July 22 (UPI) -- The city of Venice, Italy, is reducing the maximum capacity of its gondolas from six people to five, but the reason isn't related to COVID-19 -- it's an issue of tourists' weight.
Andrea Balbi, the president of Venice's Gondola Association, which oversees the city's 433 licensed gondoliers and 180 substitutes, said the decision was made to reduce the capacity of the boats to ease the strain on the boatmen who propel them.
"Over the last 10 years or so, tourists weigh more -- and rather than having them step on a scale before they get on, we are limiting the number," Balbi told CNN.
Babi said capacity on the larger "da parada" gondolas, which mainly serve to ferry people across the grand canal, is also being reduced from 14 to 12.
Raoul Roveratto, president of the association of substitute gondoliers, said the weight of passengers can sometimes cause the boats to take on water.
"From some countries, it's like bombs loading on and when [the boat] is fully loaded, the hull sinks and water enters," he told the La Repubblica newspaper. "Going forward with over half a ton of meat on board is dangerous."