West Kirby

England, United Kingdom

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How (not) to cut your hair at home

Merseyside actor Stephen Graham is among a growing number of people having their haircut at home as the coronavirus pandemic has caused hairdressers to close.

Some brave individuals, or their family members, have given it a go themselves - with mixed results...

Virus warning issued over garden rubbish fires

People are being warned not to burn rubbish in their gardens by the fire service - as it could affect people suffering from coronavirus and other health conditions.

Merseyside Fire said it was "essential" to understand the impact and risk smoke from burning waste can have on people.

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'How do I get a food parcel?'

BBC Business News

Free food boxes containing essential supplies have been delivered in England to people considered to be at the highest risk from coronavirus.

One-and-a-half million people in England have been identified as being extremely medically vulnerable and the government will distribute free food parcels every week to more than 50,000 who have no family or friends to help them.

Government food parcel
PA Media

The identical parcels contain essential non-perishable supplies like pasta, cereal, fruit, tea bags, potatoes and tinned goods, as well as toilet paper.

A food distribution company will deliver the packs to people's doorsteps, although in some cases local authorities, charities or emergency services may help out.

You can register for support on the government website.

Supermarket sales in March 'busier than Christmas'

BBC Business News

Sales of groceries in the UK in March beat all previous records as shoppers stocked up for a long period at home, according to consumer analysts Kantar.

Supermarket queues
EPA

The busiest spell was 16-19 March, when 88% of households visited a food store, adding up to 42 million extra trips across four days.

In the last four weeks, year-on-year supermarket sales grew by 20.6%.

Kantar's Fraser McKevitt said £10.8bn sales in the past four weeks were "even higher than levels seen at Christmas".

Free school meals children to get food vouchers

BBC News UK

Families with children eligible for free school meals in England will be able to claim weekly shopping vouchers while schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, say ministers.

Children in school dinner queue
Reuters

The scheme will allow schools to issue vouchers worth £15 a week per child.

Headteachers have warned that even with the vouchers, some parents will struggle to feed their children.

But the Department for Education says the rate exceeds that normally paid to schools for free school meals.

Police told to be 'consistent' on lockdown powers

BBC News UK

Police officers have been told to take a "consistent" approach when ensuring people comply with emergency measures aimed at curbing coronavirus.

Handcuffs
BBC

Guidance to officers calls on forces to "coordinate" efforts and emphasises the importance of professionalism.

It comes amid criticism of the way some forces have handled the new measures.

A former Justice of the Supreme Court told the BBC one force's use of drones to film walkers in the Peak District had been "disgraceful".

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said police forces were doing a difficult job and being sensible about enforcing social distancing measures.

Grand National gift of flowers to 'bring smiles' to community

Aintree Racecourse has given hanging baskets ordered for the Grand National to local people to "bring smiles to the local community".

Flowers donated to local people
@AintreeRaces

The flowers would have been displayed at the race meeting, due to start this week, but the event was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Flowers donated to local people
@AintreeRaces

Everton in the Community, the Everton FC charity, has helped deliver the baskets.

Flowers donated to local people
@AintreeRaces

In a tweet the race organisers aid it was "a privilege" to support Everton's Blue Family charity campaign.

RNLI 'immediately pause' lifeguard roll-out

The roll-out of lifeguard patrols on selected beaches in the North West, which were due to begin next month, has been "immediately paused", the RNLI has said.

Crosby beach
Bill Boaden/Geograph

A spokeswoman for the charity said beaches at West Kirby, Moreton and New Brighton were due to be patrolled from 4 April, while in Sefton, patrols at Formby, Ainsdale and Southport were due to start on 10 April.

However, she said a decision to pause had been taken "to ensure lifeguards adhere to the government’s instructions to limit contact between people and encourage the public to do the same".

She added that the RNLI's lifeboat stations "remain on service".

Lancashire CCC chairman dies after contracting coronavirus

BBC Sport

Lancashire chairman David Hodgkiss has died at the age of 71 after contracting coronavirus.

