RNLI pleads with government to restrict beach access until lifeguards back in place

A rescue charity boss is pleading with the Government to stop people visiting the country’s beaches.

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 9:22 am

Chief Executive of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) is asking ministers to restrict access to the coast until it has lifeguard patrols back in place.

In an open letter, he says the lifting of restrictions which allow people to travel to the coast has put the RNLI in “an impossible situation”.

His letter comes after two people died in Cornwall yesterday (Monday).

Stock image. JPI Media/ Richard Ponter

His letter reads: “Despite our warnings that there were no lifeguards on patrol this weekend, crowded beaches, hot weather and big waves meant our lifeboat crews had their busiest weekend so far this year. At least two people lost their lives.

“This puts the RNLI in an impossible situation. With thousands flocking to English beaches now lockdown restrictions have been eased, we must choose between keeping the public or our lifeguards safe.

“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.”

He goes on to explain that the charity are working hard to source PPE that will work on a beach and in water, and train lifeguards in procedures that will reduce the risk of infection.

In addition, he said it is facing an expected £45m shortfall in funding by the end of the year because many fundraising activities have had to stop.

His letter concludes: “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.”

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