Europeans have taken advantage of the sun where they can, enjoying the first weekend of vacation since restrictions on coronaviruses have been relaxed, while governments have tried to figure out how and when to let foreign travelers in. security to save the summer tourist season.
Delighted French families flocked to La Grande Motte beach on the Mediterranean shore on Sunday, swimming and sunbathing in areas specially marked to keep away from others. Ropes of ropes and wooden stakes were carefully spaced on the sand, giving each visitor or group a space of eight square meters (85 square feet).
Online reservations are mandatory but free, and there is already a two-day waiting list. Those fortunate enough to have a place for a four-day weekend took advantage of the opportunity, frolicking in the summer sun. Elsewhere in France, the beaches have also reopened, but only for individual sports or walks, and visitors were not allowed to sit or lie down.
However, even if the rules of social distancing spread families and friends on beaches and parks on Sunday, the virus remained a constant threat. Europe has killed more than 169,000 people, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.
Across the continent, a hodgepodge of travel restrictions seems to be on the horizon, often depending on where travelers live and the passports they carry. Germany, France and other European countries aim to open their borders for European travel in mid-June, but it is not known when intercontinental travel will resume.
Spain, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic and also one of the world’s top destinations for international travelers, says it will not reopen to foreign tourists until July. To revive the economy, the country’s leader encouraged the Spanish to “start planning their vacation” for the end of June in Spain.
“In July, we will allow the arrival of foreign tourists to Spain under safe conditions,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. “We will guarantee that tourists are not at risk and that they do not represent a risk (for Spain). “
Travel between Spanish provinces is not allowed at this time, and many other restrictions remain – although on Monday, residents of Madrid and Barcelona most affected will be able to join the rest of the country for al fresco dining in bars and restaurants, which may only offer 50% of their usual tables.
Also on Monday, local swimmers and swimmers will be allowed in certain Spanish coastal provinces. The number of swimmers will be limited and the umbrellas must be at least four meters (13 feet) apart.
In Germany, domestic tourists will be allowed to enter the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – home to the Baltic Sea coast – and hotels in Berlin, the popular capital, on Monday.
But tourist campaigns will require a new approach.
“We don’t think people want a stir at the moment in big cities,” said Burkhard Kieker, the head of visitBerlin, at RBB Inforadio. His agency launched a campaign showing “how much green space and how much water there is” in Berlin.
In Paris, where all the city’s parks remain closed, residents take advantage of the sun along the banks of the Seine and bask on the ledges in front of the Tuileries garden. In some places, people were seated safely and spaced apart. Elsewhere, groups of maskless teenagers have gathered, ignoring the rules of social distancing.
As of Monday, France is easing border restrictions, allowing migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries. But ask for a voluntary quarantine of 14 days for people arriving from Britain and Spain, because these countries have imposed a similar requirement on the French.
Italy, which plans to open regional and international borders on June 3 to boost tourism, is now only allowing residents to return to beaches in their own region – with restrictions.
In the northwest region of Liguria, people were allowed to bathe in the sea and walk along the shore, but without sunbathing. In Savona, a dozen people have been fined for violating the tanning ban. Rimini, on the east coast of Italy, attracted beachgoers at dawn and many sat in widely spaced groups. However, the authorities had to work to enforce the distance on a popular beach in Palermo.
“We cannot forget that the virus exists and is circulating,” Deputy Minister of Health Pierpaolo Sileri told Sky TG24. “Even if the number of new cases is small, we have to follow the rules. “
For the first time in months, well-spaced faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican for the traditional papal blessing on Sunday. About 2,000 Muslims gathered for Eid al-Fitr prayers in a sports complex on the Parisian suburb of Levallois-Perret, carefully spaced one meter (about three feet) apart and wearing masks.
Beach communities along the English coast urged Londoners and others to stay away after the rules were relaxed to allow people to travel any distance for exercise or be entertained. The southern coastal city of Brighton said, “I wish I were here – but not yet. Wales continued its “Later” tourism campaign, reminding people that its hotels, restaurants and tourist sites were still closed.
Associated Press writers from across Europe contributed to the report.