SEATTLE (AP) — Lifeguards have returned to four of Seattle’s beaches: Madison, Magnuson, west Green Lake and Pritchard.
People have flocked to the city’s nine swimming beaches, which hadn’t been staffed all summer due to concerns about the coronavirus, said Rachel Schulkin, a spokesperson for Seattle Parks and Recreation.
“The city was really working with two competing public health needs,” Schulkin told The Seattle Times. “One is water safety and one is transmission of COVID-19.”
She said the parks department usually relies on temps or its lifeguard program to staff the beaches, but the city wasn’t hiring this summer due to coronavirus-related budget cuts. Instead, indoor lifeguards have been reassigned to beaches, she said.
The four beaches will be staffed from noon to 7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. There are no current plans to have lifeguards at the other city beaches.
Schulkin said new safety guidelines include instructing people to wear masks whenever they’re not in the water and to stay chest-deep while swimming. An extra lifeguard will make sure people comply with social-distancing regulations.
“Water rescue is really close contact … So it’s a risk for everyone,” Schulkin said. “With those extra guidelines, we can hopefully mitigate some of the transmission risk.”