'It's like having three winters': how Covid-19 has changed the British seaside


The pandemic arrived in the run up to the tourist season, hitting seaside towns hard. We visited Brighton to find out how businesses and beach-goers are adapting

Of all the things coronavirus has taken away from life on Brighton’s seafront, among the saddest must be the high-fives. Previously undertaken without worrying where hands have been and what germs they might be carrying, they are now strongly discouraged: a sign actively bans them. “It says ‘No high-fives’,” says Katie Mintram, with a small laugh. She has run Yellowave beach sports centre – a cafe and several volleyball courts – since 2007. She is navigating her way through a summer that feels very different from normal. “In volleyball, it’s all about high-fives.”

Yellowave is on the beach itself. Stepping over the tracks of the Volk’s Electric Railway (still closed) from a very quiet Madeira Drive is like stepping into a parallel world – busy, peopled, thriving, normal. Each of the six courts is full, matches being played by fit, happy people in shorts and bikinis; many of the cafe’s outdoor tables have customers sitting at them. It is nowhere near as bleak as the shuttered snack bars and souvenir shops on the main road. That is because there is a tournament on, explains Mintram – the first of the summer. “If the tournament wasn’t here, it probably would have been a bit more depressing,” she says.

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