PM António Costa hoists Green Flag in Portimão to mark opening of beach season
António Costa spoke this past weekend with lifeguards and beach assistants who are informing and guiding beachgoers as to the care to be taken on the region’s beaches. Arrows indicating dedicated routes for entering and leaving, well-prepared beach support measures, beach guides, and motivated lifeguards are just some of the implemented procedures. This was the scenario that António Costa found at Praia da Rocha, in Portimão, although with less sunbathers than usual.
“The beach has no extra hazardous factors. In fact, for many viruses, heat and ultraviolet rays from the sun are factors that prevent them from spreading. Unfortunately, we still don’t know COVID-19 fully enough to be able to make that statement though. Groups must keep a distance of five feet from each other still. On concessioned beaches, towels and umbrellas must be three meters apart. The rules are defined and imply common sense ”, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, minister of the Environment and Energy Transition, began to explain to journalists, before the rest of the delegation went down to the beach, where the Prime Minister hoisted the green flag that officially opened the ‘bathing season’ for 2020.
According to Isilda Gomes, Mayor of Portimão, who was also the first mayor to deal with the pandemic in the Algarve after announcing the region’s first case only a few months ago, this crisis resulted in a whole “network of synergies that made Portugal jump into the limelight and the Algarve as the safest tourist region to spend holidays. We owe it to your determination and your government, which were essential”, she said, addressing António Costa.
“Entrepreneurs, with their resilience and ability to reorganize themselves, are here today to fight for our tourism, for Portugal and for the Algarve. Today is an extremely happy day for all of us. Without them I doubt that we would have ever celebrated the opening of the bathing season with the strength and enthusiasm that we are doing today. This represents a new stage. It represents the opening of a door to the future. It represents a new life, for our businessmen who are going through a very bad phase, to whom the government has given their hand so that they do not sink any more, because in fact this is a time that no one expected “, she added.
The pandemic “is a passage from history that we will certainly remember for the rest of our lives, but that we will do everything we can to move on from. That is why it is important to open the beaches. Citizens need rest and leisure. Citizens suffered a lot during these three months. We all suffered. That is why we deserve to be here today, and that the ministers of Environment and Defence have worked to build the rules, with the support of health workers, so that we can all enjoy the beach safely”, said Gomes.
The mayor admitted that she was sceptical at the beginning of this process to reopen the nation’s beaches, especially when the rules began to be drawn up. “I had many doubts as to whether it would be possible to put them into practice. We came to this understanding and today what I thought would be very difficult to implement is here clearly visible to everyone. I don’t know if we are going to have an excellent tourism season. But there is one thing that I guarantee: the mayors, businessmen and citizens of Portimão will do everything to (welcome) those who choose our city, our municipality, to come to rest and enjoy the deserved vacation. We just need to look at the rules and stick to them” she concluded.
António Costa’s expected speech was brief, but familiar. “A lot of people wondered if we can go to the beach this year. Yes, only as long as we do it safely. In fact, it was always like that in relation to the beaches. There have always been rules. This year we have a new rule” he said.
“Also on the beach, just like at work, at school, on public transport, on the street, in the commercial space or anywhere, we have to respect distancing and respiratory hygiene. If we do, the beach will do as well for our health as in previous years,” said the Prime Minister.
“As of today, it is fine to go to the beach, with one condition: that this is done safely. If we all do that, we will continue to enjoy the freedom of going to the beach, and to correspond to what my parents taught me: the beach is good for your health, and our health needs the beach this summer of 2020 more than ever”, he concluded.
Photo credit to Bruno Filipe Pires of the Barlavento newspaper