The charity has said the coronavirus presents a serious of challenges for it to help people remain safe on beaches
A lifesaving charity has warned people who flock to beaches during good weather may be putting themselves at risk.
The RNLI has warned that keeping people safe during coronavirus presents serious challenges.
Beaches down south were very busy after England eased lockdown rules recently, and good weather is forecast over this weekend.
However the charity has said that it has had little time to adapt to how it will keep visitors and its staff safe when the virus still poses a risk.
In an open letter, RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie said: “Safety advice and warnings will only go so far when people are desperate to enjoy some freedom after weeks of lockdown. But, as a lifesaving charity, the RNLI cannot stop people going to beaches.
“Rolling out a lifeguard service – especially in a pandemic – is not as simple as putting a lifeguard on a beach. We found out about the easing of lockdown restrictions in England at the same time and in the same way as the general public. Contrast that with shops, which were given three weeks’ notice and even car showrooms have been given seven days’ warning to prepare.
“We have to work out how to do in-water rescues and give first aid – normally conducted at close quarters and often with people coughing up water. We have to find PPE that will work on a beach and in the water – visors and aprons are no good on a rescue board. And we have to train our lifeguards in procedures to reduce the risk of infection. All this takes time and we learnt of the lifting of restrictions at the same time as everyone else.”
Dowie added that the charity is facing a financial struggle during the crisis, and estimates there will be a £45 million shortfall in its budget.
He concluded: “No-one is to blame for the situation we find ourselves in. We’re asking everyone to help manage an impossible situation, so please follow our safety advice and think before you head to the coast.”