LYMINGTON'S famous seawater baths are reopening today - but the operators have imposed what they describe as "drastic and unwelcome" restrictions.

New safety rules which aim to protect staff and customers mean there are no changing or shower facilities and the number of swimmers is limited to 20 per session.

The baths are owned and maintained by Lymington and Pennington Town Council but are managed by Lynx Sports Management, headed by businessman Hugo Ambrose.

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They normally open earlier in the summer but Mr Ambrose has had to wait for the latest easing of the lockdown restrictions.

Under the new system tickets have to be bought online and swimmers should arrive at least ten minutes before their session.

Everyone buying a ticket must give their name and address, which will be passed to the NHS if any cases of Covid-19 are reported.

People can use inflatables and paddleboards throughout the day but swimming is limited to two sessions a day, with a maximum of 20 swimmers per session.

A statement on its website says: "Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have had to make drastic (an unwelcome) changes to the way we operate.

"Our revised entry charges and operating procedures reflect this but are the only way we can open in 2020."

Earlier this year it was revealed that millions of pounds could be spent on vital repairs and improvements to the seawater baths.

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The town council said it wanted to secure the future of the 187-year-old lido - said to be the oldest and largest attraction of its type in the country.

Proposals included major structural repairs, a new restaurant and year-round activities at the site, which currently closes at the end of each summer.

Other ideas under discussion included covering part of the pool in the winter to create a skating rink as well as enabling more boating and canoeing activities to take place out of season.

The council said it was hoping to secure up to £5m of funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.