If even the highest scientific body in the country is concerned to clarify that it is very difficult to get Covid-19 for bathing in the sea, it is that the desire of the Spanish beach seems already unstoppable. While many wonder when the day will come, hundreds of municipalities are already working on how, how they will enjoy without crowding.
With more than 3,500 beaches spread over 8,000 kilometers of coastline, Spain has kilometer-long sandbanks where anyone can continue to savor a bit of solitude, without crossing almost anyone: 17 kilometers of sand on the beach of Castilla (Huelva), 14 kilometers in Cofete ( Fuerteventura), 12 kilometers in Nueva Umbría (Huelva) ...
But the reality in the most touristic municipalities of the country is different: in many sandy areas of the Mediterranean, the Cantabrian and also the Canary Islands, there are nudges in August to nail the umbrella, place the deckchair and extend the towels for the whole family and, even so, It is difficult to avoid that the neighbor of sand is more than half a meter.
Since Monday, many municipalities in the country have reopened their beaches for people to walk and do sports (which includes swimming or surfing). But to be able to enjoy them in summer mode, without sporting pretensions, you will have to wait until phase 3 of the de-escalation, the last one before the "new normal".
That time has not yet a date, but some general guidelines do: until a coronavirus vaccine is discovered, the authorities stress that we will have to change many habits and be disciplined in keeping a safe distance with those people with whom we do not live. at home. Also on the beach: sea water is not a risk, crowds are.
Although half of the country will continue on Monday in phase 0 of lack of confidence, with the summer season on the doorstep, those responsible for the beaches, the municipalities, are already thinking about how to organize the sandbanks. Many prefer to wait for more precise instructions from the health authorities, or even to know whether or not it will be necessary to invest in new equipment or infrastructure.
Others already know how to organize themselves: the most frequently used solution will be to divide the sand into grids, some think of segmenting the beaches for different uses and users, several will turn their lifeguards into vigilantes of the "social distance", some will install artificial intelligence sensors that will mark a traffic light that can be consulted from the mobile phone, and even thought has been given to systems for prior reservation of the plot and time.
The Efe delegations have compiled several of the ideas handled by those municipalities that prefer not to wait any longer to prepare a different enjoyment of their coastline, although many of the reference municipalities in the summer of sun and sand still decline to define themselves, pending to know how The health situation evolves and what general rules are established.
Fuengirola, in Malaga, wants to be the first tourist town in Spain to use artificial intelligence to control the capacity of beaches and public spaces, through a program that will provide real-time information on the influx of people to avoid crowds and reduce the risk of contagion .
The program works through sensors placed in the streetlights, between 40 and 50 to monitor the seven kilometers of beaches in the town. With the information they collect, virtual grids are created where there is a maximum capacity, the 3D volume of the people entering and leaving those spaces is measured and the people in each grid are calculated.
The user of the beach will be able to know the degree of saturation of each area thanks to that system through a free "app", with a color code: green (available), yellow (already 75% occupied) and red (it has arrived 100% and does not admit more people).
Also in Malaga, Vélez has acquired machinery to mark the use squares of the beach on the sand.
On the Costa Tropical, in Granada, Motril does not believe that its beaches are going to have crowding problems because they have areas over 250 meters wide, but they will smooth and condition the coastline to multiply the usable space and will also have water dispensers. hydroalcoholic gel, masks and other protection elements in the rescue modules.
In the Principality, most of the coastal municipalities still choose to wait for clearer instructions, but Llanes and Ribadesella already warn that with the tides of the Cantabrian Sea, much wider than in other parts of the Spanish coast, it is more difficult to plot small beaches. At best, they say, you could segment zones for different uses and users.
Calvià, in Mallorca, participates in the beach working group created by the Secretary of State for Tourism to harmonize measures throughout the Spanish coastline. At the same time, your city council is defining the capacity of its beaches, both in the areas with hammocks and in the "free" areas, and is studying how to mark the safety distances in both areas. In service areas, it has a 4.4 meter distance between umbrellas and a similar separation between areas for each person or family unit.
In Alcúdia, on the same island, they bet on applying a greater distance than that established by the general rule. The umbrellas, with two hammocks each, will be separated by eight meters horizontally, with ten meters of distance between each row, twice as many as in normal circumstances. Therefore, they are clear that this summer will have half umbrellas (1,000) and sun loungers (2,000) in its four kilometers of sand.
In Ibiza, the municipality of Sant Josep values limiting the number of umbrellas for rent, so as not to occupy areas that until now were free of parasols and hammocks, so it will renegotiate the fees paid by the concessionaires of that business.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria had already planned to implement a monitoring system for the Las Canteras beach that would allow it to know its situation in real time. Now, it will be used to warn bathers of the areas of this extensive urban sand that are already near their capacity limit. And all that information will be available to the user in an "app".
