The president has recently been very visible in the Algarve, visiting local councils, attending meetings and also enjoying holiday time across the region and had been being interviewed by reporters before the incident took place.

According to reports, the 71 year old swam to aid the two women after they had been swept by currents from a neighbouring bay.

Video of the rescue filmed by SIC showed the president swimming out to where another man was already trying to aid the women before a lifeguard on a jet ski then came to help tow the kayak back to shore and safety.

Once back on dry land the president told reporters: “The young women came from another beach and were dragged by strong currents.

They had swallowed a lot of water and were unable to turn or climb into the kayak due to the strength of the current. Fortunately there was help on hand from another “patriot” and we both managed to help the young women”.
The dramatic rescue was picked up by media across the world, including on the BBC and Evening Standard in the UK, TV9 in the USA and RTE in Ireland.
The president has already been receiving high praise for his efforts to promote the Algarve and be accessible to those in the region during a time when tourism has been adversely affected by Covid-19.

Earlier in the week the president had told reporters that he believes that tourism levels in the Algarve are improving, with occupancy levels up to 70 percent in some hotels and reiterated his questioning of the British government regarding the continuation of quarantine conditions for travellers returning from Portugal to the UK.
“Considering the current situation, which has improved even more than a week or two or three ago, nobody understands why the British air corridor has not been opened. I mean, if it doesn’t open now, when will it open?” questioned Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, speaking to journalists at the beach in Alvor, where he was begining a six day holiday and before the sea rescue.

The head of state said that it is not possible to be “waiting for zero cases”, because “no country will have zero cases” and what “we are seeing in Europe is an opposite evolution” to what we are experiencing “at this moment of stabilisation in Portugal”.

For Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the epidemiological situation in Portugal should allow the opening of the air corridor between the United Kingdom and Portugal, exempting travellers arriving in British territory from a 14 day quarantine period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The essential question is the preparation of the National Health Service (SNS), which until now has been able to respond to the needs of the people during the pandemic. For this reason, I look more at the number of hospitalised and intensive care patients than at those infected, especially asymptomatic ones”, he added.

The President of the Republic said that “no one can stop” the appearance of “occasional outbreaks, such as those in nursing homes” and recalled that whenever “there is more circulation, the risk is greater”, but he considered that globally the country and the Algarve, in particular, “have been improving” when it came to tourism numbers.
“I went for a walk, in the late afternoon and early evening, here in Portimão and Alvor, and there is a very big difference in relation to what I saw two or three months ago. There are hotels that are at 70 percent, which is good, there are others below, but it is rising”, he guaranteed.

The Portuguese head of state considered that “this year will be far from normal, which is the end of August being better than the beginning of August, which never happens, and the beginning of September better than it usually is”, because people “are postponing their holidays and are arriving later” to the region.

Asked whether or not a second wave of Covid-19 cases existed, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa replied: “What is called a second wave is the same wave, with ups and downs, and at this moment with a high”, as happens with other countries in Europe, who “were down” and “are now experiencing a high”.

Germany, where “classes start earlier than in Portugal”, has already registered an increase and “greater mobility of people” favours the appearance of outbreaks, exemplified, arguing, however, that “until a vaccine is found” people have to “be used to the idea of living” with the virus.

“Economies, like Germany and other more advanced ones, are trying to live with these [outbreak] phenomena and find measures such as masking more intensively, but not to stop economic activity”, he signalled, adding that “it is not possible to make a new integral containment ”, because if the activity stops again, a “vicious cycle for economies” will begin.