BRITISH holidaymakers in Benidorm this summer face having to leave the beach at lunchtime.
The resorts mayor Toni Perez said today its two main beaches would be cleared between morning and afternoon sessions so the number of sunseekers could be controlled. He also said its beaches would remain closed on Monday, and stay closed until mid-June at the earliest, despite being given the go-ahead to re-open by the Spanish government.
Mr Perez said foreign tourists able to holiday in Benidorm could rest easy because its beaches would be open by the time a Madrid-imposed holidaymakers quarantine was lifted at the start of July.
But he insisted “safety” would be the number one priority for the town hall.
The whole of the Brit-popular Costa Blanca, including Benidorm, moves onto phase two of a four-phase Spanish government-led coronavirus recovery programme on Monday.
The easing of restrictions allowed under phase two means it could open its beach to sunbathers and locals and expats wanting to take their first dip in the sea for two and a half months.
Costa del Sol resorts like Marbella and Fuengirola will open their beaches on Monday.
But Mr Perez insisted today: “On Monday Benidorm will keep its beaches closed.
“Its an exercise of responsibility. The re-opening of the beaches throughout Spain was initially scheduled for June 23. Until Benidorm can offer the maximum security to individual users who want to enjoy its beaches after the effort this confinement has meant, we will be calling on people to show caution and prudence.”
He added: “Were working on the basis that our beaches will open in mid-June so that as many people can enjoy them as early as possible. Were not forgetting our beaches.
“They will have a timetable. At the moment the timetable we have is one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
“We havent fixed the timetable yet but they will cleared at midday between the morning and afternoon sessions.
“The numbers of people who can use Benidorms beaches will be limited. The use of the beaches should be a right and the more people that can use them, the better.”
Earlier this week Mr Perez began to offer details of the resorts eagerly-anticipated Covid-19 beach plan as he said it was working on plans to divide up the sand into different plots to ensure social distancing.
He also told Spanish media access points to the Costa Blanca resorts two main beaches and peoples movement on them would be controlled.
The full details of the Benidorm plan will be revealed in the next few days.
Mr Perezs comments paved the way for one-way routes from the sand to the water and vice-versa to make it easier for beachgoers to keep the recommended 6.5 feet distance from each other – and limitations on peoples’ ability to walk about how and where they want.
He made no mention of any intention to reserve different beach sectors for different ages and social groups like the Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar.
Lloret mayor Jaume Dulsat says the resorts two main beaches will be divided into three areas – one for OAPs, another for families and a third for adults without children.
More than 30 security personnel are set to be hired in the run-up to the summer to ensure the rules there are obeyed.
Mr Perez had already ruled out the use of plexiglass cubicles to box off visitors earlier this month and hinted technology will play a part in making sure social distancing recommendations are respected.
He was quoted in Spanish media earlier this week as saying: “Parcellation on the beach seems to me to be a good idea to guarantee security and the number of people on each stretch of beach.”
He also said access to the beach and other factors designed to maximise peoples safety would be done “through the use of technology”, appearing to confirm Benidorm could go the way of resorts like Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol which has said it will focus on artificial intelligence to control numbers.
Sensors are being installed at the beach in Fuengirola which has boasted of being the first to opt for an artificial intelligence system to keep numbers down.
Scanners fitted to lamp posts will monitor how many people are on the beach and inform tourists via a smartphone app which areas are busiest.
Mr Perez have been among those who have expressed concern over the British governments quarantine rules.
He spoke out after Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez said foreign holidaymakers would be welcomed back from July after its current quarantine rules on people arriving in the country are lifted.
The quarantine rules will kick in in Britain on June 8 and are due to apply to British holidaymakers returning to the UK from places like Spain.
Spain is the top destination for British tourists, with around 18 million people from the UK visiting the country normally every year.
Benidorm – made even more famous by the hit ITV comedy series of the same name – has an area known as Little England.
British visitors to the resort outnumber every other nationality apart from the Spanish.
Four out of every ten of its holidaymakers come from the UK.
Mr Perez said last Sunday: “Benidorm has been working for weeks now to make sure it is a safe resort this summer.
“Its not just important that Benidorm and Spain are safe destinations but also that the countries tourists come from are safe as well.
“Were keeping on a close eye on the evolution of the health situation in the neighbouring countries of France and Portugal.
“But were also keeping a close eye on our most important market which is the UK and which is the country that is therefore of most concern to us.
“The quarantine the British government has announced, which will be revised after three weeks and includes high fines for people who flout the rules, is causing a lot of uncertainty.
“No-one knows how long it could last and that is having an effect on last-minute holiday reservations and cancellations and that is something that is worrying us.”
A spokesman for Benidorm Town Hall said today: “In the next few days we will present our beach re-opening and management plans, based on the new circumstances generated by Covid-19.
“Technology will play a fundamental role.
“The resort will re-open its beaches in mid-June once all security parameters can be guaranteed.”