Hit the beach!
It comes as forecasters warned of record May temperature this weekend, which could hit 40 degrees.
Mayors from all the country’s municipalities confronted tourism and environmental minister Ünal Üstel on Tuesday. Their leader, the mayor of Güzelyurt, Mahmut Özçınar, said there was an ‘overwhelming desire’ from the public and municipalities to “open beaches by June 1.”
He said the municipalities were willing to reduce the number of sun beds at the beaches, have periodic disinfecting of them and instruct users to observe the 2m social distancing
But Esentepe mayor Cemal Erdoğan said: “We have eight big sandy and six smaller beaches in our municipality which includes the 5km-long Alagadi stretch. How are we supposed to impose such a ban when people have already started bathing at the seaside? Do they think we are going to send municipality workers into the sea and drag people out?
“Health experts have clearly said that this virus doesn’t survive in salty water or heat. If necessary, the current charge of 2.5TL price for access to a public beach will be increased to 4TL so as to cover costs of employing additional workers and sterilisation of sun beds.”
He also said that he had advised minister Ünal Üstel to allow cafes and restaurants to be opened at the beach so as not to leave people without food and water. “We will have temperature checks. Sun beds will be replaced to observe the 2m social distancing. You cannot stop people from going to the beach!” he said.
Lapta mayor Mustafa Aktuğ said: “We support the view of opening beaches by June 1. We have received lots of requests especially from our expat residents who are asking whether it is legal to go to the beaches. We communicated these to the government. We proposed if necessary not having sun beds, but to have a universal list of conditions that must be observed such as temperature checks, social distancing of 2m, and sun beds being periodically disinfected.”
Alsancak mayor Fırat Ataser said: “We have requested for beaches to be opened by Bayram (Eid),” – the first day being next Sunday.
“What logic is there in not allowing the beaches to be opened? We have had no Covid-19 cases for a month. No one is going to the hospital for it. There is a normalisation process in the country, and temperatures are peaking. Salt water is the best disinfectant and with the heat it is the most hygienic for all of us. What needs to be done is to have rules for social distancing of 2m, and to disinfect sun beds and shower facilities and changing rooms etc. We are prepared to do this at municipal beaches and have stated we will have stringent checks for beaches run by private firms.”
Deniz Kızı hotel owner Ahmet Aydeniz said: “Our beach is usually crowded because of its unique nature of being a small sandy cove. We support the idea of allowing beaches to be opened immediately. We will halve the number of sun beds to respect the 2m distancing, and frequently clean the beds with disinfectant and adhere to the rules imposed by the government.
However, it’s worth noting that many other countries – such as in the US, Spain and other Mediterranean countries . . . have been opened but with certain measures. This should be done in the TRNC too.”
İskele mayor Hasan Sadıkoğlu said: “We are quite different to Girne, Alsancak and Lapta areas concerning our beach structure. We have miles of long sandy beaches. There is no ‘entry’ and ‘exit’ point for beaches and they are very difficult to regulate.
“The tourism ministry has asked for our views for observing a 2m distance between sun beds. Our position whatever is finalised will be that each sun bed be separated by a distancing of 4m. We usually require about 16 workers for 500 beds. This can be increased. But we have asked for the state to assist municipalities in disinfecting costs because they cut our budget by 25 per cent. The best form of disinfectant is sea water. The virus cannot survive this and the heat. It’s much safer to go to the beach than anywhere else as long as social distancing is observed.”
Mr Üstel stated that they were currently working on plans to open the beaches “but we have to be careful not to relax the measures. We respect the view that as temperatures increase, the desire of the public to go out, is also increasing. We are preparing the rules for beaches with consultations with the municipalities. We have a view to opening the beaches on June 1 and to kick start domestic tourism. We are working on ways of having only one entry/exit point per beach. Beach cafeterias will need to adhere to social distancing rules,” he added.
SPOT BLOB !! The Meteorology department issued a weather warning of “record temperatures” for May this weekend, with temperatures expected to be 8 to 10 degrees Centigrade higher than normal , reaching up to 40 degrees C.