The chaos of the beach threatens Europe with rising temperatures

The chaos of the beach threatens Europe with rising temperatures

(CNN) – As summer approaches, temperatures are starting to rise in Europe and citizens are looking towards their next holidays after months stuck at home with blocking restrictions.

Just last week, the European Union unveiled a plan “to offer people the opportunity to get the necessary rest, relaxation and fresh air”, which included recommendations to open internal borders, revive rail, road, air and sea links and reinvigorate the hospitality sector to boost tourism.

But the authorities are already struggling to cope with an influx of tourists and locals in one of the most popular places of the summer: the beach.

Wednesday, a few days after France’s blocking restrictions facilitated the opening of hundreds of beaches, Brittany’s northwestern prefecture of Morbihan has closed five beaches as a result of “unacceptable behavior” and failure to comply with social exclusion measures.

People enjoy the beach in Barcelona, ​​Spain on Wednesday 20 May 2020. Barcelona allowed people to walk on its beaches on Wednesday for the first time since the coronavirus blockade began over two months ago.

Emilio Morenatti / AP

Meanwhile, authorities in the Dutch coastal province of Zeeland on Wednesday temporarily closed the streets of the city for all weekends until June 1 due to the expected good weather and the expectation that emergency measures could be violated.

Summer – but with more rules

Travel expert Tony Johnston told CNN that as the summer season approached, people were forced to travel to places of beauty such as beaches, in their countries or further afield.

He said the authorities need to prepare clear strategies to cope with the influx of tourists and overcrowding at the beginning of the holiday season.

“Whether it occurs this weekend or in mid-July it will surely arise – it is inevitable that we will have good weather somewhere on the continent and the problem will arise,” said Johnston, head of the department of the Athlone Institute of Technology for hospitality, tourism and leisure. .

He said that instead of imposing an absolute ban on tourism, the authorities would do their best to encourage good behavior on the beach, noting that the closures “will push the problem elsewhere.

Local authorities in some countries have already started to establish guidelines on how crowded beaches will reopen.

Following one of the most severe blockades in Europe, the Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto he told the local newspaper El Pais that the country was “defining different scenarios” for swimmers.
Spanish policemen ask people who sunbathe to leave Barceloneta beach in Barcelona on 20 May 2020 during the hours allowed by the government to exercise.

Spanish policemen ask people who sunbathe to leave Barceloneta beach in Barcelona on May 20, 2020 during the hours allowed by the government to exercise.

Lluis Gene / AFP / Getty Images

“When international tourism opens, we must ensure that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person,” Maroto recently told the local newspaper El Pais.

“About how you can enjoy our beaches, we are defining different scenarios,” he said.

In Sanxenxo, Galicia, cleaning machines will be a regular feature of the beaches and public toilets and shower areas will be disinfected regularly.

The authorities of some French prefectures, such as Landes in the French region of Nouvelle Aquitaine, have so far undertaken to open beaches only for “dynamic individual physical activities”.

Johnston told CNN that with so many regions – particularly in Spain, Italy, France and Greece – financially dependent on tourism, officials should be eager to encourage safe tourism and should have policies to promote good hygiene. in public areas such as bathrooms and restaurants.

“We have around 330 million people working in tourism. There will be a challenge between meeting the needs and desires of tourists, together with the economic impact of tourism, against the whole Covid situation,” he said.

A change in behavior

In the heat, experts also fear that adherence to the social distancing guidelines may have already started to slip. In an ongoing study, researchers from University College London found that less than 50% of respondents under the age of 30 complied “completely” with the blocking rules.

Susan Michie, a professor of health psychology at UCL, told CNN that evidence from long-term quarantine situations from around the world has shown that lack of compliance often results from boredom, frustration, depression and anxiety.

“If you think about the psychology of this, you are weighing the pros and cons of staying indoors instead of going out. The arguments against going outside and meeting with friends is that we still have a pandemic and this virus is very easily transmitted,” she said.

He added that the better the time, the more people will go out.

“But having said that, viral transmission is happening overwhelmingly on the inside, not on the outside. So it’s actually relatively safe on the outside – it’s the people getting together on the inside. That’s a real problem,” he said. added.

People are enjoying the heat on the beach while blockades due to the coronavirus epidemic have been eased in Brighton, England on Thursday 21 May.

People are enjoying the heat on the beach while blockade measures due to the coronavirus epidemic have been eased in Brighton, England on Thursday 21 May.

Gareth Fuller / AP

In order for people to conform to social orientation, there also had to be high levels of public concern for Covid-19 and trust in the authorities.

Governments, he said, should be clear, precise and consistent with this summer’s messages. “You know exactly who is allowed to do what, when, where and how.”

Risk of a second wave

Virus deaths can be reduced daily in many European countries, but experts warn that the continent could risk a second wave if it does not proceed with caution.

Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia in England, told CNN that the risk of outdoor virus transmission remains low, but has encouraged social distance and hygiene, such as washing hands regularly.

The risk of spreading the virus would depend on how many people will visit tourist hotspots and how they will act when they get there, he said.

Pointing to the United Kingdom, which has seen a decline in officially registered deaths in the past few days, he said: “We have seen new cases drop dramatically in the past three, four weeks, if not more in reality, and therefore, there may not actually be a lot of personal risk.

“However, if we are seeing an increase in cases and people are preparing as sardines on the surrounding beaches or pubs and in which restaurants and such, then that risk is quite high,” he warned.

“The danger is that when we open up, we could actually start moving in the second wave,” he added.

CNN’s Eva Tapiero, Sophie Stuber, Mick Krever, Al Goodman, Tamara Hardingham-Gill contributed to this report.

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