Most Albufeira restaurants to close this weekend: “People are not going to have lunch in a hurry”

Most restaurants in Albufeira are planning to close this weekend after the borough was forced to backtrack on its plan to emerge from lockdown. Restaurants and non-essential stores will be forced to close at 3.30pm during the weekend, a limitation that makes it hard to “justify” even opening at all.

“During the weekend, most establishments will be closed because it’s not worth it. Most people go to the beach, leave after 1pm and won’t be having lunch in a hurry. It just isn’t viable,” Sérgio Brito from Albufeira’s Commercial Association (ACA) told Lusa news agency.

Carlos Mealha, owner of several restaurants and night-time establishments in Albufeira, said he won’t be opening his businesses this weekend as it would “only add” to his losses.

“For us, it is not worth it. It’s a decision we made (yesterday) as soon as we heard the news. It makes no sense to implement such a heavy restriction in terms of timetables,” he told Lusa.

As the association boss points out, Albufeira is a borough that relies almost exclusively on the tourism sector. As travel has been so severely restricted, it has been unable to get back on its feet since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, which is causing companies to go bankrupt or dismiss their workers.

“It’s a tragedy on an economic and social level,” Brito said, stressing how the borough’s unemployment numbers have skyrocketed from around 500 before the pandemic to 7,000.

Making matters even worse is the rising Covid numbers, which have led to stricter measures being applied in Albufeira.

“Most restaurants resumed business only recently, around a month ago, and hired people, purchased supplies and made investments. Now we are faced with this incomprehensible situation,” he said.

The dire situation is causing people “great sadness” because business owners are becoming unable to continue paying their employees or meeting their obligations, said the association boss. He added that many are keeping afloat thanks to “bank loans”.