ATHENS, Greece — Greece reopened organized public beaches under strict social distancing measures during a heat wave.
City dwellers flocked to the beaches while temperatures reached 98 degrees, hoping for a refreshing swim less than a week after full lockdown measures were lifted.
Easing beach restrictions is seen as key to salvaging the tourism industry over the summer in a country expected to have the worst recession in the European Union as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, swimming and sun loungers were permitted but no group sports or food operations. The government issued strict beach guidelines, with businesses facing fines of up 20,000 euros ($21,650) and a three-month closure for violations.
The number of beachgoers cannot exceed 40 people per 1,000 sq. meters (10,764 sq. feet) and two beach umbrellas must be 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart. The distance between groups must be 4 meters (13 feet).
The government is considering opening bars and restaurants on May 25.