Decree-Law no. 35-A / 2021


Publication: Diário da República no. 96/2021, 1st Supplement, Series I of 2021-05-18

 Issuer: Presidency of the Council of Ministers

 Proponent Entity: Environment and Climate Action

 Diploma Type: Decree-Law

 Number: 35-A / 2021

 Pages: 40- (2) to 40- (12)


PDF version: Download


Regulates access, occupation and use of bathing beaches, in the context of the pandemic of the disease COVID-19, for the bathing season of 2021


Decree-Law no. 35-A / 2021 of May 18

Summary: Regulates access, occupation and use of bathing beaches, in the context of the COVID-19 disease pandemic, for the 2021 bathing season.

The epidemiological situation verified in Portugal, as a result of the pandemic of the disease COVID-19, has been demanding the adoption of several extraordinary measures, in order to prevent, contain and mitigate the transmission of infection.

The beaches are very important recreational spaces in Portugal, visited every year by thousands of people, so, still maintaining the context of a pandemic, it is important to define the procedures to be taken into account when using these spaces, in the 2021 bathing season so as not to jeopardize the public health strategy adopted, ensuring a safe enjoyment.

In view of the learning that resulted from the application of Decree-Law no. 24/2020 , of 25 May, in its current wording, which regulated the access, occupation and use of bathing beaches, in the context of the disease pandemic COVID-19, for the bathing season of 2020, and the current evolution of the pandemic situation, in a phase in which the gradual and phased resumption of economic activity is projected, the Government believes that it is necessary to proceed with a review of the rules of access, occupation and the use of bathing beaches, in the context of the pandemic.

The risk of contamination through the respiratory secretions of an infected person remains the direct vehicle of transmission, which also occurs in these spaces, so the use of beaches is no exception to compliance with the general measures for the prevention and control of the disease pandemic. COVID-19, defined by health authorities, who recommend physical distance, frequent hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, cleaning and sanitizing spaces, and the use of a mask, when necessary and appropriate.

Studies that have been carried out have shown that there is a low risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease through water. It is also estimated that the risk of transmission through wastewater systems or water for recreational use is low. In addition, other studies indicate that, in addition to the fact that currently there are no data on the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in seawater, the dilution effect, as well as the presence of salt, are factors that probably contribute to a decrease in the load virus and its inactivation, by analogy to what happens in other coronaviruses.

In addition, there are no studies to date on the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the sand. However, the joint action of solar ultraviolet radiation, the high temperature that the sand can reach during the summer and the salt of sea water favor the inactivation of pathogens, such as coronavirus.

However, considering the precautionary principle, it is appropriate to adopt measures to maintain the risk as low as possible, which can be achieved through the intensive dissemination to the population of the care to be taken in these public spaces, in preparing them to induce adoption. of good practices, and in promoting the articulation of all entities with the competence to enhance prevention and inspection actions.

This decree-law thus defines, in essence, the rules applicable to beaches qualified as bathing, inserted in bathing waters, since in these there is a greater concentration of users, the sale of goods and services and, still, a greater number of users. spaces and equipment, which can result in an increased risk of contagion, if hygiene and safety rules are not adopted.

In this sense, rules are defined, namely, the duties of users and concessionaires, the use of parking lots, the circulation of access to the beach, avoiding the crossing of people, bathing facilities and the occupation of the beach, the provision of equipment. , and the practice of sports activities, in order to safeguard the recommended physical distance and the observance of respiratory etiquette recommendations.

This regime applies, with the necessary adaptations, to the use of outdoor swimming pools.

The hearing of the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities was promoted.


Under the terms of paragraph a) of paragraph 1 of article 198 of the Constitution, the Government decrees the following:


General provisions

Article 1


This decree-law establishes the exceptional and temporary regime applicable to the occupation and use of the beaches, in the context of the pandemic of the disease COVID-19, for the bathing season of 2021.