James Anderson and David Hodgkiss
Getty Images

Hodgkiss, who had underlying health issues, took on the role in 2017 after almost two decades on the club's board.

He also had spells as treasurer and vice-chairman during his time working with the county.

"He was much loved by everyone at Lancashire and respected throughout the cricketing world," a statement on the club website said.

"Our sincere condolences and thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Warning over text message scam

Crimestoppers has warned people about a fake text message which is circulating, threatening fines for people who leave their homes too many times during the coronavirus lockdown.

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University admissions could face emergency controls

BBC News Education

Universities in England could face fixed limits on how many students they each recruit, in a bid to create more stability and reduce financial threats.

Students
Alamy

There are concerns that the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus could leave some universities with too few applicants to stay financially viable.

It is understood that emergency controls are being considered to stop a free-for-all in student recruitment.

But Universities UK said any "stability measures" had not yet been decided.

EasyJet grounds entire fleet of planes due to coronavirus

BBC Business News

EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of planes and said it cannot give a date for when they will restart.

EasyJet plane
TF-Images

The budget airline, which flies from both Liverpool John Lennon and Manchester airports, said it had made the move due to the "unprecedented travel restrictions" imposed by governments globally due to the virus pandemic.

It had already cancelled most flights but had been running rescue flights to repatriate Britons stranded abroad.

The move came as regional airline Loganair, which serves the North West and the Isle of Man, said airlines were unlikely to survive without a government bailout.

PM says 20,000 former NHS staff return to fight virus

BBC News UK

Some 20,000 former NHS staff have returned to work to help the fight against coronavirus, Boris Johnson has revealed in a video posted online.

Boris Johnson
PA Media

The prime minister, who is self-isolating after testing positive for the virus, said the country would get through the crisis "together".

It comes after England's deputy chief medical officer said it could be six months before life returns to "normal".

The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 1,228.

More free car parking for NHS staff in Liverpool

Rumeana Jahangir

BBC North West News

Liverpool City Council will provide 1,300 free car spaces for NHS staff for the next three months.

aerial view
Liverpool City Council

A thousand of the spaces have been allocated at the Mount Pleasant car park in the city centre.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said: Our NHS staff and carers everywhere are proving to be real heroes by putting their own lives at risk every time they go to work to help those suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Virus shutdown scuppers funeral plans for daughter, 18

"There was going to be pink balloons, unicorns - and her Girl Guide group were going to perform her favourite song in sign language."

Hayley Smallman, from Liverpool, wanted the funeral for her 18-year-old daughter, Holly, to be a massive celebration of her life - in a venue big enough for the hundreds of people she expected to turn up.

Holly Smallman surrounded by family
Hayley Smallman

Instead, because of social distancing due to coronavirus, it's going to be held in a nearly-empty building.

Holly was born with a series of serious medical problems that left her unable to see or speak. She spent her life under the care of a children's hospice, and died on 13 March 2020, aged 18.

"I am so scared of going into an empty crematorium. My son and daughter are petrified," Hayley told Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"Then we have to come home to an empty house without anyone there to, you know, hold us up".

Region's coronavirus deaths rise by 21

A further 21 people have died from the virus in the North West in the last seven days, bringing the total number of deaths in the region to 68, including Cumbria.

Coronavirus graphic
BBC

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the region currently stands at 930.

The region's NHS trusts released the following lists of deaths at their hospitals:

  • Countess of Chester of Chester: 1
  • Lancashire Teaching Hospitals: 2
  • Manchester University Hospitals Trust: 2
  • Pennine Acute Hospitals: 1
  • Salford Royal: 3
  • Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care: 4
  • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay: 7
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital: 1

Police share photos of deserted city streets

Police in Liverpool have shared photos of the city's empty streets, including this one of the Three Graces lit up in blue as part of a nationwide campaign to show support for the NHS.

