June 1 marks the first official day of beach season at most Estonian beaches. Nearly 100 G4S lifeguards will be on duty at 21 beaches across the country, including in Tallinn, Tartu, Võru, Otepää, Elva, Põlva, Türi, Viljandi, Tõrva, Paide, Haapsalu and Pärnu.
Beachgoers are being requested to stick to the 2+2 distancing rule to help avoid the possible spread of the novel coronavirus.
"We are asking everyone please be understanding if you approach a lifeguard with questions and they want to maintain a two-meter distance from you," said Henry Seemel, head of lifeguard services for G4S Estonia. "People in Estonia generally prefer to keep a distance from others at the beach, due to which there should be no problems sticking to the 2+2 rule."
G4S is also launching its beach conditions and forecast page (link in Estonian) on Monday, which will list information such as air and water temperatures and number of beachgoers at various beaches.
According to Seemel, primary concerns last summer included men under the influence of alcohol ending up in danger in the water as well as children left unattended at the beach.
"People who are drunk often judge themselves to be the best swimmers, but unfortunately they are the worst swimmers," he said. "As a result, lifeguards have to admonish them at the beach, and rescue disobedient ones from potentially drowning."
He also noted that young children are left unattended at the beach all too easily, and stressed that it is parents, not lifeguards or other beachgoers, who are primarily responsible for their children's safety. "Little children are passionate about exploring the world, but they do not understand the dangers," he warned.
Seemel noted that buoys would be placed in the water denoting a designated swimming area, adding that swimming within these designated areas is safer, as the water isn't as deep and remain within lifeguards' field of vision. The buoys also indicate that the marked area is designated for swimming and not watercraft or surfing.
G4S lifeguard hours
-Tallinn beaches (Pirita, Stroomi, Pikakari, Kakumäe, Harku): June 1-August 31, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
-Haapsalu, Paralepa Beach: June 1-August 31, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Vasikaholmi Beach: no permanent lifeguard, scheduled patrols
-Pärnu Beach: June 1-14 and August 16-31, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., June 15-August 15, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
-Tartu beaches (Emajõgi River, Anne Canal): June 1-August 31, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
-Elva, Verevi Beach: June 1-July 31, 12 p.m.-8 p.m., July 1-August 31, 12 p.m.-7 p.m.
-Otepää, Pühajärve Beach: June 1-July 31, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., August 1-31, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
-Paide Beach: June 15-August 26, 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
-Türi Beach: June 1-August 31, 12 p.m.-8 p.m.
-Võru beaches (Tamula, Kubija): June 1-August 31, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
-Viljandi beaches (Paala, Viljandi): June 1-August 31, 12 p.m.-8 p.m.
-Põlva Beach: May 29-August 31, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
-Tõrva beaches (Riiska, Vanamõisa): June 1-August 31, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Editor: Aili Vahtla