Europeans and Americans soak up the sun amid new guidelines - GulfToday

Europeans and Americans soak up the sun amid new guidelines


A woman poses for a 'selfie' along the shore on a beach in Ostia, west of Rome, on Sunday as the country eases lockdown measures. AFP

Europeans and Americans soaked up the sun where they could, taking advantage of the first holiday weekend since coronavirus restrictions were eased, while European governments grappled with how and when to safely let in foreign travellers to salvage the vital summer tourist season.

BeachParis1Two women practise yoga at dawn at La Barceloneta beach in Barcelona on Sunday. AFP

Yet even as social distancing rules spread families and friends out on Sunday across beaches and parks, the virus remained a constant threat. The United States was on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

BeachHorseshapePeople sit on the beach at the popular tourist spot Durdle Door near West Lulworth on the south coast of England. AFP

The New York Times marked the horror by devoting Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of those who have died in the pandemic in the US under a headline that called it “An Incalculable Loss.”

President Donald Trump played golf at one of his courses during the Memorial Day weekend as he urged US states to reopen their coronavirus lockdowns. However, many Americans were cautious as the number of confirmed cases passed 1.6 million nationwide.

BEachSpainpoliceA police officer gestures as people enjoy a morning out at La Barceloneta beach in Barcelona. AFP

Across Europe, a mishmash of travel restrictions appears to be on the horizon, often depending on where travellers live and what passports they carry.

Germany, France and other European countries aim to open their borders for European travel in mid-June but it isn’t clear when intercontinental travel will resume.

Spain, one of the worst-hit countries in the pandemic and also one of the world’s top destinations for international travellers, says it won’t reopen for foreign tourists until July. To boost the economy, the country’s leader has encouraged Spaniards to “start planning their vacations” for late June inside Spain.

BeachUS Visitors enjoy the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. Reuters

“Come July, we will allow the arrival of foreign tourists to Spain under safe conditions,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said. “We will guarantee that tourists are not at risk and that they don’t represent a risk (to Spain).”

For now, travel between Spain’s provinces isn’t allowed and many other restrictions remain - although on Monday, residents in worst-hit Madrid and Barcelona will be able to join the rest of the country in dining outdoors at bars and restaurants, which can offer only 50% of their usual tables.

BeachCaliforniaPeople wade in the surf on May 23, 2020 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. AFP

Also on Monday, local sunbathers and swimmers will be permitted in some of Spain’s coastal provinces. The number of beach-goers will be limited and umbrellas must be at least 4 metres apart.

In Germany, domestic tourists will be allowed to return on Monday to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state in the northeast - home to the country’s Baltic Sea coast - and to hotels in Berlin, the popular capital. But tourism campaigns will require a new approach.

BeachWomenSpainTwo women jog as surfers wait for a wave at Cottesloe beach in Perth, to take advantage of unusually large waves created by a storm. AFP

“We don’t think people want closely packed big-city bustle at the moment,” Burkhard Kieker, the chief of visitBerlin, told RBB Inforadio. His agency has launched a campaign showing “how much green space and how much water there is” in Berlin.

In Paris, where all city parks remain closed, locals soaked up the sun along the embankments of the Seine River and lounged on ledges outside the Tuileries Gardens.In some spots, people sat safely spaced apart.

BeachWomenWalkTwo women walk along the shore on a beach in Ostia, west of Rome. AFP

Elsewhere, groups of maskless teens crowded together, shrugging off social distancing rules. Beginning Monday, France is relaxing its border restrictions, allowing in migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries. But is calling for a voluntary 14-day quarantine for people arriving from Britain and Spain, because those countries imposed a similar requirement on the French.

Italy, which plans to open regional and international borders on June 3 in a bid to boost tourism, is only now allowing locals back to beaches in their own regions - with restrictions.

In the northwestern Liguria region, people were allowed a dip in the sea and a walk along the shore, but no sunbathing. In Savona, a dozen people were fined for violating sunbathing bans. Rimini, on Italy’s east coast, attracted beach-goers beginning at dawn, and many sat in widely spaced groups. Still, authorities had to work at enforcing distancing on a popular beach in Palermo.

’’We cannot forget that the virus exists and is circulating,” deputy health minister Pierpaolo Sileri told Sky TG24. “Even if the numbers of new cases are low, we must respect the rules.”

Associated Press

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