will keep coming.

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