Police in the Algarve have been dispersing large groups of Irish and British holidaymakers who are breaking the country’s Covid-19 restrictions, risking the sacrifices locals have made to keep infected numbers down over past few weeks, the authorities have reported.
Officers from the GNR have been forced to empty restaurants and bars who aren’t sufficiently enforcing the Government’s coronavirus rules over the past few weeks in numerous incidents across the region.
In a news report on Portuguese television, one unnamed teenage Irish holidaymaker said he and his friends came to the Algarve every year. When asked how many of his friends were there, he responded: “Like maybe 50”.
Under Portuguese legislation passed in recent months as part of the COVID-19 pandemic, gatherings are limited to 20 people and there is a prohibition of alcohol consumption on public roads. Strict closing times are observed too, with nightclub dancefloors prohibited.
Algarve bar owner Martin Kerr told the Reuters news agency this weekend that alcohol was having a disinhibiting impact on many young tourists visiting the Algarve, affecting their ability to conform to social distancing and correct mask usage.
“With the current restrictions, we have to respect the laws and, after a few drinks, some of them forget,” he told Portuguese broadcaster RTP.
This hasn’t just been an issue at public bars and nightclubs either. RTP reported that the GNR police were frequently called to break up large house parties involving foreign tourists.
Portugal has had 51,463 infections to date and 1,738 deaths. Its infection rate is roughly the same as the Republic of Ireland’s but has less deaths, though it has twice the population.
As a result of the continued presence of Covid-19 in the country, namely concentrated around the capital of Lisbon, Portugal was left off the green list of 15 countries deemed by the Irish Government to be safe for travel. Currently all Irish tourists to Portugal are expected to quarantine for two weeks on their return from the country.