Dozens of Surfers Pictured Riding Waves During Coronavirus Lockdown in U.K.

Numerous people were seen enjoying the waves at Polzeath Beach today, as the U.K.'s Cornish Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) issued pleas for surfers to stop getting in the water. The organizations claim the activity puts extra strain on lifeguarding services.

"Give the coast a miss," read Polzeath Coastguard's official Facebook post before it was removed today. "We appreciate that for some people their exercise be it surfing or swimming might ordinarily involve using the coast and its resources. But we would ask people to think seriously about the unintended consequences of what could happen if something went wrong while they were in the sea or at the coast."

A picture of roughly 50 surfers enjoying small waves and sunshine was captured by Cornwall Live.

This picture was taken today

— Cornwall LIVE (@CornwallLive) April 22, 2020

While the surfers pictured appeared to be following the 2 meters (6 feet) government social distancing advice, and enjoying their sanctioned daily form of exercise, the RNLI urged people not "take part in any water-based activity in the sea."

This advice applies whether it be for exercise or recreation, as potential accidents put additional pressure on frontline services, and unnecessarily expose volunteers and staff to coronavirus.

"We know people who live at the coast still want to exercise by the sea," said Gareth Morrison, Head of Water Safety at the RNLI in a press statement, "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."

Surfer Polzeath Cornwall UK
A surfer makes his way from the beach in Polzeath, England. COVID-19 threatens the activity of surfing as many year-round surfers are asked to stay at home to avoid putting strain on frontline workers. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Some public beaches are closed in the U.K., mainland Europe and the U.S. to adhere to social-distancing measures and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, in many places, one form of exercise is allowed per day.

Some surfers who live next to a beach and use the sea on a daily basis are perplexed as to why their activity, typically a solo sport, has been singled out over other activities, such as running or cycling.

"If you're local to the beach how is this any different from going for a run or bike ride??..." Tweeted Terry Donnellan about surfing, "Everybody is still allowed their government allotted exercise!?.."

Local police explained to Cornwall Live that while certain exercises may be legal, facing a fine or caution depends on the circumstances: "The legal aspects of the legislation are based upon whether a person's actions are reasonable or not. Officers will continue to make individual judgments based on the specific circumstances presented to them.

"We are grateful that our communities understand what we are all trying to achieve together and are supporting us with this. Enforcement will only be used as a last resort. Officers will continue to use discretion and police with consent."

During the coronavirus pandemic, boardriders around the globe have been arrested and fined for continuing their activities. Californian authorities have set a strict example; one man on a paddleboard was arrested after being pursued by a lifeguard and sheriff's boat at Malibu Pier. Another man was given a $1,000 penalty after he ignored police and lifeguard advice and went surfing at Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County.

Following government instruction to stay at home, the RNLI has not been patrolling beaches in the U.K. since lockdown began. However, lifeguarding services are still available in an emergency – dial 999 or 112 if in the U.K. and 911 in the U.S. and ask for the coastguard.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.