CORONAVIRUS DEESCALATION

Benidorm’s world-famous beaches reopen by appointment only

The sands in the Valencian city will be divided into plots measuring four square meters, with special areas for the over-70s

Benidorm's beaches in 2018, and in May 2020.
Benidorm's beaches in 2018, and in May 2020.Mònica Torres

Just as a cinemagoer books his or her seat, or someone in need of medical treatment gets a doctor’s appointment, beachgoers in the Spanish seaside city of Benidorm will have to do the same to get a space on the sand. From Monday, when the beaches reopen under the government’s coronavirus deescalation plan, people will have to log on to a webpage for a chance to occupy one of the 5,122 four-by-four-meter spaces on the Valencian shoreline, which are meant for a maximum of four people.

For those who are not au fait with the internet or smartphones, there will be an office where people can get help to make a booking. Beachgoers will have to access the Levante and Poniente beaches via one of 20 ramps, and they will have to be wearing footwear until they reach the sand. Once there, they can stay from 9am until 9pm. People are advised to communicate the time that they will be leaving, however, to ensure that the highest number of people possible can enjoy what is one of the engines of tourism not just on the Mediterranean coast, but also in the world.

The protocols will reduce the capacity of the sands from 40,000 people to 26,606

The mayor of Benidorm, Toni Pérez, announced on Saturday the protocols that will be in place for the city’s beaches, and that will reduce the capacity of the sands from 40,000 people to 26,606. The plots will be marked out with colored strips and stakes. The online booking system is expected to gradually start working over the next couple of days.

The beaches have been divided into 20 sectors, with 12 for public use that will be free to access. The ones marked out in green will be for the over-70s, the age group that is most vulnerable to the coronavirus. The blue areas will be for everyone else. In total, there will be space in these sectors for 20,880 people. Then there will be another eight sectors managed by a municipal concession, which will feature sun loungers for hire.

The measures were agreed upon by the city council with 13 votes from the Popular Party (PP) and 12 abstentions from the opposition. The move has not been without controversy, in particular due to the use of municipal concessions to develop it, and the lack of clarity on the plan for several weeks.

Benidorm counts on 71,000 registered inhabitants, but in the high season there can be as many as 400,000 people in the city, of whom 50% come from Spain and the rest mostly from the United Kingdom. Benidorm sees the third-highest number of overnight stays in Spain a year, after Barcelona and Madrid.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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