LIFEGUARD patrols on beaches in Wales - including Barry's Whitmoor Bay - will be suspended as coronavirus sweeps the country.

The RNLI announced today it will be pausing the service next month to ensure its lifeguards are adhering to government advice.

In a statement it says: "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 from April.

"The first beaches in Wales due to be patrolled were Three Cliffs in Swansea and Whitesands. Pembrokeshire on 4 April. The service at Bridgend beaches, Coney/Sandy Bay, Trecco bay and also Whitmore Bay in Barry and Tenby South in Pembrokeshire were due to start on 10 April along with Aberafon Beach in Swansea.

"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."

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The RNLI say lifeguards work and train in groups, which makes keeping the requirement to remain two 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 organisation say.

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.

The statement adds: "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.