Spanish beaches are making big changes to stop coronavirus spreading – from timed slots to drone patrols

POPULAR Spanish beaches are introducing new measures and systems ahead of the summer season to stop the spread of coronavirus following the government announcement that they will be able to open by the end of the month.

Socially distanced umbrellas, booking slots and traffic light systems are all being considered across tourism hotpots.

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Cases of coronavirus in Spain are more than 279,000, with over 27,000 deaths.

The Spanish government had originally indicated that people wouldn't be able to use the beaches again until the last and final phase of the coronavirus de-escalation phase.

For most of the country, this would have been towards the end of June.

Now, however, health leaders have brought the measure forward to phase two which will mostly begin on Monday (May 25) or a week or two later, depending on what stage the various regions have reached.

The government is leaving the autonomous communities to make their own arrangements over how to deal with the re-opening and how to cope with the big influx of people and social distancing.

The only general rules set include keeping couples or groups (of no more than 15) at least two metres apart or to find some other physical protection measure if this is not possible.

Strict cleaning regulations must also be met and there will be a ban on using toilets and showers.

All personal objects, such as towels, must remain within the established two-metre space, avoiding contact with other users. Masks should be worn if other people are near-by.

A number of regions and resorts have already finalised their beach plans which will include making appointments in advance, using drones and sensors to let people know if there is any space left on the beach, providing an app to check if it's worth turning up, queueing up supermarket-style to take their place once someone leaves or even be timed from the moment they arrive. 

Few, if any, are using glass boxes or panels due to the expense. Most are relying on umbrellas, marks in the sand or ropes to divide up the beach.

Here are some more of the plans announced so far.

Majorca

Alcúdia, a resort in Majorca has already started to "plant" hundreds of umbrellas on its beaches with the aim of offering all bathing services.

It will be one of the few places to keep its umbrellas and beds, with around 700 umbrellas on its beaches which will maintain a separation of 10m deep and 8m wide.

Magaluf

Part of the Calvia district in Magaluf, which has 33 beaches, will ensure parasols have between 4m and 4.4m between each other.

Costa del Sol

Beaches in the town of Fuengirola will use a message app to give real-time information on the beaches although the Malaga town will calculate the capacity with sensors located on its streetlights.

Andalusia

The government is asking people going to the beach not to stay more than four hours on the beach to avoid crowds.

The resort of Tarifa will use a traffic signal-type app so beach users know how busy they are -green (low capacity percentage), orange (dense capacity), and red (full capacity).

Where possible, the access to the beaches will be roped off and controlled by stewards.

Galicia 

The main government intends to regulate access to its beaches with an appointment system.

Voluntary system being offered to all municipalities but not all agree.

This tool will allow citizens to obtain an accreditation to access a specific beach on a specific date and will be operational from June.

In Vigo, a new system to parcel the beaches without physical obstacles will be announced in the next few days.

Sanxenxo will use drones to measure the capacity on beaches instead of the previous appointment system and a grid plan to guarantee the distance.

Images will then be posted on the social networks and colour coded according to capacity.

Valencia

Beaches are preparing an app so people will know which beaches are crowded and where spaces might be available.

Canary Islands

Plans are being made to open beaches on Monday though they are already open in El Hierro, La Gomera and La Graciosa as these three islands are already in phase two ahead of the rest of Spain.

Specific plans are yet to be released but extensive disinfecting of the sand already started weeks ago.

The Spanish government hasn't indicated how long social distancing on the beach will last for and, at the moment, authorities face a much easier task than when hundreds of thousands of international holidaymakers are allowed to return.

Masks may even need to be worn on beaches if social distancing measures can't be followed.

New plans are being drawn up for Silgar beach in the northwest of Spain, with "sunbathing squares".

Within the sections, there will be 780 spaces marked out using rope, which have a 1.5m gap between each one.

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