Swim, jog, but no sunbathing: France reopens some beaches
Paris: Runners and swimmers rediscovered the sea air Wednesday as France opened a selection of Atlantic coast beaches closed during the coronavirus lockdown, while the Lourdes sanctuary prepared to welcome back Catholic pilgrims this weekend. But the cautious relaxation of restrictions stipulated that while beach-goers can swim or go fishing, no sunbathing is allowed. The Catholic shrine at Lourdes, meanwhile, will allow only a limited number of visitors and keep some areas off-limits. Local officials have reopened a number of beaches on the west of France, banning any “static presence -- seated or lying down”, including picnicking.
Walkers, swimmers, individual watersports practitioners and anglers are welcome, provided they respect the social-distancing rule of one metre (3.3 feet) between individuals, said a tweet from the Loire-Atlantique department. Other beaches remain off-limits, however, including Deauville in Normandy, a favourite with Parisians, for whom it is a 2.5-hour train ride away. “If we say we will open the beaches, everyone will descend on them and it will be a terrible crowd,” Deauville mayor Philippe Augier told the France 3 broadcaster. Beaches on the Mediterranean coast and the North Sea could reopen from this weekend for walks and sporting activities, say local officials. France started emerging Monday from a two-month lockdown, which the government credits with saving tens of thousands of lives by limiting the spread of the coronavirus, but which has exacted a heavy economic toll. - AFP