JUST when you thought there were no more government failings over Covid another comes out of left field to slap you round the face.

Through May and June of 2020 three men drowned after getting into difficulties at sea.

Nothing too unusual in that you might say, however this came just after the first lockdown had been partially lifted by the government in May, then restrictions eased even further in June.

At one point Defra even issued a press release encouraging people to visit the beach.
What they failed to point out was, as the RNLI had warned them, there were no lifeguards at the beach at this time.

Indeed the RNLI had written to the government warning them of that fact, and if lockdown was going to be lifted could they be well forewarned so contingency measures could be put in place.

The government minister wrote back assuring them that this would be the case.

Of course what happened was the government lifted the restrictions without telling anyone, including the RNLI, who only learnt they were being lifted when the general public did.

The result of this was that hundreds of thousand of people from all over the UK flocked to the beaches, many of them oblivious to dangers the sea presented.

The RNLI, and indeed Cornwall Council, did everything they could to warn people there would be no lifeguards and not to go in the sea – in fact the RNLI spent over a million pounds on a media campaign.

The coroner at the inquest into the deaths described their efforts as Herculean and praised them for what they managed to achieve.

However the government’s failure to provide furlough for the majority of trained lifeguards meant that many got other jobs leaving a shortage of trained staff.

Despite this, two weeks after lockdown was lifted, up to 80% of previously lifeguarded beaches in Cornwall had lifeguards again.

It is a tribute to the hard work of the RNLI, and to some extent Cornwall Council, that not more people drowned during this period, and no surprise at all that once again our government failed us miserably.