IN WHAT MIGHT BE LABELLED one of the best examples of bad timing in the modern history of the region, Orihuela City council has ordered the immediate closure of Chiringuito beach bars along the Orihuela Costa coastline.
The order comes just days after the death of a 9 year old British boy on La Zenia beach, a tragedy that renewed calls for the completion of the Orihuela Costa Emergency Services Centre, expected to provide fast access to emergency services for the 30,000 residents of the locality.
Diego Herrera, a member of the Federation of Associations of Orihuela Costa, had suggested last week that automatic defibrillators could be installed in the Chiringuito beach bars, proposing that appropriate First Aid training should be given to staff to ensure their safe use and to provide immediate deliverable improvements to public safety.
Members of the public organised a petition requesting the installation of automatic defibrillators along the popular beaches of the Orihuela Costa, addressing their concerns to Orihuela City Council’s Department for Health and Social Services.
The Chiringuito beach bars, owned and managed by Chiringuitos del Sol, announced the forced closure on their website yesterday, provoking a strong backlash on social media.
The bars had been trading for less than one month into the 2018 season, and the closure has sparked fears that the Orihuela Costa beaches will be left without fundamental and essential services for the forthcoming months.
In a statement on their website, Chiringuitos del Sol wrote “Councillor Procurement of the Orihuela town hall has forced us to close the 11 Chiringuito beach bars that were already in operation at Aguamarina, Mil Palmeras, La Caleta, Punta Prima, La Glea, La Mosca, Playa Flamenca, Cala Cerrada, Cala Bosque, Cala Capitán and Barranco Rubio”.
“We have had to close to all residents and tourists that visit the Orihuela beaches by municipal mandate.”
Chiringuito beach bars closed, possibly for months into the season
The closure was ordered when the Town Hall noticed earlier this week that the contract awarded to operate the beach bars expired in November last year.
Orihuela Council will now invite tender for the service from interested parties, a process expected to take a minimum of two and a half months to complete, leaving the local beaches bereft of essential services until at least the beginning of July.
The popular beach bars provide valuable watering holes for sunseekers and beachgoers, offering shade and light refereshments in an area devoid of local amenities.
Each Chiringuito is strategically located along the coastline to service the requirements of thousands of local residents and tourists enjoying the coastal paths, promenades, and walkways that join the different towns and urbanisations.
Considered an essential part of summer beach life in Spain, the beach bars provided sunbed and sunshade hire, and the decision to close them in a municipality with eleven Blue Flag accredited beaches shortly before the first summer temperatures arrive is likely to prove deeply unpopular.
Perhaps more importantly, the closure of the beach bars eliminates an opportunity to increase public safety for residents and tourists, and the closure of La Zenia’s Chiringuito at Cala Bosque is particularly controversial.
The manager of the beach bar was the first on the scene following last week’s tragedy, and his knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation was credited with keeping the British child alive during the vital minutes it took the emergency medical services to arrive.
Summing up, Chiringuitos del Sol stated “It is our desire to return service to the thousands of people who come every day to the Orihuela Costa. But given the dates, and if this decision is prolonged over time, the beaches of Orihuela could be left without care or services throughout the summer”.
“We deeply regret any inconvenience through actions occurring against our will, and we thank our customers for their loyalty and affection”.
Photo credit: LaZenia.com