Article 2

Scope of application

1 – This decree-law applies to all beaches qualified as bathing, inserted in bathing waters identified in the ordinance provided for in paragraph 6 of article 4 of Decree-Law no. 135/2009 , of 3 of June, in its current wording to be approved by the members of the Government responsible for the areas of national defense and the environment, comprising coastal, transition and inland beaches integrated in the water domain, their access, parking and contiguous spaces of public enjoyment, for support bathing area on the mainland.

2 – The rules provided for in articles 5, 8, 9, 10, in paragraphs 1 to 4 of article 22, and in articles 26, 27, 28. , 31 and 32 apply to all beaches.

3 – This decree-law is applicable, with the necessary adaptations, to the operation of outdoor swimming pools.

Article 3


For the purposes of this decree-law, the following definitions apply:

a) “Concession area”, the area defined in the water resource utilization certificates (TURH) issued;

b) “Large beaches”, those with a potential capacity, determined under the terms of article 11, greater than 500 users;

c) “Small beaches”, those that have a potential capacity, determined under the terms of article 11, of up to 500 users.

Article 4

General principles

The occupation and use of the beaches obey the following principles:

a) Protection of public health;

b) Risk prevention;

c) Safe public enjoyment of waters identified as bathing in the ordinance referred to in paragraph 1 of article 2;

d) Public enjoyment of existing infrastructures;

e) Adaptability of the management measures provided for in the present decree-law according to the local context;

f) Right of access for all citizens to enjoy the beaches, except for restricted or prohibited use.

Article 5

General duties of users

Beach users must:

a) Comply with the norms and guidelines issued by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) in terms of respiratory etiquette;

b) To ensure the physical safety distance between users when accessing and using the beach and when bathing in the sea or in the river;

c) Proceed with frequent hand hygiene;

d) Wear a mask until you reach the beach whenever the physical distance recommended by the health authorities proves to be impractical;

e) Avoid access to areas identified with high or full occupation;

f) Comply with the determinations of the competent authorities;

g) Deposit the waste generated in the places destined for that purpose.

Article 6

General duties of the concessionaire entities

Without prejudice to the full fulfilment of the obligations contained in the TURH, the concessionaire entities must:

a) Comply with the determinations and guidelines of the health authorities regarding the hygiene and cleaning of equipment and installations;

b) Contract the necessary means to ensure compliance with the regime established in the present decree-law;

c) Display, in a visible way, the information provided for in this decree-law that is intended for users;

d) Ensure a close relationship with the competent authorities, namely the Portuguese Environment Agency, IP (APA, IP), the National Maritime Authority (AMN) and local authorities, promptly carrying out the reports that are necessary to ensure safety in the concession area and in the bathing unit, as well as in the non-concession area with regard to small beaches.

Article 7

Awareness and information campaigns

1 – APA, IP, and the local authorities must promote information and awareness campaigns that guarantee the dissemination of the rules, in a clear and simple way, regarding the occupation and safe use of the beaches.

2 – AMN collaborates with APA, IP, and the municipalities in the sense of the widest dissemination of the campaigns referred to in the previous number.


Parking management

Article 8


1 – Parking outside the designated and identified parking areas and zones for this purpose is prohibited.

2 – The overnight stay and parking of motorhomes or similar in parks and parking areas is prohibited, under the terms provided for in article 50-A of the Highway Code, approved by Decree-Law no. 114/94 , of 3 May , in its current wording.

3 – In case of non-compliance with the provisions of the preceding paragraphs, the fines provided for in the applicable rules are applied, and the sanction frame must always be increased to double, without prejudice to the maximum limits applicable in general terms.

4 – The competent authority must reinforce the signs in places where parking in general is prohibited, or where motorhome parking is permitted.

Article 9

Delimitation of parking space

1 – The management entities of the parks and parking areas should, whenever possible, organize the space.

