Bikers during the 2019 parade, the last meet before the pandemic hit. FILIPE FARINHA/LUSA

PM throws spanner in works of Faro bikers’ fest

“There cannot be exceptions” to decreed prohibitions over potential fire risks

PM António Costa appeared to be suggesting yesterday that events like the Super Bock Super Rock festival, and the Faro bikers’ concentration, could not go ahead as they constituted fire risks.

“There can be no exceptions” to rules in place under the Situation of Contingency , he told reporters.

But organisers have said it is far too late to ‘cancel’ the fixtures which are vital to their immediate local economies.

The Faro bikers’ meet, starting officially on Thursday, already represents an investment by the city’s ‘Moto Clube’ of around €2 million. Participants have started arriving . There is no way the event can be changed at this stage of play, say all involved.

According to TSF Rádio in the early hours of this morning, the feeling coming from organisers is that ‘if the event is stopped, it will signal the end of Faro’s iconic Bikers’ ‘concentrations’, which have been running for 40 years.

Faro mayor Rogério Bacalhau has written to the prime minister putting all these points, and insisting that the municipality will take full responsibility for ensuring the event runs smoothly and in all safety.

He pointed out that of the 34 hectares taken up in Vale das Almas, only 14 are in ‘forested areas’.

“I hope this meet goes ahead, because right now we have more than 2,000 bikers already installed in the area; planes are arriving with people from all over the world who come to see this festival (…) With the government’s dispatch, it is prohibited to use 14 of the 34 hectares involved. I don’t see how we can halt this process which is already underway”, he said. “The Moto Clube has been preparing the area for the last month, and people are arriving…”

António Pina, president of AMAL (the association of Algarve municipalities), has also appealed to the government to leave this matter to the responsibility of local authorities. In his mindset, this would show the government ‘is serious’ about ‘regionalisation’ (the long-term plan to give region’s their own powers of decision-making).

A very similar response to the prime minister came from organisers of the Super Bock Super Rock festival, also due to begin on Thursday, in Herdade da Cabeça da Flauta, a campsite near Meco beach in Sesimbra.

Organiser Luís Montez has told Lusa: “We are taking mitigation measures demanded by Sesimbra Civil Protection. Everything is articulated with Civil Protection, local firefighters and private security. There will be a reinforcement of security and firefighters to watch the camp site, as well as two ‘rapid intervention’ vehicles on stand-by”.

The reality is that these two events – and many others planned this summer – are vital for the recovery of their sectors, and for local tourism. To cancel them at short notice over a risk would have devastating consequences.

As of time of writing, there is still no definitive answer as to whether the two events will be allowed to go forwards or not. Updates to come.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com