It was busier than expected for the first day of the 2nd phase of easing of lockdown. In Carvoeiro in the Algarve, the sun was shining, inviting a visit to the square with a promise of a drink sitting on the terrace, over-looking the sea or the street for a spot of people watching.
It was like that for many, especially couples, who left their homes after following lockdown rules for months and were gradually getting back to their routines.
One of the couples who were enjoying the easing of lockdown rules was Nikky and Roy West. They were feeling very happy with the opportunity to do something outside. Nikky said: “We need interactions with wother human beings and just being home - you and your husband - is tough”, she said smiling while Roy also laughed adding: “it is boring, doing the same every day”.
When I asked if they feel safe being on a terrace drinking their beer they answered yes, they feel safe to come out - but admitted that the recent Covid numbers are worrying. “I thought that everything was safe, but then the last couple of weeks Portimão and Lagoa numbers have been rising, it’s quite scary”, said Nikky.
Kevin and Hilary Taylor, a retired couple living permanently in Vale d’el Rei for four years, also feel safe and happy that they are finally having a meal outside their home. “We have cooked at home for the last 11 weeks, so for the next 11 weeks we’re not going to be cooking at home! Everything we eat will be at a restaurant or a bar”, they said.
With this attitude, they are also supporting local economy that has been struggling due to lockdown. “We love it here, and we want all the restaurants and bars to survive so we feel strongly that we should support them all”, they told The Portugal News.
However, they did state that they hope that Portugal “Doesn’t mess up”. “When they open up the borders, they should be careful who they let in. So far, we think that the government has done the right things, but now is the time to be careful, otherwise it would have all been a waste of time”, said the couple who were waiting for their meal to arrive.
As we go further down the street, we find the restaurant and bar Hemingways. Inside, owners Sandro and Teresinha, tell The Portugal News about their relief and hope: “I am relieved to finally be able to open up, hopeful we will be able to work to at least pay the bills. We are wary though, because nobody wants to take steps back, but it is also necessary to start working”.
Sandro and his mother Teresinha confess that they have been missing the contact with their customers, some who have already become firm friends. “I have kept in touch with them during lockdown, they are regular customers, people I have as friends. Sometimes I send messages, asking how they are and there are people who sometimes say I’m looking forward to going for a beer, looking forward to living and finally being able to get some sun, because that routine of being at home ... it’s good for some days, but two months is too long”, said Sandro.
Also, Lena, owner of Pastelaria Lé Doce, born and raised in Carvoeiro, is hopeful that things will get better and she takes a positive attitude in the face of adversity. “I appreciate it if clients come, we are waiting for them”, she said, adding that she is also aware how important it is to respect the rules in place. During the lockdown Lena had been selling take-aways from the door but now she is finally able to open up the terrace too.
The easing of lockdown plan, which has been in force since 15 March, saw the second phase coming into place on Monday, 5 April. This phase has included the opening terraces, 2 and 3 cycles in schools and gyms, with the exception of group classes, among some of the activities that can now take place. Business owners are hopeful with these new rules while customers are happy to be able to contribute to the local economy while enjoying their time on terraces across the country.
Locals enjoying first drink post lockdown
Locals enjoying first drink post lockdown
Sandro e Teresinha, owners of restaurant and bar Hemingways, are relieved to be open again and happy to see their regular customers. “Communicating with people ...” is very important to them. “Our customers have been regulars for many years. There hasn’t been a face today that I haven’t known because all of the customers are people from here in Carvoeiro,” said Sandro
Simon and Nicole are on an extended stay. Simon is a digital nomad, who works remotely all over the world and has since December chosen Carvoeiro to live and work. “I feel like dancing, I feel very happy. It was so sad with everything closed. Now everything is back alive again and it’s good. It’s how life really should be, meeting people, saying hello and being happy. I feel excited today. We have really respected all of the rules, now is the time to be free”.
Robert Colin and Loraine recently moved to the Algarve from the USA and have been here since October. “It took us a while to get here, due to Covid-19 we couldn’t get flights”, they said. Now they are here, they can finally be outside and enjoy the freedom Portugal gives them: “We can see people, cars, and people walking up and down. Being outside, socialising. During the lockdown there have been zero social activities, now restaurants are open, golf is open - tomorrow golf”.
Nikky and Roy West, have been living in Sesmarias, in the Algarve for three years. “We feel relief with the reopening. I think that lockdown in 2020 was hard, but this one has been a lot harder”, said the couple that before lockdown usually visited Harrys bar in Carvoeiro two or three times a week and are happy to see friends again (even if they are a table away). “We need interactions with other human beings”, they said.
Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252