Today Italy is still one of the countries in the world that has suffered the most because of Covid-19, and this will undoubtedly affect the coming months, especially as it’s summer, and therefore holiday season. Tourism in seaside locations can become dangerous, because crowd gathering opportunities increase, and proximity and physical contact are more likely to happen in environments such as beach clubs and private and public beaches. Especially in a country like Italy, with more than 7000 km of coastline and a very high number of bathing sites, many risks should not be underestimated, instead need to be carefully considered both by operators and consumers. This is something that must be remembered, even when the experts of the National Institute of Health point out that Coronavirus is susceptible to environmental factors, such as high temperatures and solar radiation: we can’t be too careful!
In this regard, there are many questions about the summer holidays: how will it be like going to the beach after coronavirus?
We already know, without any doubt, that it’ll be a little more complicated, as we’ll have to follow some rules in order to guarantee everybody’s safety, as stated in “Report on bathing activities in connection with the spreading of Sars-CoV-2 virus”, compiled and published in May 2020 by the Ambiente-Rifiuti Covid-19 task force of the National Institute of Health in cooperation with Ministry of Health, Inail, Coordinamento di Prevenzione della Conferenza Stato Regioni, and some experts from Arpa and other organisations. These are general guidelines that should guarantee consistency in the essential measures taken to contain the spreading of the pandemic; it’s essentially a list of guiding criteria for specific situations.
BEACH CLUBS AND PRIVATELY OWNED BEACHES
· Limited access only through bookings, if necessary regulated through time slots
· Preferred payment through electronic methods, and separated entrance and exit
· How to transit towards beach umbrellas/posts and how to station/move on the shoreline
· Minimum distance of 5 meters between the rows of beach umbrellas and of 4,5 meters between beach umbrellas of the same row
· Minimum distance of 2 meters between beach equipment (sun beds, sun chairs, etc.) when they’re not positioned under beach umbrellas
· The only exemption for social distancing is between family or household members
· Every sport/game/activity that may cause crowds is forbidden (parties, events)
· Access and usage of swimming pools inside the beach resort is forbidden
· Social distancing of at least 2 meters when utilising restrooms and showers, unless there are barriers between posts
· Monitoring of social distancing guidelines between children must be guaranteed under every circumstance
· Clients must use masks on arrival and until they reach their own post, and again when they leave
· Dispensers for hand sanitation must be easily accessible to the clients throughout the facility
· Regular and frequent sanitation of equipment (chairs, sun chairs, sun beds, floating and boating equipment), objects, materials and restrooms
· Showers must be outdoors, and frequent cleaning and end-of-day disinfection must be guaranteed
· In regards to food consumption areas, specific guidelines must be followed; social distancing is compulsory and crowds around bars/restaurants are to be avoided, with preference given to take-away service
According to the characteristics of the beach and the visitors flow during the holiday season, guidelines regarding access and usage of the beach will have to be locally determined. In general it will be advisable:
· At the entrance of public beaches multi-language signs should be put up with clear guidelines on appropriate behavior, especially social distancing of at least one meter and ban on gatherings
· Ensure distribution of space with clear indication of the perimeter for each post (beach umbrella/beach chair/chair), for instance with tape (avoiding any kind of dangerous situation); the distribution of space will follow the same rules as private beaches
· Determine the beach maximum capacity, even through hourly shifts and booking of coded spaces using online platforms or apps
· Consider the possibility of booking also the parking space, maybe offering discounted rates
· Take into consideration which guidelines are needed in order to avoid stationing and gathering of beachgoers on the shore
· Ensure appropriate cleaning of the beach and sanitation of public facilities, such as restrooms, if available
· Ensure that the individual or company managing the beach will use properly trained staff, maybe considering involving volunteer associations, third sector organisations, etc. that will be responsible for informing the beachgoers on appropriate behaviours, and for ensuring social distancing on the beach and in the water.
In this regard, designers, architects and creatives had the opportunity to research, design and present solutions and tools that might be helpful when going to the beach after the pandemic. From the widely discussed and criticised plexiglass partitions, to more innovative, creative, sustainable, recovery, ironic, low-cost, and luxury solutions created in order to define the distance between the rows of beach umbrellas, to ensure social distancing between beachgoers and avoid physical contact as much as possible. We can’t wait to see how our beautiful country, during this unusual summer, will prove its will to soar again; the beach will surely represent strength, creativity and, most of all, the desire to go back to normal.
Public beach regulations
What will happen with public beaches? It will obviously be very difficult to monitor and supervise, as these are public access areas. "In this regard - the experts clarify - mayors and/or other local public authority will have to apply every appropriate measure in order to reduce the risk and, if necessary, ensure monitoring of the guidelines compliance by the beachgoers, regulate the access in order to ensure social distancing, implement sanitation of public equipment and common areas".
architetto Nina Russo