Restaurateurs are calling for an end to the rule for clients to present vaccine certificates or negative tests in order to be able to eat inside at weekends and Bank Holidays.
Their reasons are that a) the country has moved out of a State of Calamity and restrictions on the number of clients per table have been eased; b) that many people wanting to eat inside these days have been vaccinated but haven’t yet got their digital certificates organised and c) that the rules are having a negative effect on businesses that have already been hammered by the constraints of the pandemic.
According to Elidérico Viegas, president of AHETA (the Algarve hoteliers’ association), the requirement for people to show proof of vaccination or negative tests is “disproportionate” and “putting tourists off visiting the region” – particularly as every one of them will have had to produce proof of negativity for the virus by dint of travelling here.
Another factor, less vocalised, is the reality widely accepted now that fully-vaccinated people can still become infected and transmit SARS-CoV-2 (click here).
Talking to reporters this week, João Guerreiro – president of the association of businesspeople in Quarteira and Vilamoura – said “these restrictions continue to complicate the life of business people because there are many people who in spite of being vaccinated do not have Covid Digital Certificates…”
In the case of elderly people, the fact that many may not have ‘smartphones’ immediately puts them at a disadvantage, as the certificates require smartphones.
It’s not simply businesses in the Algarve that are pushing the government to ditch the restaurant test/ vaccine certificate policy. The lament is similar throughout the country. Said Abel Barroso, a restaurateur in Boticas, in the north: “The new measures (under Portugal’s State of Contingency) do not go far enough to make up for the successive damages that lockdowns have caused”.
For now, there has been no response from authorities which are showing little inclination to change policies. Under secretary of state for health António Lacerda Sales, for example, has said that there will be ‘the minimum of adaptations’ to the way schools operate in the coming academic year, despite the fact that almost all teaching and non-teaching staff will now have been vaccinated, and large swathes of the teenage population have also responded to the call to take-up the Covid jabs.