Mon, 21 Sep 2020

People heading to the beach in Rio de Janeiro will now be required to reserve a spot on the sand via an app.The new measures were announced on Monday by the city's mayor as part of social distancing rules put in place to stem the spread of Covid-19.Officials had initially said that the city's beaches could only reopen once a vaccine had been found, but Mayor Marcelo Crivella said on Monday that Rio's world-famous beaches could reopen with clearly demarcated areas to keep people apart.However, implementing the measure could prove difficult in a city where the sand has already been packed in recent weeks despite the threat of a 107-real (Dh72) fine."People will be able to remain in demarcated areas, based on the time they arrive and also by reserving via an app," Crivella said during a news conference."That way, we can better organise something that's not working well today."Rio authorities closed beaches in March to fight the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 100,000 people in Brazil, the second-highest death toll in the pandemic, after the US.Rio governor Wilson Witzel admitted at the time that the measure amounted to "heresy" in a place known for its love of the beach.With more than 14,000 deaths, Rio state has been hit harder by the virus than any other in Brazil except for Sao Paulo.On July 31, Crivella reopened the Rio oceanfront for swimming, but sitting on the sand was still off limits.Despite that, throngs of people have crowded famous beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema at weekends recently, soaking up the sun, playing football on the sand and admiring the green mountains lining the turquoise water.Crivella did not set a date for the reopening, saying officials would give more details soon.Other beach destinations have also experimented with technology to reopen.Spain is using drones, Belgium is using sensors and smartphone location trackers, and various places are asking beachgoers to reserve via websites or booking apps.On July 29, Brazil reopened to foreign visitors arriving by plane after a four-month suspension, hoping to revive its lockdown-devastated tourism industry despite its struggles to contain the virus. /

Copyright (c) Published with permission via Big News Network news agency

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