Lisbon, 22nd April 2020 (Lusa) – The national beaches will have (a limited) maximum capacity of bathers during the bathing season, following the pandemic, which will be calculated according to the “load capacity” of each beach, said the Program Co-ordinator for Blue Flag today.

“The beaches, being public spaces, will also have to have follow the procedures and rules  implemented for the safety of all, obviously highlighting social distancing issues”, to prevent the spread of the disease pandemic caused by the new coronavirus”, explained the National Co-ordinator of the Blue Flag program, from the Blue Flag Association of Europe (ABAE), Catarina Gonçalves.

The official said that a “manual of procedures concerning access to beaches” in Portugal is being prepared, in a collaboration between several organizations, including the Portuguese Navy, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), the Relief Institute for Castaways (ISN) and the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

This guide should be ready “in the first week of May”, stressed Catarina Gonçalves, and will include the recommended load capacity of each beach.

“We will have to assess the means to calculate the load capacity of the beaches, that is, the beaches will have an occupation limit. The concession area of ​​a beach is already physically limited in that it has a dimension of extension and width, according to the high tide”, he continued.

The ABAE Co-ordinator explained that the maximum capacity of the beaches will take into account “the recommendations” of the DGS, namely, “what is the safe space between shades and umbrellas” and the required physical distance between people.

“More practical questions have to be addressed regarding the cleaning of spaces, the use of masks, the actual use of terraces and bars – whether it is permissible and if so under what conditions – the walkways, the showers, slides, deckchairs and even seagulls; all of these will be subject to much tighter hygiene procedures,” he stressed.

However, Catarina Gonçalves said that on the beaches it is “much more complicated” to implement these measures, since “you cannot put a yellow ribbon” to define the space used by bathers.

For this reason, the inspection “will have to be approached differently” and the responsible person should expect that “common sense” will be applied by bathers to comply with the rules and guidelines that will be established.

“We are very concerned with urban areas, as they do not have an entrance and an exit from the beach. The entire promenade, for example, is a beach entrance, which makes imposing restrictions very difficult.