William Eichler 17 June 2020

Lifeguards return to beaches in preparation for summer

The UK’s beaches will see an increase in the number of lifeguards this summer as people visit the coast despite the risk of Covid-19.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) says it is hoping to have lifeguards on around 170 beaches by early July – 70% of the beaches it would patrol in a normal summer.

‘We are now confident we can provide a more comprehensive lifeguard service this summer safely, despite the continuing challenges created by the pandemic,’ said RNLI chief executive, Mark Dowie.

‘The first few weeks having lifeguards back on beaches has helped us properly test the new ways of operating and reassured everyone that we can accelerate and expand our plans.

‘Our original plan to lifeguard 70 beaches this summer was a conservative one, made when many things were still unknown. Now, though, we have a better idea of the journey out of lockdown for all parts of the UK, understand the new regulations with which we must comply as an employer and service provider and, most importantly, feel we can properly manage the risks associated with Coronavirus. So, we are revising our plans and adding to the number of beaches we can lifeguard this summer.’

Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Safer and Stronger Communities Board, welcomed the decision.

‘It is reassuring to know that lifeguard provision will increase as this country faces what could be its busiest ever summer beach season, with many schools closed and restrictions on travel abroad,’ he said.

‘Recent tragedies have shown that coastal locations can be dangerous places to visit and should serve as a warning that there is a genuine risk to life if people don’t take care and follow safety guidelines.’

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