Minneapolis park board reverses decision, will staff busiest beaches with lifeguards starting this weekend

Lake Nokomis Main Beach in Minneapolis. (FOX 9)

Minneapolis will begin staffing its beaches with lifeguards again after previously reopening them without lifeguards due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In early April, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced all beaches and pools would be closed this summer over concerns about the coronavirus. The park board later reversed that decision and reopened the beaches, but no lifeguards would be on duty. 

Now, the park board says will staff some of the city’s busiest beaches with lifeguards. The move follows near-drownings over the weekend at Lake Nokomis and Bde Maka Ska that left three people in critical conditions. 

Starting Saturday, June 20, the three most-visited beaches—Bde Maka Ska Thomas Beach, Lake Nokomis Main Beach and Wirth Lake Beach—will be staffed with lifeguards on the weekends from 12-7 p.m. 

By Thursday, July 2, the park board plans to have lifeguards staffed daily at the five most visited beaches. Those beaches are Bde Maka Ska Thomas Beach, Lake Nokomis Main Beach, Wirth Lake Beach, Cedar Lake East Beach and Lake Harriet North Beach. 

The other seven beaches in Minneapolis will not have lifeguards this summer, the park board says. 

Visitors are still encouraged to practice social distancing at the beaches this summer. 

The park board said it initially made the decision not to staff lifeguards at the beaches this summer because the coronavirus pandemic impacted its hiring process. Minnesota’s stay-at-home order led to the cancelation of Red Cross lifeguard training sessions and the park board’s water rescue training sessions.

The park board plans to hire lifeguards that it previously employed who are already certified. It will provide in-person training for those lifeguards over the next two weeks.