Tourists are being hit with fines for attempting to reserve spaces on Spain's newly-reopened beaches by placing their towels in advantageous spots.
With space at a premium as many resorts impose strict capacity limits on beaches in order to comply with social distancing regulations, several seaside authorities in Spain have launched a crackdown on the owners of unattended parasols, sunbeds and other beach paraphernalia.
Since beaches reopened in Spain after the country's three-month state of emergency ended on June 21, authorities have divided off spaces for users and installed cameras or launched drones to help ensure beaches do not become too crowded.
In some resorts, early birds who try to reserve a place in the sun by laying out towels before they are ready to lie on them are seeing sunbeds carted away by police and also face fines if caught, or when they reclaim their possessions.
Police in the Costa del Sol town of Torrox have already handed out 100 fines during a crackdown at the resort's Ferrara beach.
"This year we add the Covid-19 issue as an additional reason to be responsible and not leave those items that occupy a space that for reasons of capacity and distance can be used by others," Torrox council said in a statement.
Authorities in Peñíscola, north of Valencia, last week started dishing out fines of up to 750 euros to beachgoers caught leaving hammocks, parasols or other sunbathing gear on the sand, while Malaga's city council also announced a ban on reserving spaces as well as fines of up to 1,500 euros for the unauthorised erection of canopy structures.
But some beachgoers want to see more action against those who hog the best shoreline spots.
"Many people just close their parasols and leave their things to go off to eat so no one will take their place," users of Sagunto beach complained to the Levante newspaper.
Despite Sagunto council having introduced a fine of 150 euros for leaving beach equipment unattended, beachgoers claimed "the police are simply looking the other way" as it was revealed that no fines had been imposed by the start of this week.
Increased demand for space with the return of foreign tourists after quarantine requirements were dropped for visitors from EU countries and Britain this month has seen many beaches forced to close at peak times.
Fifteen beaches in Malaga province had to shut temporarily on Sunday to allow for crowds to be eased.