Public soak up the sun amid new rules

Italian officials want to open the country's borders on June 3 in a bid to boost tourism.
Italian officials want to open the country's borders on June 3 in a bid to boost tourism.

People across Europe and the United States have soaked up the sun where they could while governments grappled with how and when to let in foreign travellers in hopes of salvaging the northern summer tourist season amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Beach patrols and police watched to make sure people abided by the social-distancing rules and spread out on the sand and at parks.

The US is on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days while Europe has registered more than 169,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The New York Times marked the horror by devoting Sunday's entire front page to a long list of names of those who have died in the US. The headline: "An Incalculable Loss".

US President Donald Trump played golf at one of his courses during the Memorial Day weekend - the unofficial start of summer - as he urged states to ease their lockdowns.

Across Europe, a mishmash of travel restrictions appears to be on the horizon, often depending on what passports visitors carry. Germany, France and other European countries aim to open their borders for European travel in mid-June. But it isn't clear when intercontinental travel will resume.

Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries and also one of the world's top destinations for international travellers, says it won't reopen for foreign tourists until July. To boost the economy, the country's leader has encouraged Spaniards to start planning their holidays for late June inside Spain.

"Come July, we will allow the arrival of foreign tourists to Spain under safe conditions," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said. "We will guarantee that tourists are not at risk and that they don't represent a risk" to Spain.

In Germany, domestic tourists will be allowed to return on Monday to the country's Baltic Sea coast and to hotels in Berlin.

In France, families flocked to the beach at La Grande Motte on the Mediterranean, swimming and sunbathing with 8-square-metre spaces marked off with ropes and wooden stakes to keep people apart. Reservations were required, and there was already a two-day waiting list.

Other beaches in France have also reopened but only for exercise, with visitors not allowed to sit or lie down.

In Paris, where all city parks remain closed, locals soaked up the sun along the embankments of the Seine River and lounged on ledges outside the Tuileries Gardens. In some spots, people sat safely spaced apart. Elsewhere, groups of mask-less teens crowded together, shrugging off the rules.

Beginning on Monday, France is relaxing its border restrictions, allowing in migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries. But it is calling for a voluntary 14-day quarantine for people arriving from Britain and Spain, because those countries imposed a similar requirement on the French.

Italy, which plans to open regional and international borders on June 3 in a bid to boost tourism, is only now allowing locals back to beaches in their own regions - with restrictions.

For the first time in months, the faithful gathered in the Vatican's St Peter's Square for the traditional Sunday papal blessing but they kept their distance from one another. About 2000 Muslims gathered for Eid al-Fitr prayers at a sports complex in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, spaced 1 meter apart and wearing masks.

Beachside communities in England urged Londoners and others to stay away after rules were eased to allow people to drive any distance for exercise or recreation. The southern coastal city of Brighton said: "Wish you were here - but not just yet." Wales kept up its "Later" tourism campaign, reminding people that its hotels, restaurants and tourist sites are still closed.

Worldwide, more than 5.3 million people have been infected and 342,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins tally that experts say undercounts the true toll.

Australian Associated Press