Correspondent in Lisbon
“Finally!” Is the exclamation that circulated from word of mouth (or from social network to social network) among the Portuguese when verifying that the second phase of the lack of refinement translates into a true explosion of open terraces.
Throughout the winter, the ‘esplanades’ (as they say in the neighboring country) have remained closed tight. It is true that it coincided with the coldest period, but it was one of the measures that contributed to making the main cities authentic ghost cities.
It was enough to go out to the streets in Lisbon, Porto, Braga or Faro to see it, to feel the discouragement of extreme melancholy on those slopes where there was not a soul and only the meow of some wayward cat broke the silence.
Now it is not that the bustle is suddenly multiplied, but taking a walk through the capital breathes life again in the middle of the pandemic, after two very hard months in Portugal.
The tables, of course, have a numerical limitation that is reduced to four people and, obviously, the schedules are not at all out of control, since Monday to Friday it must close at 10:30 p.m.
But the controversial detail lurks when the rules that must govern on weekends are reviewed, since the terraces are only allowed to open until 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Many Portuguese have gasped with the decision announced by the Socialist Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Does it make sense to deploy all the appropriate paraphernalia to attract people to breakfast and immediately rush customers because the moment of closing is upon us? Opinions are festering and the Portuguese are not exactly legion who understand and willingly accept the new purpose.
But that’s the way it is, and the arrival of time will only increase the frustration of citizens, eager to find escape valves after a few winter months at the mercy of the wind and rain as few alternatives to confinement at home.
Neither hoteliers nor visitors (the vast majority of them locals) see the positive in such determination, so that five minutes before 1:00 p.m. there is no choice but to line up for the respective homes.
Seriously, we don’t understand anything. Throughout the winter there have been bars and even supermarkets at that time on weekends … and the situation only got worse »says a visibly angry waiter on television.
His words are paradigmatic of what has spread in a few hours: a skepticism that has shaken hands with discontent to make Antonio Costa go through one of his lowest moments of popularity.
Second and third cycle schools have also reopened, as well as gyms and hair salons, services that many people consider essential.
Museums and galleries open
Another of the most obvious measures that something is moving and may begin to change is that, for the first time in all these months, art lovers can visit museums and galleries to see exhibitions such as those presented by the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, which claims the figure of René Lalique and his glass creations, or the Serralves Museum in Oporto, where a retrospective of Louise Bourgeois is exhibited. The Cascais Cultural Center also has a magnificent exhibition dedicated to the legendary photographer Vivian Maier.
It so happens that Portugal, which was once a member of the UK’s ‘black list’, continues to bet on the cancellation of flights to and from the United Kingdom. In fact, that is the reason why the Porto-Chelsea and Chelsea-Porto matches, corresponding to the Champions League Quarterfinals, will be played in Seville.
Of course, the mask is mandatory, but it is becoming easier to see people who do not wear it, because satiety increases as the pandemic time passes.
Where there are no relaxation measures is in the prohibition of drinking alcohol in the middle of the street, since the sale was completely ruled out after 8:00 p.m., except in restaurants and places that dispatch food.
In addition, companies in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto must alternate face-to-face tasks with teleworking, so that employees are not constantly exposed to the virus. With more tendency to work at home, as far as possible. Shifts must also be staggered, so that neither all entries nor all exits occur at the same time.
The sporting events, whatever their gender, will continue to be held behind closed doors, as evidenced by the final of the Portuguese Cup, scheduled for next May 23 between Benfica and Sporting Braga.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism