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Santa Casa Misericórdia of Lisbon
Optimism and the spirit of survival are the dominant feelings in the concessionaires of the Cascais line beaches, which, against the clock, finalize the preparations for the opening of a bathing season full of challenges due to Covid-19.
It is at a frantic pace that several employees of the beach bar Fizz, located on the beach of Carcavelos, in the municipality of Cascais, move around the space to perform various cleaning and painting tasks.
A few meters ahead, a backhoe drills the beach, where piles are placed to build circulation corridors, one of the solutions found to allow physical distance between bathers.
With a watchful eye on what is going on, Vasco David, director of the “Fizz” bar and also of the Pastorinha restaurant, reports to the Lusa agency the procedures adopted to comply with the requirements determined by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).
“Here on the beach, we have the culms with the standard distances of three meters from flap to flap. We have our space already surrounded and all the signage that is requested, ”he says, stressing that the interior space has also undergone several changes in its functioning.
Despite being a “very atypical” bathing season, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Vasco David is optimistic about the business.
Our expectations are not bad. In other words, we expect difficulties, because this is new for everyone. However, expectations are good because people already need to get air, sun, and the beach has always been a great place for that ”, he stresses.
About a kilometer further, next to the Casa da Praia restaurant, still on the beach of Carcavelos, the last preparations for the reopening of the bathing season are also notorious.
Alexandre Martinez Marques, responsible for this concessionaire, tells Lusa that they are doing “everything possible” to finish the work on Friday.
“We hope to have our concession area ready for Saturday. Let's see if we can do it. We will have about half of the hats and sunbeds that we usually have ”, he says, pointing to the sand.
Like other dealers, the person responsible for “Casa da Praia” also wants to believe that the bathing season will be positive.
“This year everything is different and we are aware of that. But we are optimistic because the hard part was being out for two months. It was extremely penalizing. But, now we are open and full of desire to work ”, he shoots.
However, not everyone can hide their sadness at the situation that will be experienced this year, as is the case with Jean Paul, a Frenchman who has been managing the restaurant “La Plage” for five years.
“It is very complicated for us. I've been here for five years and I've never seen anything like it. The beach is so empty ”, he laments, in Portuguese mixed with French.
The readjustments to the measures imposed by the DGS on the beaches of the municipality of Carcavelos have been closely monitored by the representative of the municipality's concessionaires, Paula Vilafanha, who makes the most of giving tips and explanations to her associates.
“All dealers have made an enormous effort to be able to comply with the DGS indications. Most of the dealerships are small and medium-sized companies and we all realize that we are living a year from the business point of view, in which the priority will be to survive and keep business open ”, he says.
Despite the difficulties, the manager makes a positive assessment of the work being developed by the concessionaires.
“There is a great spirit of collaboration to overcome the challenge that this pandemic has presented to us all. It is a totally new scenario and there is no standards manual, ”he says.
On the neighboring Torre beach, already in the municipality of Oeiras, the scene is also filled with distress by the concessionaires, although the bathing season starts a few days later, on June 10th.
There are a series of procedures that we have to foresee, entrances, exits, circulation and the disinfection of stalks. Then we have schedules that cannot be for the whole day, but in two shifts. It is a race against time so that nothing fails ”, underlines the commercial director of the Beach Oeiras Club, Mafalda Pedretti.
Again at Carcavelos beach, two lifeguards travel the long stretch of sand on a motorbike 4, while carefully watching bathers who risk a swim.
João Pinheiro, one of the lifeguards, stresses to Lusa that, in addition to rescues on the beach or at sea, these professionals will have an important role in raising awareness of compliance with safety measures.
“As a rule, I think they have respected and kept their distance. We try to talk to people as much as possible to raise awareness, but we are no authority. This summer will be different from all, but I hope it will be as normal as possible ”, he said.
According to the Government's recommendations, during the bathing season beach users must ensure a physical distance of 1.5 meters between different groups and a distance of three meters between parasols, awnings or stems.
Restaurants, bars or terraces, on the other hand, should regularly clean the spaces (with a minimum of four daily cleanings), limit the capacity to 50% and reorganize the terraces to ensure safety distance.
The awnings and hats in charge of the dealers, can only be rented by each person or group in the morning (until 1:30 pm) or afternoon (after 2:00 pm) and all equipment such as seagulls, showers, sunbeds or ashtrays "must be cleaned daily or whenever the user changes ”.
Globally, according to a report by the AFP news agency, the Covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 385,000 deaths and infected more than 6.5 million people in 196 countries and territories. More than 2.8 million patients were considered cured.
In Portugal, 1,455 people out of 33,592 confirmed as infected died, and there are 20,323 recovered cases, according to the Directorate-General for Health.
Fábio Canceiro (text)