The public is being urged not to add further pressure to the emergency services by entering the water along Southend seafront during the coronavirus pandemic.
The message has been issued by James Duddridge MP, the charity RNLI and the chairman of the Southend-based Essex Kitesurf Club, who are advising residents to stay out of the Estuary.
Although Government advice permits one form of daily exercise, the public is being warned against water-based activities such as; swimming, paddleboarding or kayaking to prevent lifeboat crews and other frontline services being called to an incident, putting pressure on their time and potentially exposing them to COVID-19.
Mr Duddridge, Member of Parliament for Rochford and Southend East, said: “Even the most competent swimmers can get caught out in our waters, so please do not use the seafront for your daily exercise – no matter how tempting it may be.
“We all must do our bit to protect the NHS – and sensible decisions such as staying out of the water will prevent further pressure and risk being added to our frontline emergency services who are already doing a sterling job to keep us safe.”
Gareth Morrison, head of water safety at the RNLI, said: “We know people who live at the coast still want to exercise by the sea, but when you do this, please think of the potential impact of your actions on RNLI lifeboat volunteers and other emergency services.
“While you could be fully competent and never needed to be rescued, by going out on the water you could encourage others who are less proficient to take part in similar activities.
“Since lockdown was introduced around the UK coast, our lifeboats have been called out all too often to rescue people. So if you do go for a walk or a run at the coast, please follow the RNLI’s safety advice.”
Simon Mudd, who is the chairman of the Southend-based Essex Kitesurf Club, added: “I, as a water sports enthusiast and water sports business owner, appreciate the sacrifice people are making by staying off the water, thus protecting our emergency services and NHS from potentially added risks, workload and deterring travel, however, this is little compared to the bigger sacrifice others are making.
“I would like to thank everyone in Southend and surrounding areas for the support.
We have shown ourselves to be responsible, and have acted accordingly. Stay safe, stay home and stay off of the water.”