Gyms, cinemas and theatres are due to reopen on Monday (June 1) as Portugal approaches its 3rd stage of deconfinement.
All will be adhering to strict measures of hygiene and physical distancing.
In the case of gyms, measures will involve reducing the use of machines by 50%, allowing people only one hour per day to train, dividing up spaces to ensure 4 sq m per person and keeping showers ‘off-limits’.
In other words, the whole gym experience that people have come to enjoy has had to radically change and will remain this way until further notice.
How this will affect the many thousands of businesses up and down the country remains to be seen.
José Carlos Reis of AGAP, Portugal association of gymnasiums, says it is one of the sectors that has been most heavily penalised.
“Around 60 to 70% are small businesses, even microbusinesses, that don’t have any kind of back-up to get them through a situation like this: two months of inactivity. It is very tough, and it’s a sector on which so many people rely. There are 17,000 direct jobs, another 15-20,000 indirect jobs in which the majority of people are ‘service suppliers’ who work on green receipts. Without ‘activity’, they’ve had no income – and the (government) support has been very scarce”, he explains.
For cinemas – beyond the typical hand sanitising requirements – there is to be a seat’s distance between spectators (unless they come from the same household), with the wearing of masks mandatory.
Theatres will be able to operate in a similar way – if they decide to reopen at all (June/ July and August being traditionally low months for theatres in Portugal).
Airports too are expected to become much busier from June 1, with more and more airlines picking up schedules.
But the 3rd phase of ‘returning to business’ still has no answers for bars and discotheques, while open air events/ concerts/ festivals have all been told to expect no joy before the end of September.
Updates on this new ‘phase’ are expected as we approach the weekend.