(CNN) – You make reservations at restaurants, of course. But how about booking in advance just to get a spot on the sand at the beach?
This is exactly what some beachgoers will have to do in Spain this summer, thanks to the coronavirus crisis.
Canet d’en Berenguer, a Mediterranean town just north of Valencia, will only allow 5,000 daily sunbathings on its local beach, about half the usual number, in order to maintain social distance.
These spaces must be reserved in advance via a mobile phone application.
“This summer will be very different,” Father Joan Antoni Chordá, the city’s mayor, told 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 deck into square sections, each separated by two meters (six feet).
The sections should be delimited by placing a series of nets on the sand which resemble huge nets of football posts to accommodate larger groups of bathers.
Bathers will be allowed to book a morning or afternoon tanning session, but not all day.
According to the mayor, bathers can reserve any available area, as can the selection of seats online in a movie theater, and arrival times will be delayed to avoid crowds.
Crowd control on the beach
Bathers on the main beach in the Spanish town of Sanxenxo will be allocated places on a “first come, first served” basis.
Courtesy of Diario de Arousa
The access points to the beach must also be reduced.
Once they arrive and confirm their reservation with the staff, beach goers will be taken to the section assigned to them.
Antoni considers advance bookings and staggered arrival times to be an essential measure.
“I couldn’t 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 choose to limit access to the beach this summer.
This report shows how the authorities plan to delimit the areas to keep people at a safe distance from each other.
Sanxenxo Town Hall
In Galicia, on the Atlantic Ocean, Sanxenxo will only allow bathers to enter on a “first come, first served” basis.
However, Mayor Telmo Martin says he is not worried about the crowd that forms at the 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 standpoint. I ask for everyone’s responsibility.”
Sanxenxo, located just an hour’s drive north of the Portuguese border, aims to allow a maximum of 75% of its regulars to the beach.
The city, one of the main tourist destinations in northern Spain, also opts for grid models of sections for bathers with at least 1.5 meters (five feet) between them, on its main beach.
In addition, according to Martin, wooden poles with ropes tied to form small squares for only a few bathers, or larger ones for a larger group, will be added.
City workers must control access to the beach, accompanying bathers in each section.
However, bathers here will no longer be able to occupy a place all day simply by leaving their towels there.
If they leave for lunch, they lose their place to the benefit of others, explains Martin.
Assigned tanning areas
This report shows how the authorities will distribute the nets in Canet d’en Berenguer.
Canet d’en Berenguer Town Hall
The two cities plan to clean the beaches more often than in previous summers, Canet lifting the thick nets of sand each morning to let the cleaning machines pass.
In Sanxenxo, the cleaning machines will simply cross the rows of wooden posts, like a tractor in the vineyards. The bathrooms and public showers will also be regularly disinfected.
The Spanish government has just started to slowly lift strict home confinement 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 was mayor of Sanxenxo for a total of eight years for two terms.
“People are already telling me that they want more space on the beach,” said Antoni Chordá de Canet, a member of the Socialist Party who was elected mayor just eight months ago.
Canet has set aside 500,000 euros ($ 542,000) for its special beach plan this summer, while Sanxenxo will include its special plan in its 3.5 million euros ($ 3.8 million) budget for summer activities, say the mayors.
Both cities have a smaller permanent population that quadruples in summer, when part-time residents flock to their vacation homes and tourists who pass or stay in city hotels go to the beaches.
Reservations or not, summer in these two cities will be a test of whether beach goers can stay in the areas allocated to them and stay largely away from others, say the two mayors.