Coronavirus: Coastguard issues warning to those visiting the coast

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has warned people to consider the latest government advice before visiting the coast.

This weekend, pictures showed hundreds of people walking along seafronts across Sussex without adhering to the latest social distancing measures.

The government has urged people to stand at least two metres (six and a half feet) from each person they encounter who does not live with them.

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In a statement on Monday (March 23), the coastguard said: “We know how much everyone loves the coast. We do too. But while we can’t ask you to stay away, we’d really like to ask you to look at the latest COVID-19 advice and think about it before you go out.

Hundreds ignore repeated warnings from the Government and medical experts to socially distance SUS-200322-164156001

“When you’re at the coast, we’re always on call in case things go wrong and we will always respond. Last weekend, we saw a rise in incident numbers and call-outs and we responded to each and everyone.

“But the more people who come to the coast, the more likely it is our teams will be called out and the more risk there is of exposing them not only to Coronavirus but placing our teams in danger.

“The UK’s coastline offers fresh air, scenery and escapism amid the ongoing and developing outbreak, but it is essential to follow government guidance at all times and practice safe social distancing, and – where possible, stay safe at home.

“As a frontline emergency service, it is our priority to keep you safe but that is much easier for us to do when people take less risks and enjoy themselves responsibly.

“During these difficult moments, the operational capability of HM Coastguard is continually being reviewed and assessed on a day-to-day, case-by-case basis – so, it is really essential that you are aware of our safety guidance.”

James Instance, Coastguard Controller at the Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre (CGOC), said: “HM Coastguard remain able and prepared to help anyone who needs our assistance.

“However, to best support our emergency services and particularly the health service we advise people to pay attention to their safety and to not take unnecessary risks.

“While we realise it is important that people exercise and will want to go to the coast to help their mental health, you need to take extra care when walking on beaches and along coastal paths. If you are going to use the water, do not take risks and go with a friend who can raise the alarm if you get into difficulty. And, as ever, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard should you get into trouble.”