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Society

Beach Blanket Bingo: Greece Reopening Summer Beach Clubs

With temperatures soaring to 90 degrees and higher in an unexpected heat surge as the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic is winding down, Greece will allow the opening of private and municipally-run beach clubs to the public on May 16.

Guidelines requiring people to stay at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart are in place but already widely violated across the city with the further lifting of parts of a lockdown that was imposed on March 23 to prevent the spread of the virus.

It wasn't said how it will be enforced on wide-open beaches but the Health Ministry said the clubs must have a limit of 40 people per 1,000-square meters (10,764 square feet) with no explanation what would happen if the beaches are mobbed anyway.

Many of the clubs that operate privately charge people to use public beaches, a practice that has gone on under a succession of governments who've done nothing to stop it or to raze unlawful buildings.

With almost no public swimming pools across Athens, leaving children with no place to swim unless they can get to beaches on the city's southern coast, people flock to the beachside, expected to be massive with the mini-heat wave.

The other requirement is that there be a distance of at least 4 meters (13.12 feet) between sun umbrellas and as Santorini, one of the world's most popular islands, is so desperate for tourists to come this summer there are plans to install plexi-glass shields on the beaches.

Catering facilities on the grounds of beach clubs can only offer takeaway service and are prohibited from delivering food and drinks to customers’ umbrellas, as well as from selling alcoholic beverages.

There's also a ban on sports that require any form of physical contact between participants although young people could openly be seen playing basketball on school and public courts.

The experts also “strongly recommend” that staff wear masks to cover their nose and mouth, though this is not mandatory and with signs that Greeks pent-up for six weeks during the lockdown are already returning to pre-COVID-19 life.

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