The RNLI has issued a warning after Boris Johnson ruled out opening up swimming pools in the easing of coronavirus lockdown, but claimed people can use lakes and the sea.
Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons ‘we can’t do anything for swimming pools’ but changes to allow people to access lakes and the sea will kick in from Wednesday because there is a ‘lower risk outdoors than indoors’, reiterating there will be no limits on the frequency of outdoor exercise during the easing of the lockdown measures.
The prime minister told the Commons about the upcoming changes: ‘You can now walk, sit and rest in parks, you can play sports and exercise and you can do all these things with members of your own household or with one other person from another household provided you observe social distancing and remain two metres apart.
‘I do hope that’s clear.’
But a spokesperson for the RNLI reminded the public of the dangers of swimming in the sea at this time.
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They said: ‘At present there are no RNLI lifeguards on beaches and although our volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, should they be needed, it is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risk and takes the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.
‘This will also help to reduce the demands placed on our lifeboat crews and other emergency services including HM Coastguard. In this way we can all work together to succeed in ensuring the coast is a safe place to visit.’
Johnson’s comments raised eyebrows with the general public, with concerns about the impact it will have on coastguards.
One tweeted: ‘Johnson now telling people to swim in the sea. Coastguard must be thrilled.’
Another posted: ‘Can see the coastguards being busy with Covidiots swimming in the sea ‘cos Boris said they can’.
‘Did Boris just drown people in lakes and the sea?’ asked @NotesFromFarm.
Matt Rushbrooke tweeted: ‘Yeah, I’m not convinced they’re safer than an indoor swimming pool with a life guard literally watching you… ‘
Megan Devlin commented: ‘Has Boris Johnson actually just said that because they can’t open swimming pools people should go and SWIM IN LAKES instead ???? I’m sure that’s much safer!’
AM Daniels wrote: ‘Getting horrid visions of the beaches being packed… herd immunity through the back door, I guess.’
‘I’m wondering if he threw the sea swimming bit in there by accident,’ wrote Nicki Welding. ‘Stand by the RNLI and coastguard as lemmings run to the sea…’