Benidorm says British holidaymakers WON'T have to sunbathe inside plexiglass booths when beaches reopen

  • Benidorm mayor rules out using office cubicle-style screens on beaches 
  • Toni Perez says idea - originally pitched by an Italian firm - would be 'unbearable' 
  • Spanish resorts are trying to organise tourists' safety amid Covid-19 pandemic
  • Hoteliers in Mallorca in talks with German tourist companies for summer travel 
  • Germans and Austrians will likely be allowed back to the hot spot before Britons 
  • Comes as Spain is set to enter second phase of its de-escalation plan on May 11
Brits abroad in Benidorm won't have to sunbathe inside plexiglass cubicles when the resort's beaches reopen, the restort's mayor has said.
The Costa Blanca resort's mayor Toni Perez vowed holidaymakers won't need to use the office-style screens, which have been suggested as a possible solution to keep tourists safe while preventing them from spreading the coronavirus.
An Italian firm was the first to suggest them and two Malaga-based engineering students then went public with their designs for plastic screen dividers to ensure sunbathers were able to keep a safe distance from each other.
Benidorms beaches lay empty as the coronavirus swept across Europe and brought tourism to a halt in most countries
Benidorms beaches lay empty as the coronavirus swept across Europe and brought tourism to a halt in most countries
Mr Perez said: 'We've rejected them mainly because they wouldn't let the air circulate and in July and August that would create unbearable temperatures for people sunbathing on the sand.
'We also believe they could be the best ally of the virus in terms of what's left on them when other people turn up the following day to occupy that spot.'
He added: 'There's a lot of ideas and we're in the process of prioritising and finalising them.
'The amount of people using our beaches will need to be controlled.
'I am sure Benidorm will be leading the way in putting into practice the first pilot projects and they will give visitors the maximum security possible so our beaches are safe from a health point of view.'
Benidorm's Levante beach can attract up to 25,000 visitors on a good day in summer. It's other main beach, Poniente beach, tends to attract around 15,000 people in high season.
Mr Perez hinted in an interview last week temperature controls could form part of the council's strategy to manage tourist numbers.
Further north in Canet d'en Berenguer near the east coast city of Valencia, local authorities are working on a system of individual beach patches which locals and tourists can reserve with a mobile phone app.
Mayor Pere Antoni Chorda said beach-goers would receive a QR code on their smartphones after reserving their space. Up to 20,000 people use the beach in the high season.
Costa beaches are not due to fully re-open until June 8 at the earliest as part of a four-stage coronavirus recovery programme announced by Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez last week.
The Costa del Sol is seeking permission to re-open its beaches on May 25. 
As of Thursday evening, Spain had recorded 256,855 coronavirus cases since the pandemic started, while at least 26,070 people have died. 
No date has been given for the possible return of the British and Irish tourists who have made Spain their favourite holiday destination.
Questioned last week about the return of tourists from other European countries, Spain's Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said her intention was that they 'returned soon and with maximum safety guarantees, if the health and travel situation made it possible.'
Spain is the top destination for British tourists, with around 18 million people from the UK visiting the country normally every year. 
Off the coast of Spain in Mallorca, the island's hotel industry is planning to welcome back foreign tourists from July - but Brits could miss out. 
Germans and Austrians will be among the first allowed back to the holiday hot spot before Britons, as hoteliers enter into discussions with German tourist companies. 
Association of Hotel Chains (ACH) and the Hotel Business Federation of Majorca (FEHM) have been holding talks with Germany's TUI, Alltours, FTI and Schauinsland. 
The talks are aiming to bring tourists back to the Spanish island as soon as this summer, according to Spanish media reports. 
ACH president Gabriel Llobera said: 'The aim is to be able to open the hotels gradually and always when demand justifies the business effort.'
Llobera said that the country's hotel industry and tourism companies have a mutual interest in getting the industry back on its feet in the wake of the crippling coronavirus pandemic. 
According to the ACH president, health checks will likely be implemented before tourists travel to Mallorca, and hotel staff will have rapid Covid-19 test kits at their disposal. 
'Health safety is essential, because the image of the Mallorca destination in Europe rests on this,' she said. 
It comes as Spain is set to enter into the second phase of its de-escalation plan on May 11, which will allow for the limited opening of hotels. 
Britons could miss out on summer holidays to the continent as European countries prepare to agree when travel will be possible and which nations to bypass.
The UK's position has been hammered after its coronavirus death toll soared past Italy's on Tuesday to become the worst in Europe. The EU has closed cross-border travel to prevent the spread of the virus until mid-May, with some exceptions in place.
However, formal and informal allegiances have already been struck up between those countries which feel they have the virus under control. Germany and Italy have begun to ease their lockdowns and today said their citizens should be able to enjoy summer holidays.