Liverpool waterfront buildings lit up blue
@MerPolCityCen
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Theft of coffee 'disappointing in current climate'

The theft of seven jars of coffee from a supermarket in St Helens "in the current climate... is disappointing", a police inspector has said.

Bridge Street
Google

A 47-year-old man was stopped by officers on Bridge Street in the town earlier after trying to sell a jar to a passer-by.

He was found to have seven jars in a carrier bag and was arrested on suspicion of theft.

CCTV footage from a supermarket nearby showed a 40-year-old woman was also present when the jars were taken. As a result, she was then arrested at her home.

Insp Neil Burkett said:

In the current climate where people are struggling to get the necessities they need, it is disappointing that some people choose to steal food products.

We want everyone to know that our officers are out on the street to deter this type of crime and support the shop staff and business community who are providing a vital service.

Merseyside Police said the man was given a conditional caution, while the woman was charged and bailed.

Wirral bin workers to delay strike until after coronavirus crisis

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Bin workers in Wirral have overwhelmingly voted to go on strike, but will delay any walkout until the coronavirus crisis has passed.

Green bins on a street
BBC

About 180 workers delivered a 96% vote in favour of industrial action over pay on an 80% turnout.

Their union Unite said the dispute is a result of Biffa, the firm contracted by the council to run Wirral’s bin collections, refusing to meet their pay claim.

Last week, a spokesman for Biffa, said it was continuing to talk to "employees and their representatives and have offered a generous pay increase which is in excess of the current wage inflation indices".

Wirral Council said at the time that "in the event of any disruption to services, we will endeavour to enact our business continuity plans and advise our residents and other stakeholders well in advance".

The mandate for strike action would normally last for six months, however it can be extended with the agreement of the employer. Unite has requested this is done given the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus crisis.

Police get new powers to enforce protection

BBC News UK

Anyone continuing to break coronavirus lockdown rules will be breaking the law and faces arrest.

Handcuffs
BBC

People ignoring tougher restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence.

New powers given to police mean no-one will be allowed to leave their home "without reasonable excuse".

The measures come into force on Thursday and will last six months, with a review every three weeks.

To ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, police will be able to order people to go home, leave an area or disperse.

The new powers mean officers can:

  • ensure parents are doing all they can to stop their children breaking the rules
  • issue a £60 fixed penalty, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
  • issue a £120 fixed penalty for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence

Coping with coronavirus anxiety

BBC News Health

Anxiety UK have experienced a big rise in callers since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Here are some tips on how to cope.

Northern closes waiting rooms and opens station barriers

Rail operator Northern has closed all waiting rooms at its stations, opened all gates and barriers and suspended issuing penalty fares until further notice.

Manchester Victoria
Northern

The firm, which manages dozens of stations across the north of England, said the closure of waiting rooms was in line with government advice, adding that in the event of bad weather, it would "review the situation and may look to re-open areas if appropriate".

A spokesman added that the opening of gates would mean "passengers do not have to pass paper or season tickets through the barriers or present them to staff", though customers still required a ticket to travel.

Commercial and customer director Mark Powles said:

Our trains and stations remain open for business to help key workers get where they need to be across the north of England.

For those who have to make essential journeys – and for our staff who continue to work across the network – we want to make the railway as safe as possible [and] the measure we have introduced today further limit person-to-person contact.

Our ticket offices remain open to provide help and advice to passengers [but] we will only accept payment via card. Customers who want to pay by cash will be asked to use ticket machines if they are available.

The firm is currently running an amended timetable for key workers and essential travel across all its services.

Mersey Tunnel tolls suspended

Mersey Tunnel toll charges will be suspended from 20:00 to support key workers during the coronavirus crisis.

Queensway tunnel entrance
Google

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said:

This is absolutely the right thing to do for our key workers who have to travel and are working tirelessly in our communities day in and day out to provide crucial services to keep us all safe.

The suspension will remain as long as the current UK restrictions continue, which will be a minimum of three weeks but could be extended.

