Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery has warned would be beachgoers that there is no guarantee that they'll be able to access the city's coastline this summer.
Less than two weeks out from the start of Wollongong's swim season, on September 26, Cr Bradbery said he was well aware of the problems which could be caused as officials try to manage the expected larger-than-usual crowds in the coronavirus environment.
"We're going to have lots of people who come down here, who travel a distance, and who will be expecting to go to our beaches and utilise our ocean pools," he said.
"People can't travel, especially overseas, and recreational activities are going to concentrate on the coast.
"If we as council see violations of social distancing on the beaches, with police we will have to consider even closing the beaches if it can't be controlled. I hope it doesn't come to that."
To try to manage the looming problem, Wollongong is working with seven Sydney councils to come up with a uniform beach strategy.
Cr Bradbery said the strategy was in development with Local Government NSW, and that it would most likely include a set of rules that would guide councils in calling the police on rule breakers or closing beaches.
He said this was necessary as any overcrowding in Sydney - which could force the closure of those beaches like it did in March - could then push the problem south to Wollongong.
"Even before that though, the pressure is on for Wollongong, because we're the closest point on the coast to the major population centre in South Western Sydney," he said, noting that that region has been the epicentre of the most recent NSW outbreaks.
"Any place where people gather can be a problem, and the COVID virus is still with us and just keeps on popping up, especially in the Sydney metropolitan area. But there's not much we can do about that - we just can't close the borders of the LGA.
My message is, do not automatically think that you'll have access to a beach or a pool this summer.
"But it is a very real worry for me."
"I can see lots of issues with people being frustrated about being barred from going to beach or an ocean pool, simply because their expectation will be that they've travelled all that distance and it should be available to them."
"My message is, do not automatically think that you'll have access to a beach or a pool this summer.
Cr Bradbery said the councils were jointly looking at who has responsibility for enforcing coronavirus rules, and ways to make sure their lifeguards did not have to be involved in the enforcement of social distancing.
"We're looking at what the thresholds are, when do you call the police and all those sorts of things," he said.
"There's a suggestion that you might have to put out the message for people to go to the beaches early or later in the day to avoid the possibility of crowds."
He said the council may consider a model similar to that used in the Royal National Park, which is automatically closed in certain situations or when the park's capacity has been reached.
"It's very much like the national park during the bushfire emergency, where the message goes out that the parks are closed on certain days," he said.
"We'll have something probably very similar. We will be putting out messaging to Sydney and South Western suburbs pretty early in the swimming season that if you're going to travel to Wollongong, you need to check that the beaches are open and not crowded."
"There is going to be a limit to the number of people who can use out beaches at any one time this summer."
Surf Lifesavers have also warned of bigger crowds as the weather heats up.
"I think we're in for a real busy one, given the current situation and travel restrictions," director the Illawarra Surf Life Saving NSW branch Daren Weidner said.
"In the Illawarra, we get a lot of people coming down from South Western Sydney and Western Sydney, and Sydney beaches are going to be overflowing as well, so they're going to be looking for alternatives."
SLSNSW recently opened a new state operations centre, which will give lifesavers access to better communications and emergency coordination technology during the busy summer.
President of SLSNSW George Shales said COVID-19 meant the centre would play a pivotal role during summer, in monitoring beach attendance and assisting councils and authorities to coordinate beach closures if requested.
"With many more people expected to head to the coast this summer, we want to send a strong message to all beachgoers to respect the advice and direction of surf lifesavers and lifeguards - particularly regarding beach safety but also regarding social distancing requirements," he said.
"This season we are reminding beachgoers to swim between the red and yellow flags at patrolled locations but to also adhere to the health orders regarding social distancing."