“Abnormal” increase in motorhomes and tourists along Alentejo coast worries mayors
This week the Alentejo coast has seen an “abnormal” increase in motorhomes and tourists seeking to allegedly take refuge from the new virus in their motorhomes, several mayors of the region reported today.
“Many motorhomes are circulating” around the municipality, “probably due to the fact that are not as infected with the coronavirus in Alentejo”, said the Mayor of Grândola, António Figueira Mendes. In the neighbouring municipality of Santiago do Cacém, in the district of Setúbal, the situation also worsened this week with “an abnormal influx” of motorhomes “of various nationalities”, which clogged the parking area of ??the Santo André lagoon, forcing the hand of the local GNR to send them on their way, described the president of the parish council, David Gorgulho, to the Lusa news agency.
“The information came to us that there was an abnormal influx of motorhomes, from various parts of Europe, to the coast and, of course, that the coronavirus pandemic can be the only justification for this situation at this time of the year ”said Gorgulho.
Following reports from residents throughout the day on Monday, the mayor decided to “demand very incisive action” from the GNR, which “guaranteed that the motorhomes would leave the area for good or ill”, in hopes of dispersing the tourists.
“What is certain is that this was a very negative point, because we had many motorhomes of various nationalities, in particular Germans, who had to pass through France and Spain to get here. We are not playing with pandemics, and the local authorities can’t make things easy,” warned the Mayor of the Santo André Parish Council.
In the municipality of Grândola, according to Mayor António Figueira Mendes, the situation forced the municipality to take unprecedented measures, including the closure of the Lousal caravan park. “People are taking refuge in this area and for this reason we decided to close the caravan park in the interior of the municipality. However, we have still not managed to close the Grândola caravan park, but we have this concern and we are going to raise awareness so that people do not park for a long time and in the same place ”, he said.
The mayor assured that the local authorities “will follow up on these cases whenever justified” and will seek “to minimise the parking and large agglomerations of motorhomes”. “We have many Portuguese and foreign tourists with holiday homes in the municipality, namely in the parish of Carvalhal, who took the opportunity to take refuge here. This creates some concern, because they have made many purchases in supermarkets, which contributes to the population not having access to the necessary goods also”, he added.
Further south, in Vila Nova de Milfontes, in the municipality of Odemira (Beja), the scenario being reported is exactly the same, and, last weekend, many people sought refuge in the area, opting for holiday homes or resorting to the rental of real estate. “In the past few days we have come across many people who have a holiday home in this area and have taken refuge in the Alentejo, perhaps because we have low cases on the coronavirus map and to escape the confusion and the possibility of contamination in the cities, although there is a risk of transmission,” the mayor of the Vila Nova de Milfontes Parish Council told Lusa.
“We had many Portuguese during the weekend, some with holiday homes and others who rented, to reportedly quarantine themselves in the Alentejo”, underlined Francisco Lampreia, indicating that Vila Nova de Milfontes receives throughout the year “many tourists from northern Europe “and that, “in a situation like this, they stay and don’t leave”.
Contacted by Lusa, the commander of the Santiago do Cacém detachment of the GNR, Lieutenant Luís Molano, assured that patrolling “is being done with some regularity” along the coast, “where there is much caravanning, and people are fined” always when infractions are detected.
“Right now, there is no legislation that prohibits people from free movement. No measures have been enacted in this regard and what is advisable is to stay at home if you do not need to travel,” he said.
In the interior of the Alentejo, the mayor of Beja, Paulo Arsénio, agreed that, over the past weekend, there was an “atypical and unusual” number of motorhomes with registration plates from various countries, with “greater incidence” in Spain, stopped in car parks in the city, such as those of large commercial areas.
“They were people who did not stop at the Beja Camping Park and who were in transit, they were appearing and disappearing” and, on Monday, the number of motorhomes “substantially reduced”, he concluded, admitting that “they may have been people in transit from Spain to the Alentejo coast or in reverse, due to the imminence of restrictions at the border”which ended up being adopted on Monday.