Can Italians Go to the Beach This Summer? And If So, How?

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 08:16
The beach at Procchio on Elba island in Italy

Italians love going to the beach. For many, summer vacation is synonymous with a beach vacation, two/three weeks at a time, and even on weekends, day trips to the seaside are pretty much the norm. 

So the question of whether Italians will be able to go to the beach this summer has been debated for a while, with initial talks about the possibility of installing plexiglass booths being dismissed as unfeasible, when not downright ridiculous ('who would go to the beach to be caged in a sort of greenhouse?' the question was).

It is not precisely clear yet how the beach issue will be handled, but there are some indications of measures likely to be taken, as we approach summer season. Remember that a lot of beaches in Italy are managed privately, meaning that in order to access them, you have to rent chairs and umbrellas for a fee; this includes access to services such as showers, toilets, beach cafés and restaurants. 

A preliminary document drafted by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Higher Health Institute, or ISS) and workplace accident insurance agency INAIL has put forward some of the measures deemed necessary, while waiting for the special Covid-19 technical-scientific committee to make official the effective guidelines to follow.

Here are the measures that are being considered. 

Beach goers will most likely have to book access to the selected beach establishment, even for slots during the day, so that the number of people at each establishment is always kept under control. 

Online payment through contactless cards and apps/web portals will be encouraged. 

Enter and exit routes should be differentiated.

Social distancing must be enforced at all times. The minimum distance between rows of beach umbrellas should be five meters; between umbrellas in the same row, it should be 4.5 meters. 

Beach chairs and beach beds should be at least two meters apart, except for members of the same family or people who live together, who will be allowed to stay closer. (These social distancing measures are causing some controversy as owners of beach establishments challenge the fact that in the workplace one meter between workers is considered sufficient.) 

Social distancing between children will also have to be monitored.

All sports activities and group games such as bocce and beach volley will be forbidden in order to avoid gatherings. Likewise, pools, where present, will not be open.   

All surfaces will have to be disinfected before any new clients access facilities, as well as several times throughout the day. 

Social distancing must also be enforced whenever using toilets, showers and beach cabins.  

Wherever beaches are free, the methods of access and use must be decided locally, taking into consideration the specific circumstances of each beach.