Lifeguards start patrolling Norfolk beach as RNLI begins phased return

There were lifeguards patrolling a beach in the Anglia region for the first time this year on Saturday, as the RNLI began a phased return of services.

The lifesaving charity are ultimately aiming to have lifeguards at 30% of the beaches they would usually patrol this summer.

They were introduced at just a few beaches across the country on Saturday, 30 May, including Sea Palling in Norfolk.

The RNLI are hoping to have lifeguards at two more beaches in the county by mid-June.

The RNLI have had to train their lifeguards in line with social distancing rules Credit: ITV Anglia

The reduced approach this year is a result of additional challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the RNLI.

The charity said the outbreak has forced them to adopt new procedures and has impacted their lifeguard training schedule, which would usually take place during March and April.

In an effort to maintain social distancing, lifeguards will not offer hands-on first aid for minor incidents and will instead instruct people on treating themselves.

The need to keep people apart on beaches might also see the red and yellow flags - which show visitors where is safe to swim - not used in certain settings.

The lifeguards will not be providing hands-on first aid for minor incidents Credit: ITV Anglia

Darren Lewis, RNLI Lifesaving Manager, called on the public to keep distant from others when visiting the coast.

He said: "Our lifeguards have a vital role in making sure visitors to the beach are aware of their surroundings, the potential dangers at the beach and providing a lifesaving rescue service should anyone get into trouble.

"We would encourage the public to follow the Government’s advice on social distancing and take care to understand the risks at the coast and the necessary steps to keep themselves safe."

The charity, which has kept its volunteer lifeboats operating throughout the lockdown, is facing an expected £45 million shortfall in funding by the end of the year because many of its fundraising activities have been stopped.