Letter from Cascais

Following the relaxation of the Covid-19 lockdown rules during the last few weeks, we continue to enjoy visiting restaurants and shops which are now allowed to open, without too many restrictions, as long as hygiene rules are being observed and masks worn.

The warmer weather, with temperatures rising above 20° C, is a bonus.

Interestingly, friends in Germany and Austria tell us that restaurant and retail shop customers there are required to show vaccination certificates or negative virus tests and register personal data to facilitate tracking of infections.

Can we maintain our comparatively liberal rules during the summer months to come?

Portugal has made good progress in containing the virus, not least due to an effective vaccination programme.

Unfortunately, there has been a rise in infections recently, especially in the greater Lisbon area. It appears that irresponsible behaviour, primarily among young people, family gatherings and, not least, enthusiastically celebrating football fans are to blame for this development.

Obviously, large crowd gatherings pose a risk of spreading the virus.

Which brings us back to football and, specifically, the European Champions League Final in Porto between two English teams on Saturday, May 29.

What were the powers-that-be thinking when they decided to allow thousands of English soccer fans to “invade” Portugal and, eventually, to descend on the city of Porto?

Although spectators are still being barred from attending Portuguese football matches, 15,000 English fans were permitted into the Porto stadium! Many more arrived in the city without holding tickets.

With few exceptions, the visitors showed blatant disregard for local rules designed to contain the pandemic. They congregated in large crowds, without social distancing, mostly without using masks.

Continuous alcohol consumption, mainly in public spaces, was common and seemed to be a prime activity.

There were numerous fights between fans of opposing teams as well as aggressive confrontations with the police.

Portuguese public health officials are concerned about the potential consequences of this event, especially since a new fast-spreading strain of the virus has been detected in Britain.

On another, historical, note, it is worth remembering that 76 years ago, on May 8, 1945, the Second World War ended in Europe, with the capitulation of Nazi Germany, whose murderous reign of terror and aggression was finally over. However, tremendous hardships and challenges continued all over Europe.

Eventually, the “Cold War” followed, and Europe became divided for many years by an “Iron Curtain” (in Churchill’s words). Other parts of the world saw new wars, in the European colonies, Korea, Vietnam etc.
The most recent eruption of violence in the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict proves that “world peace” remains a dream.

Whatever the problems and weaknesses of the European Union, we are fortunate in being able to enjoy peace between its member countries and with the rest of the world!

Coming back to Cascais, the past weekend saw many people out in the open enjoying the warm weather.

English, French, Spanish and other foreign voices were being heard – tourists are beginning to return.

Saúde, good health, santé, salud, Gesundheit to everyone!

Jurgen H. Racherbaumer