Another half million go back to work today, but no joy for gyms, bars and discos

Another half million people will be back at their places of work today as many restaurants, cafés, creches and schools reopen their doors.

Driving schools too have been given the green-light (though there are fears some simply won’t be able to survive) – and campsites are due to reopen within the next few days.

But the future for gyms, bars and discos remains under a cloud. PM António Costa told TSF radio this morning, that they may not be able to open at all this summer.

The sudden onset of stunning weather brought people out in force over the weekend, with beaches a major attraction. There seemed to be a new ‘positivity in the air’ – albeit very tentative.

To help businesses cope with the sanitary demands of reopening, the government’s ADAPTAR programme is promising payments of up to €5000 per company, to cover the purchase of disinfecting materials, masks, signs, acrylic screens etc.

Expenses are eligible as far back as March 18 (the point where the first State of Emergency was declared) – and money should be forthcoming within 10 days of requesting it.

There are other ‘support’ structures in place, which can go to €40,000, say reports, but in the cases of these, only 50% of the finance is non-repayable.

For further information on lines of support remaining open for businesses, click here.

Unfortunately, with all the exhortations to people to return to their ‘everyday’, there are still many businesses, particularly restaurants, balking at biting the bullet – largely because they don’t think there will be the necessary clients to make it worthwhile.

Shops too have the same fears, explain reports. It’s all boiling down to the lack of tourists which are seen as so crucial to the economy.

Bookings for the early part of the summer have essentially all been cancelled. Holiday rentals firms are desperately trying to work out how to promote themselves suddenly to the ‘internal market’ on which everyone is pinning their hopes.

According to one recent study, this perspective is valid: 90% of all Portuguese questioned say they have no intention of travelling abroad this summer.

The flip side of this coin, of course, is that the Portuguese market has never been viewed as one with much in the way of ‘spending power’.

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