Life in Nerja carries on pretty much as normal, as August comes to an end – the beaches are all open, the bars and restaurants are all busy and tourists are everywhere, albeit with far fewer foreign visitors than normal.

The government and local council have put in place various measures in an effort to keep people safe, which by and large seem to have worked. At the time of writing, there have been a total (over the whole period of the pandemic) of 31 diagnosed cases of Covid in the town (out of 400,000 cases nationally) and sadly 1 death. Nationally, northern parts of Spain are doing badly, with large outbreaks in the Basque region, Madrid and Aragon accounting for the majority of new cases.

Andalucia continues, as it did during the original crisis, with low infection rates compared to the rest of the country, with only two other mainland regions doing better (Extramadura and Asturias). Andalucia is one of the largest regions in Spain, with a large spread out population, helping so far to keep the expansion of the disease in check, but numbers have been rising over the summer weeks.

Health is the responsibility of the individual autonomous communities (regions) in Spain, so the regions have taken their own measures at different times, with different results. The main safety measures imposed in Nerja by the council and the regional government are as follows:-

– the use of masks is now obligatory in all places open to the public. Once you are seated at a bar or restaurant or are lying on your towel on the beach, you can take the mask off. Masks are not required when jogging, cycling or in the sea (or walking from your towel to the sea). In general the rule is well respected, but if you don’t want to wear a mask, please don’t come to Nerja.

 – every beach now has its total capacity (aforo) marked on a sign, to ensure each group can keep a mininum of 2 metres distance from their neighbours. The beaches are patrolled by “Playas Seguras” wardens who ensure the safety rules are being followed. When the “Safe Beaches” wardens estimate that the beach can no longer accommodate more people, the local police close the accesses, only allowing people in when others have left. The system works well and as a result sunbathers are not packed in like sardines as in previous summers and can use the beach in safety. The council now closes the beaches at midnight, to prevent groups of predominantly young people holding “botellones” – drinking parties.

 – the majority of bars and restaurants are now open, operating almost as normal. Tables and chairs are sprayed with disinfectant between guests, hand gel is provided and menus have been replaced by disposable printed sheets or electronic versions you can download on your phone. Nightclubs and late night drinking bars have all been shut permanently, other bars have to close by 1am (and may not admit new customers after midnight).

– all water based sports activities are operating as normal, with boating kayaking, stand up paddling, parascending and pedalos all as busy as usual. The Rio Chillar walk has been closed, to avoid the large number of people who normally crowd it during the summer months.

 – is no longer permitted in public if you can not maintain a distance of 2m from other people. As such many establishments have banned smoking from their terraces. This rule appears to be well respected.

 – most of the hotels in Nerja are open, as are apartments and villas. There are strict rules on cleaning and disinfecting that all such establishments have to follow, to ensure visitors have a safe overnight stay.

 – all the supermarkets are open as normal, as are the majority of small shops. Masks are required to be worn and disinfectant hand gel is provided at the entrances.

 – people are not restricted in where they can travel and can freely visit other parts of Andalucia or Spain. There are regular flights into Malaga Airport, although with less frequency than before.

Now that we are heading towards the end of summer, visitor numbers are expected to drop off and the town will probably have a much quieter autumn than in normal years. No new measures have been announced by the government for the end of summer and it remains to be seen how the pandemic plays out nationally and here in Nerja and what the autumn holds for the country.

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