Halton Council is also taking steps to remove tolls on the Mersey Gateway, but to do so needs government approval.

Council leader Rob Polhill said he was waiting for a response.

He said he did not want key workers to worry about the payments “so they can concentrate on helping us keep people safe”.

Wirral Council puts aside £100,000 to support self-employed

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Wirral Council is putting aside £100,000 to support self-employed people struggling to make ends meet amid the coronavirus crisis.

Wallasey town hall
LDRS

Money will be given where there is no other way for someone to pay for something fundamental to their health or wellbeing.

The £100,000 sum is a top-up on the council’s existing Local Welfare Assistance Scheme, taking its total spend to £250,000.

A key use of the additional money will be helping those worst affected by the coronavirus crisis while they wait for benefits such as Universal Credit.

Wirral Council’s cabinet member for finance, Janette Williamson, said:

It is important that we act quickly to help those, including those who are self-employed and facing very real financial difficulties.

This scheme provides a safety net when there is no alternative, and while we await further information from the government on help for [the] self-employed. We will be making the funding available immediately once applications have been approved.

Details of how to apply for the scheme are available on the council's website.

The worry of working in supermarkets and pharmacies

BBC Newsbeat

There are many people around the country who have been following the government's advice around social distancing - that's avoiding going out for non-essential reasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For quite a few of us, that means having to work from home, but that's not an option everyone can take.

Mehfuz Dasu Patel
Biodose

Mehfuz Dasu Patel helps run a group of community pharmacies in north west England, which serve 250 care homes and deliver medicines to around 20,000 patients.

And those patients are the reason he's still going to work.

If Mehfuz decides to stop working, "vulnerable people will go without medicines", he says, adding:

It's not the sort of business that can just disappear or you can work from home. We have to keep delivering to them, despite what's happening in the world.

Read more about the workers who have go out to work here.

The firms hiring thousands of new staff

BBC Business News

Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis as restaurants, bars, hotels and gyms have been forced to close.

But many companies still in business are urgently seeking more staff to meet orders, help with deliveries and just to keep things moving.

Man puts hiring sign in a window
Getty Images

The major supermarkets are searching for 35,000 additional workers, but many other firms supplying essential goods or services are also looking for extra help so they can cope with the increased demand.

Home care company Cera has just created 10,000 new jobs for people to work as part of the home carer community.

Meanwhile, chemist chain Lloyds Pharmacy is seeking 1,500 workers across the country in the next few days. And Virgin Media says it needs 500 new people at Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Teesside.

Jobless struggle to claim benefits

BBC News UK

Significant problems are being reported after an "incredible" number of benefit claims in recent days due to the economic fall-out of the coronavirus.

People queue at job centre
BBC

At one point on Tuesday, more than 100,000 people were trying to verify online applications and others spent hours trying to phone welfare staff.

Many gave up after long phone queues and then being rejected by the system.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it was redeploying existing staff and hiring others to cope with demand.

Lancashire coach gives tips on social distancing cricket practice

One of Lancashire Cricket Foundation's coaches has been giving some ideas about how fielding skills can be sharpened while observing social distancing.

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Visiting suspended at Southport and Ormskirk hospital

Southport and Ormskirk hospitals will stop patient visiting from tomorrow.

The decision comes after earlier restrictions imposed on 18 March by the hospitals which limited visits to one hour a day.

Families and friends of patients are asked not to visit hospital other than by arrangement.

Southport and Formby hospital
Google

Visits will be permitted in exceptional circumstances on an individual basis which will be agreed with the nurse in charge of the ward.

Separate arrangements will apply to:

  • Maternity and women in labour – one birthing partner per patient
  • Child inpatients – one carer per child
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Chief Executive Trish Armstrong-Child said the decision was not "taken lightly" but it was in line with the government’s instructions and asked people to consider "other ways of speaking with your loved ones, such as by phone or video calling”.

Thousands sign up to help NHS with vulnerable

BBC News UK

More than 250,000 people volunteer in a single day, exceeding the government's target.

