High temperatures and the absence of travel restrictions have meant that where the wet bit meets the dry bit it has become pretty crowded.
Now this recipe is just the ticket for struggling chiringuitos and the coastal tourist sector in general but it has been making the town halls along Costa Tropical a bit fidgety – what if we shoot ourselves in the foot where the much-needed summer season is concerned?
In the absence of anybody having a firm set of rules to abide to, since the Estado de Alarma expired and judges in high courts contradicted each other over what is permissible or not, town halls have fallen back to the tried-and-sort-of-trusted system from last summer, where there was no Estado de Alarma in effect, either.
There is a snag though and that is that last summer the Junta threw herds of auxiliaries at the beaches to back the municipal police force and lifeguards in their task of maintaining safety on beaches.
So, the plan is to bring into force last year’s restrictions; i.e., beaches will have a maximum occupation capacity which will be enforced.
Snag two is that whilst large municipalities like Almuñécar, Motril and Salobreña, have municipal police forces that can at least attempt to control beach access, smaller ones like Torrenueva Costa, which doesn’t even have its own police force – borrows officers from Motril.
In Gualchos-Castell de Ferro, the Mayor, Antonia Antequera, got her bods together and sketched out plans: the municipal beaches have a maximum capacity of 4,000 bathers, all together, and that’s what they intend to stick to.
“The measure will be little different from last year. Beach showers will be available and a 6-metre-wide stretch along the shoreline will be maintained [free of people putting down towels and brollies] and lifeguards will have loudspeakers to inform beach users,” explained Mayor Antequera.
There will be seven lifeguards on the beaches during the day – Playa La Rijana will have no lifeguard coverage, however, but there will be volunteers from Protección Civil. It was this beach that had access closed on many occasions last summer when it reached its maximum capacity.
Beaches belonging to the Almuñécar (Playa San Cristóbal and Playa Calabajío) and La Herradura also had to close access last summer. This year, with the absence of Junta reinforcements, it will be the lifeguards who will have to control numbers. They will be backed by Protección Civil volunteers on weekends
As Almuñécar has more kilometres of beaches than any other coastal municipality on the Costa Tropical, its maximum combined capacity for its beaches is 100,000 beachgoers – a little less that four times its normal population (26,000+).
In Salobreña, the Councillor for Beaches, Gabriel Alonso, explained that they will use the same ‘beach-plot’ system and maximum capacity as 2020 (19,187) with the difference that this year the toilets and showers will be available for public use.
Which brings us to new-to-the-independent-municipality-club, Torrenueva Costa, which will impose the unattended, beach-brolly ban this summer and also come down on those that spread out their belongings to claim more space. There will be a 6-metre-wide shoreline stretch for people strolling where nobody will be allowed to occupy and people who sneeze anywhere on a beach will be shot at dusk – OK, I made that up, but hey, it was getting boring.
Mayor Plácido Lara says that they have 30 lifeguards and their borrowed officers will make sure beach-occupancy restrictions are obeyed.
The Chairwoman of the Mancomunidad de Municipios, María José Sánchez, said that the mobile-phone app from last year, which allows users to see what the permitted beach occupancy for each beach is and what beaches have been closed, is operative.
Sra Sánchez, who is also the Mayor of Albuñol, is not chuffed that the Junta hasn’t provided beach auxiliaries, as they did last year, and has announced that last year’s restrictions will be in place this year too.
As for the smaller municipalities that have small coastal towns as well as the parent one, such as Lújar, Sorvilán, Rubite and Polopos-La Mamola, they are up a fabled creek without a paddle, however, as they simply do not have the resources to control their beaches.
The Mayor of Lújar, Mariano González, which has the population of five and a half people, 20 cats and a lost extraterrestrial disguised as a hamster, only has one lifeguard to patrol his beach. The Mayor of Polopos-La Mamola, Matías González, says that they don’t even have a municipal police officer.
So there you have it! The autonomous regions of Spain want an Estado de Alarma but don’t want to ask for one, despite the Central Government offering a regional one for anyone who requested it.
The Junta appears to have lost the page in its dictionary that mentions ‘beach auxiliaries’ but who will no doubt accuse the Central Government of having ripped it out and hidden it.
And, of course, we have a Central Government que no vale ni pa’ estar escondido, and a main opposition party that thinks being in opposition means merely gainsaying anything the government proposes, even though they might think that it is a good idea.
Perhaps somewhere, quietly, somebody is engineering a virus that will give politicians boisterous and bountiful diarrhoea – Where is Doctor No, when you need him?
(News: Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)