2 – When formal parks and parking areas do not exist, it is the responsibility of the local authorities to manage spaces that are intended for parking, in compliance with the applicable territorial management instruments, and without jeopardizing the natural values ​​present.

Article 10

Hygiene and safety rules

The management entities of parks and parking areas must:

a) Ensure the posting of hygiene and safety instructions in clearly visible places;

b) Ensure compliance with the rules defined by the DGS in cleaning and sanitizing facilities and equipment.


Access to bathing beaches

Article 11

Potential occupation capacity

1 – APA, IP, determines, by order, published in the Diário da República and made available on its website, the method of calculation and the potential occupation capacity of the bathing beaches, in the context of the disease pandemic COVID-19, to guarantee the safety of users and the protection of public health, taking into account the useful area of ​​the area intended for bathing use and a minimum safety area per user, as well as the list of small beaches.

2 – The useful area of ​​the area intended for bathing use is calculated from the length of the beachfront and a depth strip of the usable area, counted from the limit of the spread of the waves, in the case of coastal beaches, or from the oscillation water level, in the case of transitional and inland waters, and except for areas covered by coastal risk safeguard strips, when applicable.

3 – The order provided for in paragraph 1 must be published within a maximum period of 10 days from the date of publication of this decree-law.

Article 12

Information on the state of occupation in accessing the beaches

1 – In order to avoid excessive influx to the beaches, the concessionaire entities, in the area of ​​the respective concession, must signal the state of occupation of the bathing beaches that corresponds to the use of the useful area defined in terms of the previous article, using color signs , in the following terms:

a) Green: low occupancy, which corresponds to a use of up to 50%;

b) Yellow: high occupancy, which corresponds to a use above 50% and up to 90%;

c) Red: full occupancy, which corresponds to a use greater than 90%.

2 – In the case of small beaches, the obligation provided for in the preceding paragraph concerns the entire beach.

3 – In the non-concessioned bathing beaches, the responsibility provided for in paragraph 1 lies with the local authorities.

4 – On non-bathing beaches, the signaling and information on the status of the occupation of the beach should, whenever possible, be guaranteed by the local authorities.

Article 13

Dissemination of information on the state of occupation of the beaches

1 – In order to allow users to make a timely decision on the choice of the beach, APA, IP, provides updated information throughout the day, via the mobile app «Beach Info» and on its website, on the state of occupation of the beaches, without prejudice to the development of other applications.

2 – For the purposes of the preceding paragraph, the order referred to in paragraph 1 of article 11 determines the methods and technologies to be applied during the bathing season of 2021 to estimate the state of occupation of the beaches, and may, for that purpose, be obtained, in particular, non-personal data on the number of electronic equipment or be automatically processed spots of occupation of the beaches from existing devices or to be installed for the purpose and that allow to estimate the number of users present in each beach.

Article 14

Passage zones

1 – Only one direction of circulation in the accesses to the beach should be defined, unless physically impossible.

2 – On bathing beaches with more than one entrance, an entrance area and an exit area should be privileged, clearly visible and with clear indication from the parking area, when available.

3 – In the narrow passage areas, a longitudinal division can be performed, preferably on the floor, in order to allow circulation in one direction and to the right.

4 – Circulation in the crossing areas implies maintaining a physical safety distance of one and a half meters between each user and the use of a mask, avoiding stops at the accesses.

5 – The concessionaire entities must provide skin disinfectant solutions that allow disinfection of the hands or washbasin with liquid soap next to the accesses to the concession area, and recommend the disinfection of the hands before the users go to the beach.

6 – Concessionaires must ensure that all employees who have contact with users or circulate in common spaces use the personal protective equipment recommended by DGS and suitable for their tasks.


Circulation, accesses and beach establishments and waste management

Article 15

Circulation rules at crosswalks, walls and marginal

1 – When circulating on the crosswalks, on walls and on the margins, the physical safety distance of one and a half meters must be maintained between each user and the use of a mask.

