“There won’t be a police officer at every beach, but rules are clear and must be complied with,” said the environment minister during a visit to Porto de Mós in Lagos last Thursday to mark the start of the bathing season.
Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes assured that police patrols at beaches have been a reality and will continue into the summer, however, “Portugal is not a police state”.
“There won’t be a police officer at every beach nor do beachgoers want to see one at every beach. That is impossible,” he said.
Confirming the total national beach capacity at 850,000 people (click here), Matos Fernandes said the figure for the Algarve stands at 212,000 beachgoers at any one time.
While this is “a large number”, the minister called on people’s “civility” and warned that rules must be complied with.
The “Info Praia” app, launched by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) last year, “needs to be used and people need to learn to use it”, he said, as this will “help them choose a beach according to occupancy levels”.
“Info Praia” includes information about the capacity limit of each beach and real-time occupancy monitoring so “people can avoid crowded beaches”, said Matos Fernandes.
If beaches are found to be over the capacity limit, the minister warned that these could be “closed, as happened last year … twice”.
“Surely, no one wants to see their favourite beach off limits,” he said, adding that full compliance with the rules in place is the only way to prevent this from happening.
The minister, who admitted to having a “soft spot” for Meia Praia, a beach he visits regularly, said the Lagos borough was ideal to test the beach occupancy traffic-light-type system – using green, yellow and red flags – “as here we have all types of beaches”.
João Pedro Matos Fernandes was adamant that the only way that people will be able to enjoy the beach this summer was to “abide by the rules”. And these, he said, “are clear and very easy to follow. They are the same as last year so everyone is familiar with them” (click here).
• People must wear a mask when entering the beach, walking on boardwalks, and accessing beach restaurants or public toilets.
• Beachgoers belonging to different groups will be required to keep a 1.5-metre distance from each other, and a three-metre distance between beach umbrellas/sunbeds.
• Sports activities involving two or more people are not allowed except water sports such as surfing.
• Beach concessions must clean and sanitise their spaces and equipment regularly.
• Beach concession staff (including people manning sun-loungers) as well as salespeople carrying soft drinks, doughnuts across the sands will also have to wear masks at all times.
Fines for non-compliance range from €50 to €100 for individuals, and €500 and €1,000 for companies.
For a list of Algarve beaches and their capacity limits (click here).