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After 7 months, it's back to the beach for some Venezuelans

At least some Venezuelans headed back to beach on Friday as the government relaxed lockdown measures aimed at stifling the new coronavirus.

It had been seven months since tourists flung themselves into the beach chairs set out by Douglas Yriarte at La Ultima beach in the Caribbean town of La Guaira, a 30-kilometer (20-mile) drive from the capital, Caracas.

“It was seven hard months. Hard, hard, hard," said Yriarte, who said he'd tried to get by doing construction work.

Douglas Yriarte carries rental chairs for tourists on the La Ultima beach which was closed for months amid the COVID-19 pandemic in La Guaira, Venezuela, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Strict quarantine restrictions forced the closure of beaches across the country in March, and reopened this week in hopes of revitalizing the battered economy. (AP PhotoMatias Delacroix)

Vendors once again peddled drinks and snacks to sunbathers. Umbrellas blossomed above the sand.

Restaurants, flower shops, bars, liquor stores and ice cream parlors also opened along the seaside boulevard, albeit with social distancing rules still in place.

President Nicolás Maduro this week announced a broad reopening of most private businesses, parks and beaches around the country, saying the curve of new infections has flattened and “is steadily descending.” Open-air concerts, amusement parks and drive-ins can return as well.

Friends take photos of themselves on La Ultima beach which was reopened this week after it was closed for months amid the COVID-19 pandemic in La Guaira, Venezuela, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Strict quarantine restrictions forced the closure of beaches across the country in March and reopened this week in hopes of revitalizing the battered economy. (AP PhotoMatias Delacroix)

Victoria Colina and her husband have often visited La Guaira to enjoy time on the beach. She said it felt “fabulous” to once again lounge to the sound of the waves.

“The reopening seems fabulous to us because we are fans of the beach. We come all the time,” Colina said

Most government offices still remain closed with few exceptions, such as immigration and identification offices.

Tourists' cars are parked along Los Angeles beach after it recently reopened following a lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 in La Guaira, Venezuela, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Strict quarantine restrictions forced the closure of beaches across the country in March and reopened this week. (AP PhotoMatias Delacroix)

But Venezuela’s airports remain closed to international travel and officials haven't said when they plan to resume operations.

The government has reported 88,416 coronavirus infections nationwide since March and 759 deaths due to COVID-19.

People swim off Los Angeles beach after it recently reopened following a lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 in La Guaira, Venezuela, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Strict quarantine restrictions forced the closure of beaches across the country in March and reopened this week. (AP PhotoMatias Delacroix)

Couple Juan Peñalver and Victoria Colina rest on Mansa beach after it recently reopened following a lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 in La Guaira, Venezuela, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Strict quarantine restrictions forced the closure of beaches across the country in March and reopened this week in hopes of revitalizing the battered economy. (AP PhotoMatias Delacroix)

Mariana Rojas plays with her dog Sussy in the waves off Los Angeles beach after it recently reopened following a lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 in La Guaira, Venezuela, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Strict quarantine restrictions forced the closure of beaches across the country in March and reopened this week. (AP PhotoMatias Delacroix)

Caracas resident Jose Velasco lifts his daughter Ashley Velasco above a wave off La Ultima beach after it recently reopened following a lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 in La Guaira, Venezuela, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Strict quarantine restrictions forced the closure of beaches across the country in March and reopened this week. (AP PhotoMatias Delacroix)