The head of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has called on the government to keep people away from beaches until lifeguard patrols return.
Mark Dowie, the lifeboat service’s chief executive, wrote to the government in an open letter urging people to avoid the seaside where possible where RNLI patrols are not operating.
“With thousands flocking to English beaches now lockdown restrictions have been eased, we must choose between keeping the public or our lifeguards safe,” Dowie wrote.
“Safety advice and warnings will only go so far when people are desperate to enjoy some freedom after weeks of lockdown.
“As a lifesaving charity, the RNLI cannot stop people going to beaches – but the Government can – before more lives are lost around our coast this summer.”
It follows the deaths of two people in separate incidents along the Cornish coastline on Monday.
A 17-year-old girl died after a boat capsized near Wadebridge and a man died after being pulled from the water by a member of the public in Padstow.
The RNLI says it is still working out how to do in-water rescues and give first aid whilst observing safety protocol related to coronavirus.
Since rescues are normally conducted at close quarters and with people coughing up water, it poses a risk of the infection spreading.
Lifeguards also have to be trained in procedures to reduce the risk of infection and given adequate personal protective equipment.
"All this takes time and we learnt of the lifting of restrictions at the same time as everyone else,” Dowie added.
"So, we're asking for help to manage an impossible situation – we're asking the public to heed our safety advice and we're asking the Government to restrict access to the coast until we have lifeguard patrols back on beaches."
"Only then can we keep the public safe from the sea and our lifeguards safe from the virus."
Yahoo News UK has contacted the Department for Transport and the Department
of Health for comment.
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