Baltic states form 'travel bubble' 

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will open their borders to each others' citizens from May 15, creating a Baltic 'travel bubble' within the EU, their prime ministers said on Wednesday.
The Baltic travel area would be first of its kind in the bloc, where most countries restricted entry to non-nationals and imposed quarantine on incoming travellers as the novel coronavirus spread across the continent.
'We have agreed that all three Baltic states have properly contained the spread of the coronavirus, and we trust each others' health systems,' Lithuania's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernlis wrote on Facebook.
'So, starting from May 15, we are removing all restrictions for citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia traveling between the Baltic states.'
People entering the region from other countries will need to self-isolate for 14 days, he added.
The European Commission has recommended that internal border controls between all member states should be lifted in a coordinated manner, once their virus situation converges sufficiently, the commission's office in Lithuania said. 
Reporting by Reuters 
Meanwhile a global alliance between Australia, Austria, Israel, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece and New Zealand, has been forged among the nations who have best kept a lid on the disease.  
'Our nations reacted early and forcefully and now we're in a better place,' Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told The Wall Street Journal.  
Despite Berlin warning against these unilateral actions by EU members and a 'race' to open up for the summer, the German tourism commissioner sounded highly optimistic of doing just that yesterday. 
Thomas Bareiss told Der Tagesspiegel sojourns in neighbouring countries 'that can be reached by car,' like Austria, France, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands would be possible. 
Bareiss said if the virus was kept under control then things could move faster, adding: 'I would not yet write off other regions in Europe, such as the Balearic Islands or the Greek islands.'   
Bareiss added: 'I hope that, given the good numbers, we will be able to relax the (travel) restrictions in the next four to eight weeks.'
Last month Spain's Balearic Island's tourism minister Iago Negueruela singled out Britain for its response to the virus and suggested it had handicapped its chances of summer holidays. 
Negueruela said: 'There are countries like the United Kingdom that have taken too long to adopt containment measures. That also puts us in a different situation with respect to them.'
However, he did not elaborate on how the islands would enforce a system whereby only tourists from certain nations would be allowed to return for holidays. 
On Tuesday, Francina Armengol, President of the Balearic Islands, specifically mentioned the Germans as 'essential' to tourism on the islands of Majorca and Ibiza.
Her latest statement is in marked contrast to a month ago when she urged the Spanish government to keep the ports and airports closed until whenever was necessary.
Beach-goers cool off and sunbathe on the beach of the seaside resort of Benidorm in August 2018
Beach-goers cool off and sunbathe on the beach of the seaside resort of Benidorm in August 2018
This map shows Europe's East-West divide on coronavirus, with countries in Western Europe suffering far more cases per million people than those in the east which generally closed their borders at a much earlier stage of the outbreak
This map shows Europe's East-West divide on coronavirus, with countries in Western Europe suffering far more cases per million people than those in the east which generally closed their borders at a much earlier stage of the outbreak 
Armengol has now asked Madrid and the EU to set up a 'homogeneous framework across the continent to guarantee the safe recovery of air activity.'
The Cypriot tourist minister Savvas Perdios has also signalled an à la carte arrangement could be reached.
Speaking to CyBC state radio last month he said: 'The important thing is that travel agents have Cyprus in mind…there are positive signs from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Nordic countries, Greece, Israel and perhaps the Netherlands.'
Asked about the key tourism markets of the UK and Russia, Perdios replied: 'We hope to know in a few weeks when tourists will be able to come from these countries.' 

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