Giving hugs, kisses, no social distancing, all as if everything were normal, with no care for the pandemic. At the beginning of this week the behaviour of the young Dutch tourists led the GNR to issue dozens of fines outside bars on a popular Albufeira street, with approximately 2,400 recent Dutch high school graduates crowding in one place. Similar sights have been witnessed at beaches throughout this week.
This Wednesday, in the late afternoon, the Dutch youth began to arrive at Praia da Oura, in Albufeira. They come in groups and very few wear masks around each other, despite being from different households. On the beach, they greet the new friends they meet, with no special care in relation to Covid-19.
They are part of the approximately 2000 young Dutch people who are on vacation in the Algarve city this week, and caused gatherings on Sunday and Monday nights on Avenida Sá Carneiro (the infamous bar street in Oura), forcing the intervention of the GNR. As in the evening, also during the day, on the beach, few comply with safety measures. “How they arrive is how they stay, in groups, without a mask, give hugs, kisses, as if everything were normal”, describes a lifeguard from Praia da Oura. "Maybe they don't have the same rules in their country," he says.
Interview by the Expresso newspaper about the behaviour of these tourists, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs limited itself to saying that it “reinforces”, to those traveling to Portugal, the need for “compliance with local safety rules”, in particular “the importance of keep two meters of social distance and the obligatory use of a mask in many places, such as shops, restaurants and public transport”.
But these are rules that almost all Dutch people, mostly in Albufeira on high school graduation trips, have not followed since they arrived in the Algarve, with social networks becoming full of images of hundreds of young people outside bars consuming alcohol , acquired in establishments operating with music and dubious snack-bar licenses.
On Sunday and Monday nights, the GNR raised “dozens of administrative offenses” to young people for disregarding the safety rules related to the pandemic, as well as to the owners of the establishments, “who operated outside legally authorized hours”, said an official source of the GNR, without revealing an exact number. The same source guaranteed that, "yesterday evening [Tuesday], things have been calmer", after an "adjustment of means to needs" - which went through a presence with greater visibility of police personnel in the area.
The authorities say they are confident that this type of situation will not be repeated over the summer. However, this can be difficult when attracting customers is done on the beach by the bars themselves. Like other years, during the day, on the beach bracelets are distributed to young people, promising discounts on the purchase of drinks at night. And also at that time, they are informed of where the ‘parties’ are going to happen. As bars continue to be prohibited from resuming activity, some establishments have started to provide food, allowing them to keep their doors open at night. “We cannot refuse or discriminate against tourists, not least because they are important for the economy, but safety rules must be observed”, says José Carlos Rolo, Mayor of Albufeira.
Albufeira Council met this Wednesday with the owners of a number of local establishments "to raise awareness of the importance of the rules" and promises to put a van on the streets, blasting information on virus safety measures through speakers, in which the measures in force in Portugal will be indicated.
A few hundred more young tourists are expected to arrive in Albufeira next week, also from the Netherlands.