Beaches without lifeguards to be ‘prohibited’ this summer, says tabloid

Access to beaches without lifeguards will be prohibited this summer, limiting beachgoers’ choices massively. At the same time, access to beaches with lifeguards – the so-called ‘supervised beaches’ – will be controlled from the various carparks that serve them.

These apparent measures to ensure ‘correct social distancing’ as the country emerges from its Covid-19 lockdown were trailed yesterday by tabloid Jornal das Notícias.

Says the paper ‘a manual of good (beach) practices” is being prepared, following a meeting of various entities “with jurisdiction over maritime space”. These include the ISN (institute that governs lifeguards and sea rescues in general), DGS health authorities, the association of Portuguese municipalities, the national health institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge and SEPNA, the environmental arm of the GNR police.

Plans are to launch the country’s ‘bathing season’ on June 1 (a month later than usual).

Proposals on how to operate involve the imposition of a 2-metre distance between beachgoers’ towels, and the use of face masks being made obligatory for anyone using beachside facilities – whether they be toilets or beach bars.

Said JN, it’s still unclear from yesterday’s meeting whether beach bars will be able to operate as normal, or whether they will only be available for ‘take aways’.

Urban beaches – where access can be achieved for the whole length of the beach – “may be off-limits to everyone if there is no way of controlling access”, the paper continues.

Soft drinks and ‘bolo de berlim’ sales – traditionally made by men carrying large hampers across the sands – may also be banned this year.

Said Catarina Gonçalves, national coordinator of the entity that awards beaches ‘Blue Flags’: “We are working hard to make beachgoers aware (of what they can and cannot do this year). This is a priority”.

Ms Gonçalves did add however that all the new ‘coronavirus led’ measures under discussion would be “dependent on the capacity of police to check people, whether beachgoers, or lifeguards”.

This was a fairly key statement bearing in mind sources for maritime police have “guaranteed” the force doesn’t in fact have enough agents to enforce restrictions under consideration.

In a separate story over the weekend, JN cited ASPPM (the maritime police socio-professional association) explaining it has only 300 agents to ‘police’ the entire Portuguese coastline.

In other words, “there isn’t the manpower”, says JN to ‘control’ all the country’s beaches effectively.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com