2 – For the purposes of the preceding paragraph, directions of circulation and indicative physical distance marks must be defined, under the terms of the previous article, with the necessary adaptations.

3 – On the treadmills, preferably one should be used for access and one for the exit, with markings of spacing and direction of movement or, when this is not possible, due to the circulation between the bathing units being carried out by a only crosswalk, affix signs indicating the need to comply with the safety distance between users.

4 – The cleaning of the surfaces must be ensured, according to the guidelines defined by the health authorities, and the frequency of maintenance of the treadmills should be increased.

Article 16

Signs and information

1 – Beach supports, bars, restaurants, terraces, picnic parks and first aid posts on bathing beaches must display information to raise awareness among users to comply with hygiene and safety procedures to be complied with in the respective areas.

2 – The information provided for in the preceding paragraph must be accessible to users and appear in several languages, namely in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

Article 17

Beach supports, bars, restaurants and terraces

1 – The beach supports, bars, restaurants and terraces on the bathing beaches, must define procedures that ensure the compliance with the recommendations defined by the DGS by workers and users, namely the sanitation of sanitary spaces and facilities, the maximum capacity and the physical safety distance of two meters between users, as well as in waiting areas.

2 – Those responsible for beach support, bars and restaurants assess, on a case-by-case basis, the need to reorganize areas destined to terraces, in order to ensure compliance with the physical safety distance.

3 – For the purposes of the preceding paragraph, the area for terraces may be increased, to be authorized, on a case by case basis, by the competent authorities, and may not interfere with other uses or jeopardize the natural values ​​present.

4 – In the cases in which the area is increased under the terms of the previous number, the concessionaire entity is exempt from the payment of a water resource fee in the area of ​​the terrace that results from this increase.

5 – The establishments referred to in this article are governed, supplementarily, by the rules applicable to bars, restaurants and terraces outside bathing spaces.

Article 18

Picnic Parks

Frequent hygiene and cleaning of tables and chairs in picnic parks must be carried out and the number of waste collection devices and the frequency of cleaning must be increased.

Article 19

First aid stations

1 – First aid posts must be equipped with thermometers and comprise an area for the isolation of suspected cases of COVID-19 disease.

2 – A contingency plan must be developed to deal with situations considered to be suspicious of COVID-19 disease, in accordance with the rules defined by the DGS, including the identification of the place where any suspicious case should be directed.

3 – The person responsible for the management of the first aid post must direct the suspected cases to the isolation space and provide all the support that proves necessary, prohibiting the approach of any other person until the arrival of the medical emergency team.

Article 20

Sanitary facilities

1 – Sanitation protocols must be defined for sanitary facilities, whether or not included in the beach support, as well as the provision of solutions that allow skin disinfection of the hands or a washbasin with liquid soap for hand washing.

2 – Footwear is mandatory in sanitary facilities, and personal protective behaviors must be adopted, such as hand hygiene, the use of a mask inside the facility, the safety distance and respiratory label measures.

3 – Outside the sanitary facilities, information on the maximum number of users and the prescription of physical distance should be made available.

4 – The frequency of sanitation of sanitary facilities must be increased, with the record of cleaning actions carried out, as well as ensuring the use of personal protective equipment by the workers responsible for the cleaning service.

5 – Without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 1 of article 24, the use of footwear in outdoor showers is mandatory.

Article 21

Waste Management

1 – Containers for depositing waste, lined with resistant bags, either from the undifferentiated fraction or from the fractions collected selectively, must be made available, along the length of the concession beach, adopting the colour code used at national level, with a lid and, preferably, pedal-operated opening.

2 – As an alternative to containers, supports for bags for depositing waste can be made available, either from the undifferentiated fraction, or from the fractions collected selectively.

3 – In the extension of a non-concessioned beach, containers of the undifferentiated fraction must be made available by the municipalities.

4 – A protection net should be placed in the area surrounding the containers, in order to avoid the dispersion of residues, especially masks.

