LA GUAIRA, Venezuela (AP) — At least some Venezuelans headed back to beach on Friday as the government relaxed lockdown measures aimed at stifling the new coronavirus.
It had been seven months since tourists flung themselves into the beach chairs set out by Douglas Yriarte at La Ultima beach in the Caribbean town of La Guaira, a 30-kilometer (20-mile) drive from the capital, Caracas.
“It was seven hard months. Hard, hard, hard," said Yriarte, who said he'd tried to get by doing construction work.
Vendors once again peddled drinks and snacks to sunbathers. Umbrellas blossomed above the sand.
Restaurants, flower shops, bars, liquor stores and ice cream parlors also opened along the seaside boulevard, albeit with social distancing rules still in place.
President Nicolás Maduro this week announced a broad reopening of most private businesses, parks and beaches around the country, saying the curve of new infections has flattened and “is steadily descending.” Open-air concerts, amusement parks and drive-ins can return as well.
Victoria Colina and her husband have often visited La Guaira to enjoy time on the beach. She said it felt “fabulous” to once again lounge to the sound of the waves.
“The reopening seems fabulous to us because we are fans of the beach. We come all the time,” Colina said
Most government offices still remain closed with few exceptions, such as immigration and identification offices.
But Venezuela’s airports remain closed to international travel and officials haven't said when they plan to resume operations.
The government has reported 88,416 coronavirus infections nationwide since March and 759 deaths due to COVID-19.