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Lines of up to two hours long form as Benidorm makes people reserve a place on the beach

Tourists complained of waits of up to two hours to claim their spot on the beach in Benidorm on Friday as its pre-booking system finally got up and running.

Holidaymakers faced having to queue to make their beach reservation for the first time in the famous resort’s history following the coronavirus crisis.

Monica Gomez, the councillor responsible for the town’s beaches, on the Costa Blanca in south-east Spain, claimed tranquillity had been the ‘tonic of the day’.

But visitors and locals moaned they had been waiting for up to two hours at reservation stands set up for sunseekers who couldn’t or didn’t want to pre-book online.

They had to wear face masks to claim their spot on the sand, making their wait even more uncomfortable in temperatures of around 82F (28 degrees Celsius).

Tourists complained of waits of up to two hours to claim their spot on the beach in Benidorm on Friday as its pre-booking system finally got up and running. Holidaymakers faced having to queue to make their beach reservation for the first time in the famous resort’s history following the coronavirus crisis

Monica Gomez, the councillor responsible for the town's beaches, claimed tranquillity had been the 'tonic of the day'. But visitors and locals moaned they had been waiting for up to two hours at reservation stands set up for sunseekers who couldn't or didn't want to pre-book online

Monica Gomez, the councillor responsible for the town’s beaches, claimed tranquillity had been the ‘tonic of the day’. But visitors and locals moaned they had been waiting for up to two hours at reservation stands set up for sunseekers who couldn’t or didn’t want to pre-book online

The pre-booking system is only in operation at the moment for Levante Beach and not Poniente Beach.

Mrs Gomez admitted to some ‘teething problems’ but insisted: ‘Tranquility has been the dominant tonic of the first day beach users had to pre-book to get on Levante Beach.

‘Problems that have occurred have been resolved in situ at the reservation points by the beach entry points, where people have been given all the information they needed for the new system.’

She added: ‘We’re conscious these changes require a process of adaptation and assimilation by beach users but we’re certain they understand the exceptional circumstances we’re experiencing at the moment and realise it’s vital to regulate the use of the beaches so the greatest number possible of people can enjoy them and do so safely.’

Benidorm Council said in a statement the beach had reached near maximum capacity during most of the day and 80 per cent of beach space had already been reserved two and a half hours after bookings for Saturday began to be taken at midday on Friday.

Officials said 95 per cent of bookings were being made online.

They had to wear face masks to claim their spot on the sand, making their wait even more uncomfortable in temperatures of around 82F (28 degrees Celsius)

They had to wear face masks to claim their spot on the sand, making their wait even more uncomfortable in temperatures of around 82F (28 degrees Celsius)

Benidorm mayor Toni Perez announced earlier this week the pre-booking system would swing into action for Levante beach yesterday/on Thursday for the first time so people could reserve their spot on the sand from today/Friday.

He said at the time: ‘We have a system of reservations and limits on the amount of people who can use our beaches that mean we have the safest beaches in Europe.

‘The pre-booking system is going to be activated from midday this Thursday.

‘People will be able to book their spot on the beach for the following day so this Friday will be the first day beachgoers will have had to use the system to be able to access the beach.

‘The system will only be implemented from Thursday at midday for Levante Beach where some problems in terms of people being able to enjoy the beach as they should, have been detected.’

Mrs Gomez admitted to some 'teething problems' but insisted: 'Tranquility has been the dominant tonic of the first day beach users had to pre-book to get on Levante Beach'

Mrs Gomez admitted to some ‘teething problems’ but insisted: ‘Tranquility has been the dominant tonic of the first day beach users had to pre-book to get on Levante Beach’

He added: ‘Last weekend and on Saturday especially more than 29,000 people were on our beaches.

‘Controlling the amount of people on the beach is a legal obligation and we want to make sure as many as possible can enjoy sunbathing and swimming as possible during any one day.’

Local media had been speculating the pre-booking system would be up and running at some point this week after the busiest weekend so far this year on Benidorm’s beaches.

The famous resort was given a boost at the start of the month when the King and Queen of Spain enjoyed a meet and greet with holidaymakers during a visit.

The new rules are part of a so-called ‘Benidorm Beach Safety Plan’.

Tourists already have to stay within one of 5,000 13x13ft squares marked out on its famous Poniente and Levante beaches – colour-coded blue for general use or red for the over-70s who have been allocated designated areas.

Benidorm Council said in a statement the beach had reached near maximum capacity during most of the day and 80 per cent of beach space had already been reserved two and a half hours after bookings for Saturday began to be taken at midday on Friday. Pictured: Tourists who made it on to the beach on Friday

Benidorm Council said in a statement the beach had reached near maximum capacity during most of the day and 80 per cent of beach space had already been reserved two and a half hours after bookings for Saturday began to be taken at midday on Friday. Pictured: Tourists who made it on to the beach on Friday

Ball games have also been banned outside of areas which are normally provided on a permanent basis for beach volley and football.

The booking system is part of ongoing measures being employed in different parts of Spain to control the spread of coronavirus. 

Residents of Barcelona have been urged to stay home and not gather in groups of more than ten in order to fight an increase in coronavirus cases.

But the regional government, in Catalonia, stopped short of imposing a mandatory lockdown for Spain’s second-largest city and said the measures were meant to avoid having to do so. 

And mandatory use of masks, even when outdoors, is rapidly spreading across Spain as officials grapple with more than 150 active outbreaks.

By Thursday, 12 of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions had approved mandatory use of masks outdoors and regardless of whether social distancing of 1.5 meters (5 feet) can be maintained. 

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