On Sunday, 1 May, the bathing season starts on some beaches, with the guarantee that the beaches have lifeguards, after two years in which the opening was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After last year the bathing season officially opened only in mid-June on most Portuguese beaches, subject to rules for the prevention, containment and mitigation of the transmission of covid-19, this year the ordinance that defines the standards has not yet been published.

“As a National Maritime Authority we know that some places in Portugal on May 1 will be able to open the bathing season,” said the spokesman for the National Maritime Authority, Silva Luís, in statements to Lusa.

According to the official, some municipalities “decided to open and can do so as long as they comply with a set of basic rules, such as lifeguards and authorisation from the captaincy”.

Distancing rules

The president of the Portuguese Federation of Beach Concessionaires, João Carreira, added that, “for now” he has not yet had access to the beach notices that result from the ordinance of the Portuguese Environment Association that governs the rules of the bathing season, but guaranteed that “from the outset they will comply with the same rules of distancing on the sand”.

Among the rules established last year (and the failure to comply with was subject to fines) was the social distance between people and groups, with shades needing three metres between them.

Mask use

Regarding the use of masks, which were necessary in 2021 in accessing the beach and in the use of supports, restaurants or sanitary facilities, João Carreira explained that in the access and use of bars, the “mandatory mask use has already been dropped” according to the latest recommendations of the Directorate-General for Health.

“We already have lifeguards and we are already prepared to assist them, we are just waiting for the notices to be published, but there are beaches in the country that start the bathing season on May 1st, with about 15 in Costa da Caparica, in Cascais and some in the Algarve”.

Extra lifeguards

According to João Carreira, lifeguards are already hired to provide safety to beach users, in addition to being an obligation of the concessions to be able to operate.

The official explained that “some lifeguards from Brazil” were hired in advance, since most of the national lifeguards are students and that “only after finishing school and exams” can they work permanently to the beaches.