Life can be a beach when there's a pandemic happening
A trip to the beach, whether for taking a dip in the sea or a tanning session, used to be the perfect outing for a carefree summer's day.
But this year, even with all major beaches opening up to visitors, the atmosphere is quite different, as concerns about the coronavirus pandemic show no signs of subsiding.
In comparison to previous years when major beaches like Haeundae in Busan were so packed that there was no open seating area, the scene this year was another story.
The number of visitors to beaches this year as of July 6 are estimated to be 38 percent of the number seen during the same period last year, with some 2.1 million people went on excursions to see the sand and sea.
While the total number of beachgoers is down, the popular beaches which attract more visitors are raising concerns about social distancing.
To disperse visitors, some beaches are requiring prior reservations while others are running checkpoints at which health-related questions must be answered.
Some beaches in South Jeolla including Mokpo and Goheung require visitors to make a reservation through web portal Naver or a website run by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
Here, you can make a reservation for a visit up to three days a week, with the option to stay for up to three hours.
Along with the reservations, at the entrances of beaches will be centers where staff will take visitors' temperatures before giving them a wrist band.
Some beaches in Gangwon only allow visitors who have checked in with a QR code to use facilities like shower rooms.
While some beaches strongly recommended visitors wear masks, other beaches are making it a requirement. Masks can be removed when going in the water but need to be worn at all other times. Some districts will even issue fines for those not wearing one.
Eating and drinking on beaches after 6 p.m or 7 p.m., which was allowed last year, has been forbidden in efforts to cut down hours that people stay on the beach.
There are currently plans in place to print English-language leaflets to inform foreign visitors about the new rules.
Log onto the website of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries to check how busy major beaches are.
Information for 50 of the most visited beaches in the nation, including Haeundae and Gwangalli in Busan, Naksan Beach in Gangwon’s Yangyang and Daecheon Beach in South Chungcheong’s Boryeong can be found online.
To display how busy beaches are, the online system also sorts them into varying colors of green, yellow and red.
Green means there is enough space for people to maintain social distance, yellow indicates that it is recommended that you look for another beach to visit and if red, a mass text will be sent out to alert people that the beach won’t be available for use and that rentals of all sun umbrellas and other beach items will be halted.
For more up-to-date information, go to seantour.kr, where you can also make a reservation for the beach you want to visit.
BY LEE SUN-MIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]