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Don’t go in, or on the sea, Cornwall Council backs RNLI plea

In normal circumstances the coming bank holiday weekend would be one of Cornwall’s busiest for water-based activity of every kind.

But in response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and the pressure on the emergency services, Cornwall Council is endorsing the RNLI’s message:

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‘The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is advising the public that they should not take part in any water-based activity on or in the sea. This is to reduce the risk to the lifesaving charity’s volunteer crews and other emergency services being exposed to COVID-19, and the pressure on their time.’

RNLI Lifeguard patrols did not take up their usual posts along our coast at the end of March due to the Covid 19 restrictions, and at this stage there is no predicting when they may be able to return.

For the time being their familiar flags marking safe bathing areas, unsafe conditions, and their reassuring Lifeguards in vehicles and lookouts, are missing from the Cornish seascape and our coastal tourist attractions.

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, Rob Nolan, says: “We endorse the RNLI’s plea not to go into, or onto, the sea.”

“Our beaches are open for exercise, but you should not congregate on them, and only exercise locally. Remember, there won’t be any Lifeguards keeping an eagle eye out for people in danger or in need of rescue. Social distancing also means no crowds, so fewer people around to spot anyone who needs help.”

“RNLI Lifeboat crews are still on standby to help sea craft in distress, but we mustn’t waste this lifesaving resource on avoidable incidents on the shoreline. If crews have to rescue swimmers, surfers or people in pleasure boats, they are risking Covid 19 infection themselves.”

“We must all continue observing the Government’s anti-virus guidelines, and if we choose to use Cornwall’s beaches for our daily exercise we must do so responsibly and considerately. Entering the water is simply too great a risk, and please make sure you don’t get cut off by the tide. Stay safe and stay well, until we can all start enjoying the water once again.”

Looking to the future, the RNLI has today said it hopes to provide a lifeguard service on around 30% of the beaches the charity usually covers this summer, if government guidance allows.