With empty tables, some Algarve businesses are being faced with another “bomb” since the entry into force of the new measure that forbids people without a digital certificate or without a negative self-test from being able to have dinner inside restaurants, in high and very high risk counties, during the weekend.
“Every time a new announcement comes out, people get scared and the business stops completely and then after a few days it comes back. But now this was really a bomb for the restaurants”, said Bella de Rose, owner of Ciao Baby Trattoria – Pizzeria in Alvor.
“The restaurant owners have put everything they have into their establishments, always hoping that this would get better, but it’s only getting worse. I think all restaurants were affected, but those who don’t have a terrace are totally lost, because many Portuguese don’t have a digital certificate, not because they don’t want it, but because it’s not available.
“They say that 70 percent of the population is vaccinated, but just one vaccine isn’t enough to get the certificate. Additionally, the system is not working 100 percent. I’ve met people who have already been fully vaccinated, but don’t have access to the certificate”, she said.
“I have a totally open terrace with a capacity for 14 people, but how does a company survive with 14 people?” As a result, they have already purchased 10 self-tests to offer to customers, but last weekend none requested them. “People aren’t used to getting Covid-19 self-tests for dinner,” she said.
André Filipe, wine shop and restaurant manager at Repolho Gastrobar, told The Portugal News, how in Lagos they dealt with the first weekend of restrictions.
“Last weekend, I felt a huge difference in the number of clients due to the simple fact that many customers are not willing to take the tests in front of the establishment because they feel embarrassed”, adding that customers always have to wait outside, until the result comes out”, he said.
So far, the self-test has not been widely adopted by customers who don’t have the certificate, who prefer to dine on the terrace, even if it is cold.
“Fifteen to 20 minutes waiting. It’s embarrassing for the customer, it’s a difficult situation”, highlighted the manager.
In addition, André Filipe also mentioned that not all fully vaccinated people have the European certificate, which is the case for many Americans.
“For instance, there are people, mainly foreigners, who already have full vaccinations, but do not have a digital certificate, for example, in the USA there is no digital certificate, they only have a physical document, so it’s difficult. Can we accept it,? Or can’t we? It’s hard to know!” he said.
To face this new challenge, Tribulum restaurant in Almancil has already taken some measures. “We have already trained three members of staff to administer our self-testing and certification checking process and this has been working well”.
Furthermore, they said that despite this difficult time, they do not plan to lay anyone off. “During the pandemic and in light of the limited support available from the government, we adopted a policy of continuing to employ and pay our staff. We value our team and recognise that they need help during this difficult time.”
“Obviously the new requirements are yet another disruption and hurdle for businesses like ours to overcome. We are frustrated of course but also, like everyone, understand that we need to do what we can to overcome this situation and return to normal as quickly as possible.”
At Praia do Carvalho, we can also find the owner of Ò Carcaça Street Food & Bar, Tiago Laginha, who since the age of 14 has been working in the sector. Hesays that in all his years in the industry he has never experienced anything like this.
Although, he does not have an indoor restaurant, this also affects his local business. “It ends up having an impact because when the announcement comes out they don’t make any distinction. On Sunday (July 11th), people flocked to the shopping centres, which doesn’t control the epidemic”, he said.
According to Tiago Laginha: “Along with the whole situation, people have already made up their minds that they cannot go to restaurants, so they go to the supermarket and end up having a picnic on the beach” and do not consume in a local business.
Despite not agreeing with this new measure, Tiago Laginha wants to set an example and, although it is not mandatory, he decided to share his own Covid-19 certificate with these clients.
“I believe that it is important for people to feel safe. For this reason, it doesn’t make any sense for customers to be required to present the digital certificate, but employees don’t have a certificate to show, nor do they need to take regular tests. This situation is not logical”, he regrets.
The presentation of a digital certificates or negative self-test for those who want to eat inside is mandatory on Fridays from 7:00pm, throughout the weekends and during bank holidays, in restaurants in high or very high risk municipalities.
This measure is in force since 10 July. For complete information about the rules, please read: https://www.theportugalnews.com/news/2021-07-12/the-new-covid-19-rules-explained/61027