De Italiaanse badplaatsen weigeren stands van plexiglas ten gunste van elektronische armbanden en boekingsappsmei 2, 2020
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The Italian Federation of Bathing Enterprises (FIBA) has dismissed the use of perspex boxes on beaches as a “hoax”, but with summer around the corner, beach resorts still need concrete solutions to avoid forfeiting the season.
Albarella, an island in the lagoon south of Venice, is hoping to set an example for a post-COVID summer at the beach. “The island of Albarella has already prepared a plan for reopening its beaches,” explained Director General Mauro Rosatti, “and possible dates are already in the calendar.”
The island is private, with entrance permitted for those staying in a property or with a pass, meaning entry numbers can be controlled.
Measures have been set out to ensure the safety of beachgoers, including appointing a COVID Manager to oversee procedures.
The island has announced that there will be stewards admitting access to the beaches, and sun loungers and umbrellas will be set in separate areas of 40msq to ensure social distancing. Beaches will be regularly sanitized and there will be sanitization products available for beachgoers to use.
While Albarella has ample space at its disposition to impose social distancing, the normally packed public beaches along Italy’s coastline will require stricter controls.
Vice president of FIBA, Vincenzo Farina, said they were working on increasing the minimum distances between beachgoers “from the current 2.5 meters to 3,” as well as limiting the number of people using the same umbrella.
One beach in Porto Cesareo in Puglia has been given the go-ahead for testing its system of 10msq areas of sand sectioned off by ropes with an umbrella in the center.
Farina has also announced that FIBA is considering an obligatory booking system for sun loungers as well as demarcated time slots for different ages in an attempt to protect those more vulnerable to infection.
The idea of electronic bracelets has also been considered, which would allow the numbers of beachgoers to be counted and controlled. The waterproof bracelet could be used to permit access to various services like bathrooms thus reducing contact through entry buttons and door handles.
In Salento, the president of the bathing enterprises association Federbalneari, Mauro Della Valle, called the plexiglass divisions “science fiction” and said that instead, “lifeguards and bathing attendants will be working constantly to break up groups of people in the water and on the beach.”
Della Valle also warned, “there will be no play areas, and access to the bars, restaurants and bathrooms will be permitted only to those wearing a mask.”
In the regions of Liguria, Tuscany and Abruzzo, the preparation of beaches is already underway. Abruzzo has announced that beaches will be open to tourism from June 1, and there will be a free app to book your place.
The Lifeguard Cooperative in Cervia, Emilia-Romagna, has impressed the importance of protecting their workers not just from the virus but from legal complications.
As lifesaving necessarily involves physical contact, the Cooperative is discussing a “legal shield” to protect employees.
While the new systems are still in the trial phase, one community in Salento has already opened its beaches to residents with intellectual disabilities such as autism and ADHD. The village of Salve has recognized that staying indoors is particularly difficult for people with these conditions.
The new distancing measures currently under consideration for the rest of Italy will necessarily cause an economic toll as the number of beachgoers will have to be reduced. Giuseppe Mancarella, president of the Cna Balneari Puglia, said there would have to be a 40% decrease in the number of beach umbrellas.
However, to not open at all would spell disaster for the beach tourism sector and for the Italian idea of summer.
“Going to the sea is important both for the social aspects and for the vitamins we introduce into our skin and bodies,” said Della Valle, “not to mention the beneficial effects of saltwater on the respiratory system.”
Farina also impressed the importance of reopening beach resorts for health benefits. “We provide a service to Italian citizens who can’t spend the summer trapped in their houses,” he said. “The sea and the beach will be a necessity for public health.”