What can we do? Where can we go? Portugal eases back to normal “but people are confused”

In response to a number of queries sent into our offices over the last couple of weeks, the Resident has set out to try and clarify the picture of Portugal’s ‘new normal’.

Masks for instance are required in all enclosed public spaces. But should people wear them when driving? When driving alone? The answer is there is absolutely no need to, but if they feel comfortable wearing a mask as they drive themselves somewhere, no one will be stopping them.

Other questions have been:

How many people as a group can visit a restaurant?

The answer right now is ‘as many as can comfortably fit, bearing in mind the 50% limitation on capacity.

Large groups will require wider spacing out, and ideally be better placed on esplanades. Those wanting to eat inside will indeed have to wear masks to go into the establishment, but clearly they will have to take them off to eat and drink. From June 1, the limit on capacity should be removed, so restaurants will be able to accept their full quota of clients.

Do I need to wear a mask in a restaurant or café? Short answer, take one with you – wear it on entering, take it off for eating and drinking.

Do I need to wear a mask when arriving at an outdoor terrace space of a café or restaurant? Not usually, but always have one with you so you can comply with regulations if required.

When will all remaining shops open, such as shopping centres? June 1

When will leisure facilities such as water parks and Zoomarine open? That’s a very difficult question as these facilities rely on large numbers of people to make business viable. The short answer is call ahead and find out, or check online. Zoomarine for example is not opening before June 1, but this may change nearer the time. Check on the waterpark’s official site: www.zoomarine.pt. For now, the phones send callers directly to an answering service and the message is that a June 1 reopening will be confirmed closer to the time.

Slide and Splash is very much the same. Its website, for instance, says clearly: “The park is closed until further notice, thank you for your understanding”.

The thing about this pandemic is that ‘new normal’ has no bearing on ‘business as usual’, but that doesn’t imply that anyone should be fearful or remain in lockdown. It has been established that risks in the open air are minimal, thus people are encouraged to go out and about and pick up their daily routines as much as they feel able.

The virus does not appear to be gaining any kind of’ strength as the hot weather progresses in Portugal. Cases in the Algarve and Alentejo are remaining fairly static. The picture is ‘positive’ as long as people adhere to all the health authority advice and retain sensible physical distancing.

Elderly people should not be ‘overly worried’ unless they are seriously health-compromised, in which case they should try and remain as ‘isolated’ as they sensibly can.

As to ‘cures’/ vaccines etc., this is for the wider press, but nothing is expected any day soon- hence the reason for all the caution.