Sea change in approach

Lifeguard service suspended as RNLI urge people not to use sea for recreation

Sea change in approach

The advice is clear: stay away from beaches this Easter.

By Damian Mullan


By Damian Mullan


THE message couldn't be simpler: stay away from beaches this Easter.

Politicians of every hue have been warning us for days about the implications of not practising social isolation.

Now, the RNLI and local council have joined forces to bolster the argument.

The former is asking people to refrain from using the sea as recreation over the holidays while Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has announced the withdrawal of RNLI beach lifeguard cover at a number of its beaches.

"Under normal circumstances, many people would be heading to the coast this weekend to enjoy the Easter bank holiday," said a RNLI spokesperson.

"Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, both organisations are urging everyone to follow government instructions, which are clear: stay home, protect frontline services and save lives.

"While you are allowed out for daily exercise, we do not recommend that this exercise is on or in the sea and all travel restrictions must be observed.

"SAR services including RNLI lifeboat service, Coast Guard Helicopter services and Coast Guard units are still available but every callout has the potential to put additional pressure on SAR services and other front-line emergency services as well as potentially exposing them to COVID-19.

"We know people who live near the coast still want to exercise by the sea, but when you do this, please think of the potential impact of your actions on RNLI lifeboat volunteers and other emergency services."

It's a similar story as far as the local council is concerned as it follows strict government advice.

"In previous years, the RNLI has provided beach lifeguard cover on behalf of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council at Benone Strand and in Portrush at West Bay, East Strand and White Rocks," explained a council spokesperson.

"The decision to temporarily suspend lifeguarding at these beaches has been taken in accordance with Government advice and has been applied throughout the United Kingdom.

"During this time, the public are urged to exercise caution if they visit a beach and are asked to continue to follow guidance around staying at home and making only essential journeys. Remember to always maintain social distance and make sure to frequently wash your hands. Additionally, the public are asked not to take part in any activity that may place unnecessary strain on the emergency services.

"Following the UK Government’s instruction for people to stay at home and avoid gathering outdoors due to the coronavirus outbreak, the RNLI has made the decision to immediately pause RNLI lifeguard patrols.

"Lifeguards work and train in groups, which makes keeping the requirement to remain two metres apart difficult and the nature of their work with the public puts them and beach visitors at risk of close contact.

"Also, their usual activity includes encouraging people to visit patrolled beaches and swim in certain areas – this activity would go against the Government’s clear instruction for people to stay at home, maintain social distancing and not to congregate in groups.

"It is hoped that once the current situation changes, and government guidance allows, beach lifeguard services will be reintroduced."

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