Greece is about to start a gradual lifting of its draconian coronavirus restrictions, but locals and tourists alike know that — this summer at least — beach life will be radically different from what we are used to.
Scientists continue to insist that the virus is not easily transmitted through water, with Greek Health Ministry spokesperson and infectious diseases expert Professor Sotiris Tsiodras recently saying that “swimming in an area that is not crowded has a very small risk.”
Others maintain that swimming in a hotel pool that is chlorinated is also considered safe.
But it’s what we do outside the sea or the pool that really matters, and this is the greatest cause of concern for Greek authorities, who are considering measures to alleviate congestion on organized beaches throughout the country.
Among the measures currently considered are the following:
- One single entrance to an organized beach, in order to avoid overcrowding.
- Cleaning sunbeds with a special disinfectant after a visitor departs.
- Maintaining a greater distance between sunbeds and umbrellas.
- Mandatory sunbed reservations for smooth and coordinated usage throughout the day.
Reserving a sunbed
“We are waiting to see what the Greek authorities will finally recommend, so that we can adapt our approach,” says Thanasis Christodoulou, co-founder of beachdibs.com, an award-winning web platform for reserving sunbeds on Greek beaches.
Speaking to Greek Reporter, Christodoulou, a first generation Greek immigrant living in New York City, says that this summer the new beach landscape will include social distancing and disinfection.
“Perhaps our platform will help beach-goers through the coronavirus crisis,” he says. “People can reserve their sunbeds and umbrellas, and therefore crowding will be reduced.
With beachdibs.com, travelers have the ability to research and reserve a spot on their favorite Greek beach. They can just go to the website, select an island and then choose from a variety of available packages at participating beaches. The reservation will then be guaranteed.
“If people reserve sunbeds, congestion at the entrance of a beach will be eliminated, the movement of people in search of a sunbed on different beaches will be reduced, and contact at the cashiers will be minimized, since platforms like ours allow on-line payment,” Christodoulou says.
Keeping sunbeds further apart
The beach industry in Greece, which employs thousands of people each summer, is certain that government regulations will force a larger distance between sunbeds on organized beaches.
That will mean fewer sunbeds and umbrellas and therefore, of course, less revenue.
But Christodoulou says that public health is more important than money at this difficult juncture. “We must give tourists the reassurance that Greece is safe… We must maintain the country’s excellent record in tackling the coronavirus, and this will help tourism in the future.”
Greek beaches will definitely be less crowded this summer as authorities have repeatedly said that the tourist season will not begin until July — and that only tourists from selected countries will be allowed in the country.
For those lucky enough to enjoy the Greek summer this year, it promises to be an unprecedented experience by any measure.