Man leaving pharmacy with bag
Getty Images

The helpers are needed for delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments and phoning the isolated.

The scheme is one of a number aimed at relieving pressure on the NHS.

About 11,000 former medics have also agreed to return to the health service and more than 24,000 final year student nurses and medics will join them.

Centre for blind and partially sighted people closes

Bradbury Fields Services for Blind and Partially Sighted People in Liverpool has made the "difficult decision" to close for the "safety and welfare" of service users, staff and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bradbury Centre
Google

All groups, classes and social gatherings to be held at the Bradbury Centre or external venues, such as swimming, gym and spa-based activities, have been cancelled for an initial one-month period.

Staff have been advised not to undertake non-essential home visits.

A telephone support service is still running and more details can be found on the Bradbury Fields website.

The centre, formerly known as the Liverpool Voluntary Society for the Blind, was established in 1857 to provide a service for blind people in their own homes.

Chief Executive Philip Longworth said:

In such challenging times, let’s all do our bit to isolate as instructed, keep safe and well and help our NHS to cope as best it can over forthcoming weeks.

LFC offer support to local community

Liverpool have set up a telephone service contacting vulnerable and elderly people in North Liverpool so they don't feel isolated.

The Reds are also running online programmes such as mindfulness tips, physical activity sessions, LFC quizzes and videos encouraging you to take up a new hobby.More details on the Liverpool FC website.

View more on twitter

Everton manager calls fan to wish him well

This is the moment Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti rang a life-long Toffees fan to wish him well during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark has motor neurone disease and was surprised to receive a call from the Italian, who insisted the 52-year-old called him Carlo.

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Mark refused, and later Ancelotti tweeted:

It was a pleasure talking to Mark. I wish him and all who are suffering due to the COVID-19 the best. Strength and courage to all. We will also win this match.

The Blue Family outreach campaign was launched by the club last week to keep contact with fans and provide support to some of the most vulnerable, socially isolated and at-risk members of the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is also organising food parcels, arranging breakfast packs for young children, providing mobile phone credit for people living alone, and helping with gas and electricity bills.

For more details, log onto the Everton website.

Funeral numbers restricted in Liverpool City Region

The numbers of mourners allowed to attend funeral services in Halton and Widnes cemeteries is now restricted, Halton Borough Council says.

Widnes crematorium and cemetery
Google

From today, only 12 people will be allowed to attend funeral services within Widnes Crematorium chapel.

For burial services at all cemeteries in Halton, only six mourners will be permitted at the graveside.

A council spokesman said the changes have been made following discussions with Public Health, funeral directors and neighbouring councils and government advice on social distancing.

In Liverpool, the city council says funeral services at the city’s three public crematoria - Springwood, Anfield and Myrtle - will only be able to accommodate a maximum of 10 people at the ceremony.

The city's Register Office has also stopped conducting weddings and civil ceremonies until further notice.

Force urge people to use 101 for 'police matters only'

Merseyside Police have asked people to only call the 101 non-emergency number "when it is a police matter" after seeing an "influx" of calls that "don’t fit the criteria" since the prime minister's address to the nation last night.

In the aftermath of Boris Johnson's speech, the force received "an increasing number" of coronavirus-related calls, asking questions such as:

  • "Can I go out and buy the kids Easter eggs?"
  • "Can I go to church to practice the organ?"
  • "I am moving house tomorrow. Can I still do this?"
  • "I have bought a bed on eBay. Can I go and collect it?"

Ch Supt Claire Richards said:

We understand that we are currently in new and challenging times and people have genuine worries but the force contact centre should not be used by people wanting to ask questions about Covid-19.

I would urge people to think before they pick up the phone. They could be blocking the line for someone who genuinely needs to speak to us.

She added that anyone wishing to access the latest government information should go to the dedicated government website.

Merseyflow to close walk-in payment centre

Merseyflow is closing its walk-in centre from 19:00 tonight, which means you can no longer pay in person for crossing the Mersey Gateway bridge.

