A plan to allow private beaches in Nice to expand into stretches that were previously free to the public has provoked a bitter row amid accusations of “segregation by money”.
Christian Estrosi, the conservative mayor, says granting beaches that charge for admission an extra 50 feet in width is a temporary measure to help them maintain social distancing without drastically reducing the number of customers.
一本道理不卡一二三区But Left-wing politicians accuse him of cronyism and imposing “segregation by money at the expense of the poor”. Mireille Damiano, a lawyer who heads a local coalition of Leftist parties, said: “For Mr Estrosi, social distancing means crowding those who cannot pay on reduced areas of beaches in order to give those who can pay more space.”
Mr Estrosi, who himself caught Covid-19 in March, rejects the charge of favouritism towards local businesses. He argues that private beaches are a key part of Nice’s tourism-dependent economy and provide many jobs.
“This measure is to give the tourist industry a chance to maintain revenue at an extremely difficult time,” he said.
一本道理不卡一二三区Nice has about 35 beaches, 15 of which are private. They rent deckchairs, beach umbrellas and loungers. Most have restaurants and bars serving lunch, cocktails and snacks.
一本道理不卡一二三区Many Riviera beaches opened on Saturday for walking, swimming and individual sports, but crowds of sunbathers are not likely to be allowed back for many weeks. Nice is France’s second most popular tourist destination after Paris, but at a time of year when the resort would normally be packed, hotels and restaurants remain closed.
Christine Sicard, 46, a local resident, said: “Public beaches here are usually crowded but if we now have to do social distancing and private beaches are given more space, it means some people won’t be able to go to the beach. Those who can afford to pay €50 (£45) can stay all day. Our mayor is the mayor of the rich.”
一本道理不卡一二三区But René Colomban, head of the local association of private beach operators, said: “This measure costs the taxpayer nothing and saves jobs, while 80 per cent of Nice’s beaches will still be public.”
Residents of several French cities including Paris and Lyon have expressed misgivings about proposals to give cafés and restaurants extra pavement space to set up socially-distanced terraces. The authorities are desperately trying to save a hard-hit industry, but already some people living near cafés are concerned that the terraces will take over narrow streets and cause noise.