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Don’t pee in the sea

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The Times is not what it was. Long gone are the days when the front page was full of personal ads and public notices. In 2022, therefore, Times readers can discover on the front page – as they would have done on Tuesday – that you can cop a 645 pound (750 euro) fine if you urinate in the sea at any beaches in Vigo, Galicia, a place to which only Times readers presumably go on holiday. And if they do, they would surely not dream of doing such a thing. Times readers, tourists of excess? Never!

A front page slot had been reserved for noting reasons why holidaymakers run the risk of being fined in Spain, The Times very astutely having questioned how it is possible to enforce the no-pee rule, a question that has been asked previously, as I’m sorry to have to inform The Times that it is well off the sea-pee pace – by at least eleven years.

In 2011, the town hall in Muro decreed that anyone having a leak in its sea or on its sand could face a fine of 1,500 euros. Inflation clearly hasn’t been a factor in Vigo, as you can urinate for half the price. At the time, I was at a loss to know how this was going to be policed. Were lifeguards to be dispatched on jet skis and instructed to keep a lookout for any slight discolouring of waters that regularly help to propel Playa de Muro onto those best-of lists? Muro police, it has been reported in the past, are that stretched that they certainly don’t have the time to stand around at the water’s edge scanning the sea with binoculars.

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I suppose that one has to conclude that putting signs up warning of fines for urination are more a form of deterrent than actual enforcement. This said, even when it is clear that the bylaw is being breached, to whom does it apply? Small children, for instance? Not long after Muro came up with its regulation, there we were, on the beach in Muro, and not far away was a child having a tinkle into the vegetation at the back of the beach.

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Yes, it is pretty daft, but not all these regulations are. Muro also introduced fines for music blaring out on the beach. Hear, hear! There is now the movement towards no smoking on beaches, which can only be a good thing, not least for the environment. And away from the beaches, there are also rules which are fair enough. The Times mentioned the Palma bylaw regarding dress (or lack thereof). It didn’t specify that this applies away from beach frontlines, where it is just common courtesy to put a top on.

But then, there are the anomalies. Does anyone recall Palma’s naked man from last summer? He was wandering around with seemingly not a care in the world and most certainly without a stitch on. We never did find out what happened after a couple of police officers had a word, there having been some debate as to whether he was breaking any law. Well, he was – the Palma bylaw for putting a top on.

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