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Society

Greece Moves to Curtail Public Beach Takeovers, Limit Sunbed Rentals

After the 2023 summer protests, driven by some island residents upset that public beaches were essentially being confiscated by private businesses, the New Democracy government announced it would limit leases for their use to 30% of beach space.

Previously, it had been 50%, although even that violated the Constitution, which stipulates that all beaches are public and should have access to the water—an aspect essentially ignored by successive governments.

It wasn’t stated if the new rules would apply to luxury resorts that take over almost all or all of the beachfront where they are situated. The government is eager to lure more, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attending the opening of one on Athens’ seaside.

In an announcement on TikTok, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis outlined the country’s new beach bill, a list of rules designed to make beaches more orderly and fair, according to Timeout.

Beginning in the spring, one rule mandates that 70% of beaches must be free of sunbeds to prevent overcrowding, rising to 85% in ecologically sensitive areas. Rented umbrellas and sunbeds will be banned on these beaches but allowed on others.

Additionally, there must be at least 4 meters (13 feet) between the sunbeds and the sea, preventing them from encroaching upon the water’s edge and taking up space for people who want to lay down their own umbrellas, chairs, and towels—a practice discouraged by businesses.

It wasn’t specified how the rules would be enforced, although the report mentioned the use of drones. Furthermore, it’s unclear whether they would apply to luxury resorts or beaches where the public is blocked out by turnstiles unless they pay.

Much of Athens’ seaside has long been overtaken by businesses leasing areas in violation of the Constitution, charging people to use public beaches for their amenities and harassing those who refuse to pay.

The government, aiming to attract more resorts to islands, plans to allow concessions on beaches awarded through online auctions.

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