By Constantinos Psillides
THE national committee of Blue Flag beaches decided yesterday to extend the working hours and duty periods of lifeguards in an effort to increase bathers’ security.
The decision to employ lifeguards for greater periods comes at the end of a season when 21 drownings were recorded, but the committee didn’t determine the exact nature of these extensions.
It pointed out that public beaches are insufficiently monitored.
While hiring lifeguards is mandatory, their employment depends solely on the local authorities. As a result, not all public beaches are protected the same.
Some municipalities pay for lifeguards only for the summer months in summer, while at others lifeguards are employed for six months, the full length of the tourist season. Additionally, the working hours may vary, again depending on the local authority’s budget.
The Lifeguards Association has had a long standing request of a uniform employment status for lifeguards, along with transferring the authority over lifeguards back to the state.
The committee is comprised of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, the Union of Municipalities, the State General Laboratory, the state health services, the NGO AKTI and the Lifeguards Association.