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Coastal chaos threatens Europe as temperatures rise

(CNN) – By summer, temperatures began to rise in Europe, and residents were looking for their next vacation after months of being stuck at home under lock restrictions.

Just last week, European Union launch plan to “offer people the opportunity to get much needed rest, relaxation and fresh air,” which includes recommendations for opening internal borders, reviving rail, road, air and sea connections and reviving the hospitality sector to enhance tourism.

But authorities have struggled to deal with the influx of tourists and locals to one of the most coveted locations of the summer: the beach.

On Wednesday, only days after restrictions on the French lockdown subsided to open hundreds of beaches, northwestern Brittany prefecture Morbihan closes five beaches after “unacceptable behavior” and failure to comply with social distance measures.

People enjoy the beach in Barcelona, ​​Spain, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Barcelona allows people to walk on the beach Wednesday, for the first time since the start of the corona virus locking more than two months ago.

Emilio Morenatti / AP

Meanwhile, authorities in the Dutch coastal province of Zeeland on Wednesday temporarily closed roads to the city for every weekend until June 1 due to good weather forecasts and hopes that emergency measures could be violated.

Summer – but with more rules

Travel expert Tony Johnston told CNN that when summer comes, people are bound to travel to beauty places such as beaches, whether in their own country or further away.

He said that the authorities need to prepare a clear strategy to deal with the influx of tourists and overcrowding when the holiday season starts.

“Whether it appears this weekend or mid-July it will definitely emerge – it is inevitable that we will have good weather at some point across the continent and problems will arise,” said Johnston, head of the Athlone Institute of Technology’s Technology department. hospitality, tourism and recreation.

He said that instead of imposing a direct ban on tourism, the authorities would do their best to encourage good behavior on the beach, noting that the closure would only “encourage problems elsewhere.

Local authorities in several countries have begun to develop guidelines on how they will reopen busy beaches.

Following one of the tighter lockouts in Europe, Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto to the local newspaper El Pais said that the country “determines a different scenario” for beach visitors.
Spanish police ask people who sunbathe to leave Barceloneta beach in Barcelona on May 20, 2020 for hours permitted by the government to exercise.

Spanish police ask people who sunbathe to leave Barceloneta beach in Barcelona on May 20, 2020 for hours permitted by the government to exercise.

Lluis Gene / AFP / Getty Images

“We have to guarantee, when international tourism is opened, that people who come to Spain are safe people,” Maroto recently told the local newspaper El Pais.

“About how you can enjoy our beach, we have determined a different scenario,” he said.

In Sanxenxo, Galicia, cleaning machines will become a regular feature on the beach, and public bathrooms and shower areas will be disinfected regularly.

Authorities in several French prefectures, such as Landes in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of France have so far committed to open beaches only for “dynamic individual physical activity.”

Johnston told CNN that with so many regions – especially in Spain, Italy, France and Greece – that are financially dependent on tourism, officials must be interested in encouraging safe tourism, and must have policies to promote good hygiene in public areas. like bathrooms and restaurants. .

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

Changes in behavior

As the weather warms up, experts also worry that compliance with social distance guidelines may have begun to slip. In ongoing research, researchers from University College London found that less than 50% respondents under 30 meet “fully” with lock rules.

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

“If you think about that psychology, you weigh the pros and cons of staying indoors compared to going outside. The argument against going outside and meeting friends is that we still have a pandemic and this virus transmits very easily,” he said.

He added that the better the weather, the more people would come out.

“But after saying that, the transmission of the virus very much occurs indoors, not outside. So actually outside is relatively safe – people gather indoors. That’s a real problem,” he added.

People enjoy the hot weather on the beach when the locking action due to a coronavirus outbreak subsides, in Brighton, England, Thursday, May 21.

People enjoy the hot weather on the beach when the locking action due to a coronavirus outbreak subsides, in Brighton, England, Thursday, May 21.

Gareth Fuller / AP

In order for people to adhere to social distance guidelines, there needs to also be a high level of public concern about Covid-19, and trust in the authorities, he said.

The government, he said, must be clear, precise, and consistent with sending messages this summer. “You know exactly who is allowed to do what, when, where and how.”

The risk of the second wave

Virus deaths may be reduced every day in many European countries, but experts warn that the continent could risk a second wave if they do not tread carefully.

Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, UK, told CNN that the risk of transmission of the virus outside the home remains low, but encourages social distance and cleanliness, such as regular hand washing.

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

Referring to Britain, which has seen a decline in the number of officially recorded deaths in the last few days, he said: “We have seen new cases drop dramatically over the past three, four weeks, if it is no longer really, and therefore, may not be there is an actual risk associated with the personal level.

“However, if we see an increase in cases again and people flap themselves like sardines on the beach or in the surrounding pubs and restaurants and things like that, then the risk is quite high,” he warned.

“The danger is that when we open, we can actually start moving to the second wave,” he added.

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

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