Sun-seekers and beach bums returning to Spain's coastlines when the lockdown ends and travel restrictions have eased will have to observe life-saving social distancing.

Scenes like this may not return to Spanish beaches for a while as social distancing rules are set to last for the foreseeable future ©Denis Belitsky/Shutterstock

On 16 March, Spain entered a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. All non-essential businesses closed, borders were sealed and its world-famous shores were shut to the public with red flags hoisted on beaches. After Easter weekend, some of those restrictions were lifted with a small percentage of the population returning to work in non-essential industries.

And while more restrictions will be eased in May, tourism minister Reyes Maroto told El Pais newspaper she did not know when borders would reopen. She said it depends on how "the health crisis evolves" but advised tourism will be one of the last sectors to "overcome the crisis".

Tourists rest along Barceloneta beach in May 2013 in Barcelona, Spain ©tkemot/Shutterstock

Beaches remain closed and swimming in the sea is off-limits under the state of emergency rules, even with warmer weather on the horizon. Ms Maroto said social distancing rules will continue for the foreseeable and beachgoers will have to adjust their behaviour accordingly. That means that even at the peak of summer crowds will be prohibited and it's likely there will be strict rules regarding towel placement and swimming.

"It is very important that we continue to follow health recommendations, we must keep up what we are doing now, washing our hands, keeping social distance... even on the beach," she explained. "Until there is a vaccine nothing will be the way it was before. Gatherings will have to have limitations to maintain an adequate safety distance."

Beach-goers will have to sit six metres apart when Spain reopens its beaches ©Santiago Cornejo/Shutterstock

According to the UN World Tourism Organisation Spain is the second-most visited country in the world, after France. Its vibrant blend of brilliant beaches, culture, food, history and year-round sunshine lured a record-breaking 83.7 million visitors last year.

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