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New restaurant rules spark “wave of cancellations” in Algarve

The controversial new rules for Portugal’s restaurant sector – which force clients to present Covid Digital Certificates or negative Covid tests in ‘high risk’ and ‘very high risk’ boroughs in order to eat inside a restaurant – led to a “wave of cancellations” last weekend in the Algarve.

The measure has been particularly devastating for restaurants with no outdoor terraces, the only area where diners are allowed to eat without having to present a Covid certificate or negative test.

Vítor Lourenço, owner of O Chalavar in Faro, said he had so few customers last weekend that he is not planning to open this weekend.

“Yesterday we were empty for dinner, today (Saturday) we were empty for lunch and now we are empty for dinner,” the restaurant owner told SIC.

“No one will want to undergo a test to have a meal at a restaurant,” he added, urging the government to review the latest rules.

Even restaurants with outdoor seating have been affected as the news of the latest restrictions has led foreign visitors, particularly from Spain, to cancel their trips, SIC reports.

“We had a group reservation but then received an email saying that, due to the restrictions in Portugal, they wouldn’t come,” said Jorge Brandão from Faro’s Tertúlia Algarvia restaurant.

Portugal’s ever-changing rules for the restaurant sector have created a feeling of uncertainty among restaurant owners, who every Thursday anxiously await what new restrictions will be implemented.

“This has been a rollercoaster. Every Thursday there is a feeling of anxiety as we try to understand what will happen and what we will be allowed to do,” he said.

The president of the PRO.VAR national association of restaurants has said the measure, “which should have increased feelings of safety (among diners), has in reality transformed into a nightmare, and created more difficulties” (click here).

Meanwhile, Albufeira Mayor has publicly thrown his support behind local businesses and citizens who took part in a protest last Saturday against the government’s Covid combat measures.

Protestors were also promoting a petition entitled ‘S.Ó.S. Albufeira’ which demands the “protection of jobs, social support and grants” for local businesses and families affected by the pandemic.

“A large number of workers and their families who depend on their businesses to survive are currently facing huge challenges,” said Albufeira Mayor José Carlos Rolo.

“The government must take note of the real situation and, as promised, provide support to struggling companies and families,” he added.

According to Carlos Rolo, the council has been doing its part by holding meetings with local and regional associations and warning the government about vital issues such as the need to “correct the formula used to calculate” positive Covid-19 cases and the need to save local businesses from closure and bankruptcy.