(CNN) – Book in restaurants, of course. But how about booking in advance just to get a place on the sand on the beach?
This is exactly what some swimmers will have to do in Spain this summer, thanks to the coronavirus crisis.
Canet d’en Berenguer, a Mediterranean city located north of Valencia, will allow only 5,000 bathers per day on its local beach, about half the usual number, in order to keep social distances.
These spaces must be reserved in advance through a mobile phone app.
“This summer will be very different,” Pere Joan Antoni Chordá, mayor of the city, tells CNN. “There will be more space between your neighbor. Like a” business class “beach.”
Canet will use a grid model to divide its wide flat beach into square sections, each separated by two meters (six feet).
The sections must be outlined by placing a series of nets on the sand that look like huge nets of soccer goal posts to accommodate larger groups of swimmers.
Bathers can book a morning or afternoon tanning session, but not for the whole day.
According to the mayor, swimmers can book any available area, just like selecting seats online in a cinema, and arrival times will be staggered to avoid crowds.
Crowd control on the beach
Bathers on the main beach of the Spanish city of Sanxenxo will be assigned seats on a first come, first served basis.
Courtesy of Diario de Arousa
Access points to the beach also need to be reduced.
Once arrived and confirming the booking with the staff, bathers will be taken to the assigned section.
Antoni considers advance bookings and staggered arrival times an essential measure.
“I wouldn’t be able to control the flow of people [without the new measures]. They are all together, they contaminate each other, “he explains.
Canet d’en Berenguer isn’t the only Spanish city that has decided to restrict beach access this summer.
This rendering shows how authorities plan to separate areas to keep people at a safe distance from each other.
Sanxenxo town hall
In Galicia, on the Atlantic Ocean, Sanxenxo will allow bathers to enter only on a “first come, first served” basis.
However, Mayor Telmo Martin says he is not worried about crowds forming at beach access points.
“Tourism is 80% of our economy,” Martin tells CNN. “We have to find solutions so that our people feel safe, from the point of view of health. I ask everyone for responsibility.”
Sanxenxo, located just an hour’s drive north of the Portuguese border, aims to allow a maximum of 75% of its normal swimmers.
The city, one of the main tourist destinations in northern Spain, is also opting for grid patterns of sections for swimmers with at least 1.5 meters (five feet) between them, on its main beach.
Also, according to Martin, wooden poles with attached ropes will be added to form small squares for a few swimmers or larger ones for a larger group.
City workers must control access to the beach, accompanying bathers to each section.
However, swimmers here will no longer be able to occupy a seat all day simply by leaving towels on it.
If they leave for lunch, they lose their place for the others, says Martin.
Sunbathing areas assigned
This rendering shows how the authorities will spread the networks in the Canet d’en Berenguer.
Canet d’en Berenguer town hall
Both cities plan to clean the beaches more often than in previous summers, with Canet lifting the thick nets out of the sand in the morning to let the cleaning machines pass.
In Sanxenxo, the cleaning machines will simply cross the rows of wooden poles, like a tractor through the vineyards. Public toilets and shower areas will also be disinfected regularly.
The Spanish government has just begun to slowly lift the strict restrictions on home confinement, but any further changes depend on low infection rates in specific territories which officials say must have hospitals equipped and ready to handle a potential second wave of coronaviruses.
“It’s new to all of us,” says Martin, a member of the Conservative People’s Party, who served as mayor of Sanxenxo for a total of eight years in two periods.
“People are already telling me they want even more space on the beach,” says Antoni Chordá of Canet, a member of the Socialist Party who was elected mayor only eight months ago.
Canet has allocated € 500,000 ($ 542,000) for his special beach plan this summer, while Sanxenxo will include his special plan in the € 3.5 million ($ 3.8 million) budget for summer activities, say mayors.
Both cities have smaller permanent populations that quadruple in the summer when part-time residents flock to their vacation homes, and tourists who are passing through or staying in city hotels hit the beaches.
Reservations or not, the summer in these two cities will be a test to determine if swimmers can stay in their assigned areas and largely stay away from the others, both mayors say.
Coffee enthusiast. Travel scholar. Infuriatingly humble zombie fanatic. Thinker. Professional twitter evangelist.