Lifeguards are to be removed from Cornwall's beaches with immediate effect and will not return until after the current government restrictions have been lifted.

It follows instructions from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stay at home except for carrying essential shopping, one period of exercise a day and as a key worker.

It means the planned rollout of lifeguards over the coming weeks in the lead up to Easter has been paused and any beaches where lifeguards operate all year round will see them removed as of today.

In Cornwall this move affects Praa Sands, Sennen, Porthmeor, Hayle Towans, Gwithian, Porthtowan, Perranporth, Fistral, Towan, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth, Constantine, Harlyn, Polzeath, Widemouth and Summerleaze.

Other beaches were also due to have a service over the next couple of weeks and months.

However, lifeboats will continue to operate.

The RNLI said: "Following the government’s instruction as of March 23 for people to stay at home and avoid gathering outdoors, the RNLI has made the decision to immediately pause the rollout of lifeguard patrols onto beaches.

"This is 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.

"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.

"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.

"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."

The charity said that in the meantime it was working with beach owners to inform the public that lifeguards would not be patrolling and has the following safety advice:

• Take care if walking near cliffs - know your route and 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