The busiest and most popular beaches in Malaga province will see their capacity reduced by almost half this summer as a result of the pandemic.
Beaches are allowed to open during Phase Two of the lockdown easing plan, a milestone that Malaga province will reach on Monday 1 June. As a result, various councils on the Costa del Sol, who would be responsible for controlling the beaches, are exploring a broad range of measures to implement this, from extra police and lifeguards, to mobile phone apps and drones.
The government this week confirmed that on beaches where a significant influx of bathers is expected "social distancing should be ensured at all times", with a separation of two metres between people from different families and four metres between umbrellas. These distances would need to be greater in areas that are very windy.
As for those who come in groups, the Ministry of Health's recommendation is that no more than 15 people meet at once.
When calculating the capacity of a beach, it is considered that the surface area that each bather will safely occupy is four square metres (including personal items, towels, chairs or sunbeds) and that a minimum strip of six metres will have to be left free on the shore to avoid crowding on the walkway. With these parameters in mind, and assuming that beachgoers will behave responsibly, this means that a large number of beaches on the Malaga coast will have to reduce their usage by half, especially on the urban beaches which are usually the ones that are most frequented.
This figure has been reached by using the standardised formula in Spain from the report 'Tourism as a coastal resource' by professor and expert on tourist beaches, Victor Yepes.
In Malaga city, the council estimates that restrictions would limit capacity on Misericordia and Pedregalejo beaches from 33,800 and 13,520 to 20,280 and 7,098, respectively. The most affected beach in the city would be at Baños del Carmen where only 1,600 people will be allowed at a time, compared to 3,630.
The same story will be repeated across the majority of the densely populated Costa del Sol. Using the same formula, most beaches in urban areas will see their capacity halved, as would be the case with El Cristo in Estepona (4,141, as opposed to 7,887), La Cala de Mijas (from 14,647 to 7,690), San Francisco-Fuengirola (from 3,943 to 2,070) or Santa Ana in Benalmádena (13,295 to 6,980).
The reduction will be closer to 40 per cent in Marbella (El Faro from 5,070 to 3,042 and Guadalmina from 22,533 to 12,844), El Bajondillo in Torremolinos (from 22,533 to 13,365), Torre del Mar in Vélez (from 45,067 to 28,730), Rincón de la Victoria (from 60,850 to 36,504) or Burriana in Nerja (from 22,533 to 14,872).