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Seven out of 10 beaches won’t be patrolled by lifeguards this summer

PUBLISHED: 14:20 06 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:20 06 May 2020

RNLI plans just 70 lifeguarded beaches this summer, should the lockdown be lifted. Picture: RNLI

RNLI plans just 70 lifeguarded beaches this summer, should the lockdown be lifted. Picture: RNLI

Archant

Seven out of 10 beaches across the country will not be patrolled by RNLI lifeguards this summer, should the lockdown be lifted.

The charity hopes to provide a lifeguard service on around 30pc of the beaches it usually covers.

Rollout of the normal seasonal lifeguard service was paused in March due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The RNLI has been looking at plans to resume a lifeguard service, and aims for lifeguard patrols to reach 70 beaches by peak season. Beaches will be chosen based on risk and popularity and the RNLI will also look to achieve a geographical spread. There are 17 RNLI lifeguarded beaches in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie said: “The RNLI is incredibly proud of its highly skilled lifeguards who work alongside the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews, HM Coastguard and other emergency services. RNLI lifeguards are professional lifesavers and will be essential when the lockdown is lifted.

“The current situation means that the operational logistics and training behind setting up a lifeguard service – normally in full swing at the moment – have had to stop. Re-establishing this infrastructure and distributing equipment to beaches will take time. And we must also make sure that conditions are safe for our lifeguards to provide an effective service.

“Our lifeboat volunteers have been on call 24/7 to help those in trouble at sea throughout the coronavirus outbreak – and will continue to be so this summer.”

MORE: When lockdown ends, what will ‘new normal’ mean for everyday life?

The news comes just days after fears were raised that the region’s beaches could be left dangerously unprotected with many lifeguards forced to find work elsewhere for financial reasons. The government has not included them in its job retention scheme. A group of over 430 seasonal lifeguards has launched a campaign to appeal for support from the government.

Tom Houghton, RNLI senior lifeguard in Newquay, said: “With the prospect of restrictions being lifted in the summer months, the worry is that the beaches will see record numbers of families and other visitors flocking to the coast - it will be a real struggle for lifeguards to provide any kind of lifesaving service without financial support for the staff now.”


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