Beach ban imposed as PM discusses closing frontiers with Spain

From this morning, anyone surfing on any beach in the country will be breaking the law. Anyone paragliding off a cliff, onto a beach, will be breaking the law.

A ban on sporting activities on the nation’s beaches came into effect yesterday in the form of various edicts issued by ports authorities up and down the country.

Although reported in the press as “the beaches are off-limits”, the edicts are very explicit. They refer to ‘group activities’ – situations bringing lots of people together in close contact in which Covid-19 could, theoretically, be passed from one to the other.

Up till now, the simple walking of dogs by single, or joint owners who keep a good distance from each other, appears to be well within the law and not something liable to any form of censure.

Nonetheless, ‘the landscape is changing by the minute’. Today (Sunday), prime minister António Costa is said to be debating the ‘sanitary control’ of frontiers with Spain, with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, ahead of decisions due to come into force tomorrow. And interior minister Eduardo Cabrita has confirmed that Spanish tourists are no longer allowed over the border into Portugal.

This is completely due to Spains’s outbreak of the new coronavirus which has already infected over 6300 people  (leading to the deaths, at last count, of 292, up 96 from yesterday’s total).

Municipalities bordering Spain are pressuring Mr Costa to shut the borders now. “We cannot delay any further” is the message.

International flights however are still arriving, from countries still operating routes.

The archipelagos of Madeira and Azores, nonetheless, are in virtual lockdown, with anyone arriving into either obliged to serve a 14-day quarantine.

Meantime, the effects of this crisis on businesses everywhere – particularly those connected with tourism – are already devastating. Thousands of jobs and livelihoods have been put on the line.

Restaurateurs are at their wits ends as regular clients ‘disappear’ for fear of contracting the virus by dint of leaving their homes.

Social media too has been fanning the flames of rising panic with posts that cannot be verified attesting to the equivalent of ‘the end of days’.

The truth is that SNS health services are stretched to the limit, hence every council’s list of ‘contingency measures’ to ensure populations stay as much as possible in a form of controlled isolation.

New measures are expected to be introduced by the government over the course of the coming week. Today, for example, driving lessons (practical and theory), the consumption of alcohol in public open spaces (except licensed esplanades) and gatherings of more than 100 people were all added to the list of things citizens can no longer do without risking penalties.

For now, anyone keen to discover what their particular municipality is announcing should check on the relevant council website.

As to the spread of the virus on national territory, the number of infected have risen by 45% on yesterday’s tally (to 245), seeing new cases in every region, including the Algarve which has now registered 10 people positive with the virus.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com