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RNLI Lifeguard service in the North West to be paused

The RNLI has made the decision to immediately pause the rollout of lifeguard patrols, which were due to begin next month on selected beaches in the north west of England.

Following the Government’s instruction as of 23 March for people to stay at home and avoid gathering outdoors, the RNLI has made the decision to pause the rollout of lifeguard patrols which were due to commence this month. On the Wirral, beaches at West Kirby, Moreton, Harrison Drive, The Plateaux, New Brighton were due to be patrolled from 4 April. In Sefton, patrols at Formby, Ainsdale and Southport - a service due to commence on 10 April - has also been paused.

The decision has been taken to ensure lifeguards adhere to the Government’s instructions to limit contact between people and encourage the public to do the same. Our lifeboat stations remain on service.

Lifeguards work and train in groups, which makes keeping the requirement to remain 2 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 congregate in groups.

The rollout of RNLI lifeguards to 47 additional beaches across the UK that were due to start patrols this weekend and over the Easter period will be postponed until further notice.

Across the RNLI, this decision will affect approximately 390 trained lifeguards who were ready to patrol beaches in the next few weeks and we will be working with them to understand what this means for them. We hope 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 is too early to know when that might be.

With the situation changing regularly, we will continue to review the rollout of lifeguard beaches as the season continues with the aim of restoring services when possible. In the meantime, we are working with beach owners to inform the public that lifeguards will not be patrolling. At a time when emergency services are already stretched we ask everyone to follow government advice. The RNLI is asking everyone to carefully consider the need to go to visit the beach, the coast or go into the water in case they get into difficulty. If you are in walking distance and do choose visit the coast the RNLI water safety advice is:

  • Take care if walking near cliffs, know your limitations.

  • Check the weather forecast and tide times

  • If going afloat, carry a means for calling for help and always wear a lifejacket

  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float

  • In any coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard

  • Let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back.

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