5 – Information should be made available on the fractions to be deposited in each of the containers next to the waste disposal containers, stating the information that masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment must be placed in the container that respects undifferentiated waste.

6 – The catering and beverage establishments referred to in article 17 must have containers with a lid and a non-manual opening for depositing waste, and must comply with the procedures for collecting the waste and cleaning the equipment.

7 – A daily hygiene plan for containers or bag supports must be followed, focusing mainly on contact points, and following the cleaning and disinfection procedures defined by the DGS, and the frequency of waste collection must be increased, ensuring that the filling of the bags does not exceed two thirds of their capacity.


Rules for the use of spaces and equipment

Article 22

Use of the beach or the area defined for bathing use

1 – The use of the beach or the area defined for bathing use, outside the concession area, must observe the hygiene and safety rules defined by the DGS, maintaining the physical safety distance of one and a half meters between each user.

2 – Compliance with the physical safety distance is not required for users who are part of the same group.

3 – The parasols/umbrellas of users who are alone or in a group, must be at least three meters apart, counting from the outer limit of the parasols of other users, who are alone or in group.

4 – The rules referred to in paragraph 1, as well as the information to make users aware of the adoption of good practices, are posted in signs near the beach access areas.

5 – Circulation corridors, parallel and / or perpendicular to the coast line or the margin, can be defined, according to the available area and the conditions of each beach, in order to discourage random circulation in occupied areas.

6 – The rules of physical distance and the limits of concentration of people apply in the use of the beach and adjacent spaces of common enjoyment.

Article 23

Awnings, stems and beach huts

1 – In the concession areas, the assurance of a spacing of at least:

a) Three meters between beach awnings and thatch umbrellas, counted from the outer limit;

b) One and a half meters between the limits of the tents, counted from the outer limit.

2 – The competent authorities may authorize the exceptional enlargement of the concession area defined for the placement of awnings, parasols and tents, taking into account the need to maintain the physical safety distance between users of the beach.

3 – The area referred to in the preceding paragraph may be extended until it occupies a maximum of 50% of the useful area of ​​the beach, the remaining 50% being reserved for the non-concession area, and provided that it does not jeopardize other uses or values natural in presence.

4 – On beaches with a high influx of users and where sedimentary hydrodynamics has reduced the useful area of ​​the beach, local authorities may, upon prior opinion of APA, IP, and AMN, determine the reduction of the concession area, ensure the need to maintain the physical safety distance between beach users.

5 – The number of users per awning, thatched umbrellas and huts/tent must not exceed five users, and the surrounding space must be used in order to guarantee the safety distance for the occupants of the neighbouring awning, thatch or tent.

6 – Areas reserved for groups of children associated with holiday activities and for people with reduced mobility may be created, if this allows for a better ordering of the space.

7 – The concessionaire entities must provide, in a clear and accessible way, information on behaviours to be adopted when using awnings, stems and tents.

8 – The concessionaire must clean awnings, stems and tents whenever there is a change of user.

Article 24


1 – The provision and use of any equipment for collective use, namely pedal boats, slides, indoor body or foot showers, and other similar structures, may not imply the occupation of the useful area of ​​the area intended for bathing use, namely for purposes for permanent or temporary storage of equipment or for the exercise of activities related to the availability of equipment, being still subject to the guidelines defined by the DGS, with regard to hygiene and use.

2 – When accompanying people with reduced mobility, compliance with safety procedures must be guaranteed, namely the cleaning of amphibious chairs after each use, and the use of a mask or visor by the user and companion, except when its use is not practicable. .

Article 25

Floating equipment in inland waters

Floating bath support equipment can only be installed in inland waters, if they are essential to prevent risks associated with safety in the bath, and the entity responsible for the installation must define, for each equipment, a maximum number of users, in order to safeguard the recommended physical safety distance, which the lifeguard is responsible for controlling.

