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todayonline - 12 days ago

Portuguese soak up the sun on first state-sanctioned beach weekend

LISBON - Surfboards, beach buckets and picnic baskets in tow, Portuguese flocked to the ocean in droves on Saturday for their first state-sanctioned beach weekend of the year. It s so great to see the sea and get some sun after two months, said Catarina, who arrived to Carcavelos Beach, half an hour from Lisbon, at 9 a.m. with her husband and daughter. But despite her relief, Catarina wasn t sure this newfound freedom could last long. Most are behaving ... but there are a lot of groups, and that s what causes contagion, isn t it? I don t know, by next month I think we ll all be back in our homes, she said. The nation of 10 million people has reported just 30,471 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 1,302 deaths, a small fraction of neighbouring Spain s 28,628 fatalities. Restrictions imposed during a six-week state of emergency starting March 18 are being lifted in 15-day intervals, as long as the number of cases keeps falling. As temperatures rose, people were itching to get back into the water. Yesterday was already busy, Jose Primo, a waiter at a beach restaurant in Carcavelos, said. But today, my God! It s chaos. Some confusion was caused after Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced on May 15 beaches would open on June 6, but a government decree published two days later stated people could go to the beach from the beginning of this week. A smartphone app due to be in operation from June 6 is supposed to help avoid crowding by warning which bathing spots are full. In the meantime people are anticipating crowds. In southern Algarve, savvy beach-goers are reserving beach chairs and umbrellas ahead of time to secure their spot on the sand. Rui Cardoso, owner of a beach business, told news agency Lusa: You can really tell people are worried there ll be no space. REUTERS

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