You make reservations at restaurants, of course. But how about booking ahead just to get a spot on the sand at the beach?
This is exactly what some swimmers will have to do in Spain this summer, thanks to the coronavirus crisis.
Watch the video above.
Canet d’en Berenguer, a Mediterranean town just north of Valencia, will only allow 5,000 daily bathers on its local beach, about half the usual number, in order to maintain social distancing.
These spaces must be reserved in advance via a mobile application.
“This summer will be very different,” Pere Joan Antoni Chordá, mayor of the city, told CNN. “There will be more space between your neighbors. Like a “business class” beach.
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Canet will use a grid to divide his wide, flat beach into square sections, each separated by two meters (six feet).
The sections should be demarcated by laying a series of nets on the sand that look like huge football pole nets to accommodate larger groups of bathers.
Beachgoers will be allowed to book a tanning session in the morning or afternoon, but not all day.
According to the mayor, bathers can reserve any available area, much like selecting seats online at a movie theater, and arrival times will be staggered to avoid crowds.
Crowd control on the beach
Access to the beach is also to be reduced.
Once arrived and confirmed their reservation with the staff, beach goers will be directed to their assigned section.
Antoni considers advance reservations and staggered arrival times to be essential.
“I wouldn’t be able to control the flow of people [without the new measures]. They would all be together, contaminating each other, ”he explains.
Canet d’en Berenguer is not the only Spanish city to have chosen to limit access to the beach this summer.
In Galicia, on the Atlantic Ocean, Sanxenxo will only authorize the entry of bathers on a “first come, first served” basis.
However, Mayor Telmo Martin says he’s not worried about crowds forming at beach access points.
“Tourism represents 80% of our economy,” Martin told CNN. “We need to find solutions to make our people feel safe, from a health perspective. I ask for everyone’s responsibility.
Sanxenxo, located just an hour’s drive north of the Portuguese border, aims to accommodate a maximum of 75% of its beach regulars.
The city, one of the main tourist destinations in northern Spain, also opts for sectional grids for bathers with at least 1.5 meters (five feet) between them, on its main beach.
In addition, wooden poles with ropes tied to form small squares for only a few bathers, or larger ones for a larger group, will be added, according to Martin.
Municipal officers control access to the beach, accompanying swimmers in each section.
However, bathers here will no longer be able to occupy a spot all day by simply leaving their towels there.
If they go out for lunch, they lose their place for the benefit of others, says Martin.
Both towns plan to clean the beaches more often than in previous summers, with Canet lifting the thick streaks of sand each morning to let the cleaning machines pass.
At Sanxenxo, cleaning machines will simply pass through the rows of wooden poles, like a tractor through the vines. Public toilets and showers will also be disinfected regularly.
While the two cities hope to open their beaches in June, any confirmed date will ultimately depend on the de-escalation of the state of emergency in Spain, which has been in effect since March 14.
The Spanish government has just started slowly lifting strict home containment restrictions, but any further change depends on low infection rates in specific territories which officials say must have hospitals equipped and ready to handle a second wave potential for coronavirus.
“This is new to all of us,” said Martin, a member of the Conservative People’s Party, who served as mayor of Sanxenxo for a total of eight years out of two terms.
“People are already telling me that they want even more space on the beach,” said Antoni Chordá de Canet, member of the Socialist Party elected mayor just eight months ago.
Canet has budgeted 500,000 euros ($ 542,000) for its special beach plan this summer, while Sanxenxo will include its special plan in its budget of 3.5 million euros ($ 3.8 million) for summer activities, according to the mayors.
Both cities have smaller permanent populations that quadruple in the summer, when part-time residents flock to their vacation homes and tourists passing through or staying in city hotels head to the beaches.
Reservations or not, summer in these two cities will be a test of whether beachgoers can stay in their allotted areas, and largely stay away from others, say the two mayors.