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Spain, Portugal Beaches Begin Opening, French Ban Continues

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced that all beaches in France will remain shut until June 2nd despite an easing of national lockdown rules on May 11. Surfers in Spain and Portugal however have gotten been news as some local beach restrictions are now starting to ease.

France has been under severe current quarantine measures for over six weeks. While an hour of exercise has been allowed, surfing hasn't been permitted. And while there has been some epic conditions in that time the famous beachbreaks have remained empty, as the video from the Hossegor Tourist Board shows.

The Gendarmes have been strict on enforcing the rules and anyone trying to break the embargo have been dealt with harshly. Wavelengthmag.com has reported that three surfers exiting the water were busted by a police helicopter.

"As they sheltered behind their boards from all the sand and debris flying in their faces, the cops had machine guns pointed at them and instructed ‘Ne bougez pas!' (Freeze!) over the heli's speakers," reported Paul Evans. "The bird then landed and made the arrests."

However French surfers were hoping that a relaxation of the national lockdown rules would mean a return to the water. The Prime Minister's announcement of the extended beach closures has therefore come as a shock. Many are understandably angry.

The French Surfing Federation (FFS) has taken up their concerns to the government. "We're seeking a transition period between 11th May and 2nd June to give people access to the sea," said the FFS secretary Jean-Luc Arrassus, "for individual exercise, on the understanding health guidelines and physical distancing are respected."

Elsewhere a petition to the regional governments of France's west coast requesting that individual sports in the ocean should be permitted has gathered some 17,000 signatures.

On the other mainland Europe's Atlantic coasts however there has been some more positive news. Spain and Portugal have started to allow surfing again in some of their respective regions.

For French surfers though it looks like May might be the longest month of their lives.

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