Coronavirus: RNLI suspends beach lifeguard patrols

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RNLIImage source, RNLI /Lewis Timson
Image caption,
The RNLI said it was "too early" to know when beach lifeguards would return

Beach lifeguard patrols are being suspended "until further notice" amid the coronavirus pandemic, the RNLI has announced.

Lifeguards had been due to start duties at a number of beaches this weekend but the RNLI has postponed the patrols.

It said seeing lifeguards would "encourage people to visit beaches", which is against the government's advice on essential travel.

The RNLI patrols 240 UK beaches in the summer.

The organisation said it hoped that "once the current situation changes, and government guidance allows, we will be able to re-establish the lifeguard service and employ those lifeguards onto the beaches" but it was "too early to know when that might be".

It warned people living in coastal areas who did not have to drive to the beach and wanted to exercise to follow its safety advice, practise social distancing and avoid non-essential contact with others.

The change for beach lifeguarding does not affect lifeboat stations.

The national governing body for surfing in England has advised surfers to avoid riding the waves during the lockdown.

Surfing England said surfers should "stay at home" to avoid putting themselves and others at risk with "non-essential travel".

It said: "There may be a lucky few who can walk out their door and jump into the sea, but for the vast majority of us who need to travel to the beach, it should now be considered off limits.

"This is a tough call to make, but one we should all respect as we collectively fight the spread of Covid-19."

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