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Rio scraps beach app reservation idea

Rio de Janeiro said Monday that Mayor Marcelo Crivella had scrapped his proposal to have people reserve space on the beach via an app to contain COVID-19, after the idea came in for ridicule.

\This file photo was taken on March 20, 2020, shows an aerial view of a few people enjoying Leme beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, despite the request by the State Government to avoid going to the beach or any other public areas as a measure to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. (Photo by Mauro PIMENTEL / AFP)

Crivella had said a week before that the Brazilian city’s iconic beaches could only fully reopen with clearly demarcated areas to keep people apart, and proposed a cell phone application to reserve them.

But the idea of an app capable of regimenting the legendary free-for-all of the city’s beaches met with criticism, and unleashed a flood of memes online poking fun at the idea.

“City hall has heard the criticism and decided not to pursue the project of demarcating space on the beach,” the mayor’s office said in an email to AFP.

“Sitting on the sand for leisure will remain prohibited, to avoid crowds.”

Crivella said Sunday that the city had carried out a survey and found that “people did not think (the proposal) was going to work.”

Rio authorities closed beaches in March to fight the spread of the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 108,000 people in Brazil, the second-highest death toll in the pandemic, after the United States.

With nearly 15,000 deaths, Rio de Janeiro state has been hit harder by the virus than any other in Brazil except Sao Paulo.

On July 31, Crivella reopened the Rio ocean front for swimming, but sitting on the sand remains off-limits.

Despite that, throngs of people have crowded beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema on recent weekends.

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