In the south of the island, the second most important tourist municipality is Mogán. Unlike its neighbor San Bartolomé de Tirajana (Maspalomas-Playa del Inglés) it does not have kilometer-long sandbanks, but relatively small and very crowded, such as those in Amadores, Puerto Rico and Playa de Mogán.
In the latter, which was once one of the pioneers in Spain in separating smoking and non-smoking areas, the approximate capacity will be 500 people and the available hammocks will be reduced by half. To allow its best use, the City Council plans to divide it into three areas, with rooms 2.5 by 2.5 meters (for two towels or two hammocks) and 5 by 2.5 meters for families.
In Tenerife, Puerto de la Cruz the possibility is raised that the lifeguards are in charge of controlling that the beach users maintain the two meters of separation with other people or groups, in collaboration with the Local Police, without resorting for the moment to delimit grids on the sand.
Cantabria has several kilometer-long beaches, such as La Salvé (Laredo, 4.4 km), Merón (San Vicente de La Barquera, 3.7 km) or Somo (Ribamontán al Mar, 3.7 km), with more than enough space to distribute, but also with others with a more urban profile and very crowded, such as those in El Sardinero or La Magdalena, in Santander.
The Cantabrian capital is waiting for the Coastal Demarcation to clarify how it plans to manage and organize the sandbanks. Laredo plans to establish a protocol for the use of the La Salvé beach next week, and Noja hopes that the Government of Cantabria will establish guidelines for the use of the beaches.
In Lloret de Mar (Girona), the second most important tourist destination in Catalonia and one of the most popular in Spain, the Town Hall plans to divide its two main beaches, Lloret and Fenals, the most popular, into three sectors: groups of elderly, families and adults without children, all with limited capacity.
In the elderly sector, users will be couples or single people who will have a double gangway to facilitate mobility and an assisted bathroom service that will require prior reservation. The one for families will pay special attention to physical distance both in the sand and in the water and in both spaces there will be surveillance teams, while the children's play area will have a reinforced cleaning protocol.
The adult sector does not admit children and will allow the presence of groups of friends. In all cases, showers and public services will only open if it can be guaranteed that there is no risk of contagion.
Canet d'En Berenguer, in Valencia, is going to divide its beach into small plots that will maintain the safety distance and which will be accessible after booking through a computer application and obtaining a QR code, which will be shown to access the assigned place. There will be a morning or afternoon shift, and entrance and exit walkways to the arena will be established.
Oliva, in Valencia, also opts for computer solutions: in its case, an application that determines how many people are on each beach and that the swimmer can consult before moving.
Without changing the province, Cullera is considering reinforcing the lifeguard service, in case it is necessary to remind people to keep the safe distance or take the temperature, and is studying the possibility of using drones to monitor the limits of capacity.
In Castellón, Peñíscola will create teams of informants who will explain the measures to be followed on the beach.
Silgar beach, in Sanxenxo (Pontevedra), will be divided into 780 spaces, with a capacity limit of 2,340 people.
On the beach of Rhodes, in the Cíes Islands, one of the busiest on the Atlantic coast, the regulation of the capacity will also depend to a large extent on what happens with the shipping companies that offer the displacement to that enclave, the same as in Ons .
Another of Galicia's reference beaches, in this case in the Cantabrian Sea, that of Las Catedrales, in Lugo, already had an access system under reservation, with limited places.
In the Region of Murcia, some technical meetings have already been held to analyze how summer is dealt with on its 250 kilometers of coastline. And it is not only thought about how to distribute the spaces, but also in details such as the use of showers and footbaths, the possible modification of urban furniture such as litter bins, benches or walkways to the water, the stay in the beach bars or the control of the Access.
Without having specific guidelines, the decisions are parked so as not to take false steps, although from some councils they analyze ideas such as gridding the space in the sand and some have received offers from companies that propose placing partitions.
On the most popular beaches in Gipuzkoa, the three in San Sebastián and those in Zarautz, their respective municipalities have not yet adopted any measure to order their use when they are reopened for bathers. In Zarautz they see no urgency at the moment to do so, because the beach season does not start there until mid-June and in the early stages of unconfinement, only walking and sports are allowed. So they prefer to wait for clearer official indications from the Basque Government and the Ministry of Health.
In San Sebastián, as in Asturias, they also think of the Cantabrian tides. And they even weigh whether it will be necessary to close the La Concha beach to the bath in the high tides, when the narrow strip of sand available would make it difficult to maintain safety distances.