Pharmacies in the Algarve have been able to meet the increasing demand for rapid antigen Covid-19 tests following the government’s imposition that forces restaurants to request a negative result from diners (when eating inside the premises) at weekends in high-risk boroughs.
“Demand is high, both from national and foreign citizens, but supply of rapid antigen tests has never been a problem,” António Pedro, owner of the Palma Santos pharmacy in Praia da Rocha (Portimão), told Lusa news agency.
Said Pedro, the “race for rapid tests with State support” started almost as soon as the government measures were announced.
But, at the Palma Santos pharmacy, tests have never gone out of stock as plenty were purchased beforehand, the owner explained, adding that there are “several suppliers” which means “it is unlikely they will run out any time soon”.
Four pharmacies in Albufeira were also contacted by Lusa, all of which confirmed that they have not run out of rapid tests since the measure was announced.
“There has been a very large increase in the demand for rapid tests, especially from national citizens, but we have always been able to meet demand,” Maria Campos, a pharmacist in Olhos d’Água, told Lusa.
Rapid antigen tests are paid for in full by the State since July 1, with 406 pharmacies around the country providing these free tests.
Each person is limited to four free tests per month, and the scheme does not apply to citizens who have been vaccinated or have had Covid-19 and recovered, or who are aged under 12.
Meanwhile, Elidérico Viegas from the Algarve hotel association (AHETA) has criticised the requirement of demanding a negative rapid test from guests during their check-in at a hotel.
Said Viegas, the decision has contributed to “keep more holidaymakers away from the Algarve.”
The association boss believes the measure is “inadequate and has no sanitary logic” and that the government should already have scrapped it.
He added that the tests are carried out by people with “no technical knowledge to interpret the results”, which is “completely illogical” and raises questions about the measure’s worth.
“It is a confusion which the sector could frankly do without, and which is only keeping people away from who were thinking of coming on holiday to the Algarve,” Viegas said.