Stokes Bay New Year swim cancelled for the second year as Covid cases continue to rise in Hampshire

THE Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service has cancelled its annual New Year’s Day swim due to a rise in Omicron cases.

Thursday, 30th December 2021, 4:09 pm

Many brave individuals usually take the plunge into the sea on January 1 at Stokes Bay but sadly this year, the event will not be able to go ahead as normal for the second year in a row.

The Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs) announced the news on its Facebook page as it stated: ‘Whilst legally, we can run the event as usual, as a lifesaving service, our absolute priority remains the safety of the general public and our ability to continue to operate a lifesaving service to HM Coastguard and our Community. With this in mind, and the current rise in COVID infections, we feel that the event cannot run as it normally does this year.’

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Stokes Bay New Year's Day swim is cancelled for 2021 due to coronavirus

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The GAFIRS New Year's Day swim has been cancelled for 2022. Pictured is: (l-r) Alexandra Earl with her mum Rebecca from Gosport, who braved the sea anyway last year despite the organised dip being cancelled

The government announced earlier this month that England would be moving to 'Plan B' restrictions which include face masks required in most indoor settings, office workers should work from home if possible and certain venues and events are required by law to check that all visitors over the age of 18 have been fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption.

The annual New Year swim usually raises around £5,000 for the life-saving organisation and the event sees thousands of people crowd the bay on the first day of the year.

The rescue service has grown to become one of the busiest lifeboat stations in the UK and in 2019, they celebrated 50 years of service to the local community, attending more than 2,000 incidents and saving more than 100 lives.

Gafirs said it its Facebook post that they hope people will still come down to the beach to enjoy a 'refreshing start to the year with their families and friends' but due to the current restrictions, the station will not be open as a changing facility and ‘The Fighting Cocks’ public house will not be catering for those at Stokes Bay on New Year's Day.

Those who wish to head to the beach on January 1 have been encouraged to keep their distance by the rescue service.

The duty crew will be on station to watch over the beach on New Year's Day in case anyone decides to take a festive swim.

The rescue service also said they hoped the event will be able to take place in 2023: 'We are truly going to miss celebrating the New Year with you and the fantastic range of fancy dress that we see every year, but hopefully 2023 will see our event back to full capacity '

To donate to Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service, visit gafirs.org.uk.

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