People are being asked to use the website, the app or phone on 01928 878 878.

If you have a Blue Badge or a Halton Resident plan for the bridge, these are being extended so you can continue to use it without the need to renew it until further notice.

More details at MerseyFlow

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National Pensioners Convention cancelled

The annual National Pensioners Convention, due to be held in Southport in June, has been cancelled.

Southport Theatre and Convention Centre
Google

General Secretary Jan Shortt said it "will not surprise" anyone that the two-day event, due to start on 2 June at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, will now not go ahead.

The NPC represents about one million members and promotes "the welfare and interests of all pensioners".

People who have already bought tickets will be refunded and the event is expected to be rescheduled for next year.

Ms Shortt added:

Please be patient with our staff – they are working flat out and under very difficult circumstances.

It is frustrating that we lose our unique event this year, but we can get through this together by being vigilant, looking after ourselves and others and making sure we stay up to date, safe and well.

Nationwide clap to say thanks to the NHS planned

People have been asked to take part in a huge round of applause on Thursday to say thank you to the NHS staff working tirelessly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers of Clap for our Carers are asking everyone that can to clap at 20:00 on Thursday - whether it's in your garden or local park - and at a safe distance from others, of course.

Health officials applauded in return to Spanish police who paid respect to health workers fighting coronavirus pandemic by applauding.
Getty Images

Similar displays of appreciation have been taking place in Spain, France and the Netherlands, with Spanish police and health workers applauding each other.

To find out more, visit the Clap For Our Carers website.

Radio stations play You’ll Never Walk Alone in solidarity

You’ll Never Walk Alone was played simultaneously on over 180 radio stations across 30 countries in Europe, including BBC Radio One, BBC Radio Two and BBC Radio Merseyside this morning in a show of solidarity during the coronavirus crisis.

View more on youtube

It was the idea of Dutch radio presenter Sander Hoogendoorn, to play the 1963 hit by Gerry and the Pacemakers at 08:45 (07:45 GMT) as a way "to bring people together".

The song, which feature the lyrics, "When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don't be afraid of the dark" was played at across the continent and, of course, was also tweeted by Liverpool FC.

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Liverpool Metro Mayor reveals plan to help local people

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has announced a number of initiatives to help local people during the coronavirus pandemic.

They include restrictions lifted on concessionary travel and a £65,000 fund to support community and social businesses.

He has also announced a new crowdfunding campaign to support community and voluntary organisations on the frontline of helping communities cope.

Steve Rotheram
Getty Images

Chairing the first meeting of the Liverpool City Region Coronavirus Action Group, the mayor said he wanted to do "all that I can to help support local people, businesses and community organisations through this uncertainty".

The new initiatives are:

  • A crowdfunding campaign to support community and voluntary organisations helping communities cope with the spread of coronavirus
  • Free bus travel to and from school for the children of key workers using existing Merseytravel-funded supported bus services
  • Lifting the 09:30 restriction on concessionary travel for essential journeys, such as accessing designated shopping hours reserved for the elderly
  • A fund of £65,000 of business support for community and social businesses to help them cope

Read more on the Liverpool City region Combined Authority website.

People visiting coast asked to 'stay safe' by RNLI

The RNLI has issued vital safety advice to people thinking of visiting the coast this weekend.

Although lifeboat stations and shops are closed to the public, RNLI lifeboats and stations remain fully operational.

The charity is urging the public to "stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks".

RNLI lifeboat
RNLI

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead, said:

Whether you’re fishing, surfing, kayaking, sailing or just going for a walk, we’re asking people to be extra responsible and to avoid taking unnecessary risks to themselves and others which could put unnecessary pressure on front line services.

As with all public places we’d encourage people to follow guidelines provided by the government to maintain a two-metre distance, follow good hygiene practices and avoid mass gatherings.

If you see someone in difficulty, or you get into difficulty yourself, you should call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

More safety advice can be found on the RNLI safety webpage.