“Respect distances”: the rush of the Athenians on the beaches

«Respectez les distances»: la ruée des Athéniens sur les plages

Under a burning sun, gloved, Pedri Alatras cleans with disinfectant the sun loungers to the edge of the sea at Kavouri, in the first day of the reopening of the beaches in Greece.

The employee of the beach bar, which offers drinks at a take away, watch also this Saturday to ensure that customers are not more than two under the umbrellas.

“It is a bit painful to clean up every time a client leaves,” sighed he.

“I also have to wear gloves while he is near 40 degrees. It is exhausting, but we are obliged to comply with these measures, ” he adds.

Twenty kilometers from the centre of the capital, the beaches such as Kavouri, located along the gulf Saronic, were invaded by thousands of Athenians, who sometimes fail to adhere to the social distancing.

One kilometre from Kavouri, on the Vouliagmeni, a getaway is traditional for the inhabitants of a capital city is extremely dense, a message is broadcast through a megaphone: “please Observe the safety distances “.

“It is full of people, but we are aware of the situation and we’re paying attention to,” says Vassilis Demetis, 36 years old, master swimmer.

Only bars and restaurants to take-away are open.

In the sea, sailing boats and windsurf boards testify to the ” return to normal “, which began gradually, may 4, after six weeks of containment to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

“After a long period of time without being able to get out, it’s good to be near the water, especially with this heat “, is looking forward to Kavouri, Elena Papastregiou, a high school student.

In anticipation of high temperatures are unusual for mid-may, the authorities have advanced the re-opening of the 515 beaches in the country, the public beaches are already accessible since 4 may.

Towels one against the other

With 160 died of the virus in Greece, the rules are no less stringent on all the private and public beaches: 40 people maximum on 1000 m2, a distance of 4 metres between the umbrellas, and the disinfection of the chairs after each client.

But the beaches with free access are rarely controlled.

The boss of the bar beach of Kavouri, Aris Ninas, explains that “only 25 umbrellas on 50 are offered (to clients), measures of distance require”.

But on the beach not equipped close to Kavouri, the safety distances are not respected always, has found an AFP journalist.

Families spread their towels next to each other. Municipal police officers with megaphones to remind the rule of at least 1.5 m between the towels.

“A great loss of money”

Facing the prospect of recession is “very deep” in Greece, according to the IMF, the Greek authorities have embarked on a race against time to save tourism, the engine of the economy of the country.

Bars, taverns and hotels will re-open gradually from the 1st of June, but the professionals are pushing for the resumption of 25 may.

Aris Ninas, the bar owner to take away from Kavouri, says he is ” happy with the re-opening of the beaches “, but he is looking forward to re-open his bar. “It is a great loss of money,” laments there.

Travel on the continent, on the islands of Crete and Evia will resume as soon as Monday, with the reopening of archaeological sites, including the Acropolis of Athens, one of the ancient monuments the most visited in the world.

“We have fears of course for the tourist season. Foreigners, those who consume more to the bars and cafes, will be less numerous this year, ” says Aris Ninas.

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