Speaking to Lusa, the commander of the Southern Maritime Zone, the device that has existed since the beginning of April along the approximately 200 kilometres of the Algarve coast “is reinforced with teams of various valences” to guarantee the safety of the beaches until 30 September. “The reinforcement focuses on the ‘SeaWatch’ projects for motorised surveillance, safe beach for pedestrian surveillance, lifeboat crews, whose mission is nautical patrols, and an information system for the management of the capacity of beaches ” stated Fernando Rocha Pacheco.

In the four months of the bathing season, the surveillance and rescue missions will be carried out by 29 crew members, distributed over six ‘Amarok’ off-road vehicles, four watercraft (rescue) and the nautical facilities of the region’s lifesaving stations. In addition to this, there will also be a total of 514 lifeguards on the beaches, “elements that beach concessionaires must implement to monitor and rescue seafarers during the bathing season”. Similar to what happened last year, surveillance due to the crowding of bathing areas due to the Covid-19 pandemic will be reinforced. “This reinforcement will be repeated this year to safeguard people and raise awareness of good health practices,” said the captain of the port of Faro.

Fernando Rocha Pacheco took the opportunity to appeal to bathers “to think about their individual and collective security, and to respect the rules that are defined, namely, in physical distances, hygiene and wearing a mask”. The rules applied in the 2020 bathing season due to the Covid-19 pandemic will remain this year, with the exception of those related to sports activities on the beach or the use of some leisure equipment on the beaches. The remaining measures, such as the need to use a mask to access cafes or restaurants and bathrooms and no need to use a mask on the sand, remain. Failure to comply with the rules on access to and occupation of beaches is now subject to an administrative offence.

In the Algarve, there are 87 blue flag beaches, remaining the Portuguese region with the highest number of awards, according to the Blue Flag Programme. They are distributed by the municipalities of Albufeira (24), Loulé (11), Vila do Bispo (11), Portimão (seven), Lagoa (six), Vila Real de Santo António, Tavira, Olhão, Faro and Aljezur with four, Castro Marim with three and Silves with two. On the other hand, the environmental association Quercus this year awarded the Gold Quality award to 93 beaches in the Algarve, 17 more than last year, being the second Portuguese region with the most beaches awarded the distinction.