Article 26

Non-individual activities at sea or in the area defined for bathing

1 – In the area defined for the bathing use of the beaches, activities of a sporting nature involving two or more people are not allowed, as well as activities providing massage services and similar activities, and equipment or defined spaces that promote their realization.

2 – Except for the provisions of the previous number, the practice of sports activities involving two or more people, when the state of occupation of the beach, determined under the terms of paragraph a) of paragraph 1 of article 12 and Article 13, is low.

3 – Classes promoted by surfing and similar sports schools or instructors are also exempted from the provisions of paragraph 1, provided that the maximum number of five participants per instructor is respected, and the recommended physical safety distance of a meter and a half between each participant, both on land and at sea.

4 – In individual nautical activities, the rules and guidelines for physical safety distance, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene and surface cleaning and disinfection, defined by the DGS, must be complied with.

5 – When cleaning the equipment provided for in the preceding paragraph, the use of products with sodium hypochlorite and biocidal products is prohibited.

6 – Cultural and religious activities in the area defined for bathing use on the beaches must respect the rules of social distance and hygiene and safety.

Article 27

Street vending on the beach

1 – Street vending on the beaches is allowed, provided that the rules and guidelines of hygiene and safety defined by health authorities are respected.

2 – The seller must wear a mask when contacting users.

Article 28

Sanitation of spaces for public use

When cleaning spaces for public use, namely walkways, walls and equipment in the area defined for bathing use, the use of products with sodium hypochlorite and biocides is prohibited.


Assistance and inspection

Article 29

Assistance to bathers

1 – Local authorities must reinforce the means for assisting bathers in areas not licensed on large beaches.

2 – In rescue actions, the actions of basic life support, in the context of the pandemic of the disease COVID-19, must follow the recommendations issued by the Institute of Aid to Castaways.

Article 30

Monitoring and inspection

1 – It is incumbent upon the health authorities, in conjunction with APA, IP, through their regional services, and in conjunction with local AMN bodies, the territorially competent security force and the municipal civil protection, to carry out the assessment and monitoring of situations that may put users’ safety at risk for the protection of public health on the beaches, as well as defining and implementing the respective measures that are necessary to be adopted.

2 – The monitoring of compliance with the provisions of the present decree-law is the responsibility of the local bodies of the AMN, namely the Maritime Police, the National Republican Guard, the Public Security Police, the Municipal Police, the civil protection authorities, the health authorities , to APA, IP, to the Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Security and Maritime Services, to the port authorities, which must articulate with each other.

Article 31


1 – It constitutes an offense, sanctioned with a fine of (euro) 50.00 to (euro) 100.00, in the case of natural persons, and (euro) 500.00 to (euro) 1,000.00, in the case of persons collective bargaining, the practice of the following acts:

a) Non-compliance by users with the general duties that they have on them under the terms of article 5, without prejudice to the provisions of the following paragraphs;

b) Non-compliance by the concessionaire entities with the general duties imposed on them under the terms of article 6, without prejudice to the provisions of the following paragraphs;

c) Violation of the obligation to wear a mask when accessing the beach, beach supports, restaurants or sanitary facilities, provided for in Article 5 (d), Article 14 (4), 1 of article 15, paragraph 2 of article 20, paragraph 2 of article 24 and paragraph 2 of article 27;

d) Violation of the rules and indications in the circulation area in the accesses to the beach, the crosswalks, the wall and the marginal, or in the sand, foreseen in articles 14, 15 and 22, respectively;

e) Non-compliance with the duty to ensure the safety distance between persons or groups of persons, provided for in Article 5 (b), Article 14 (4), Article 15 (1). and in paragraph 1 of article 22;

f) Non-compliance with the instructions of the competent authorities, regarding the occupation of the bathing area and the respective accesses;

g) Failure to provide information to beach users or failure to comply with DGS guidelines in establishments and facilities, in violation of the provisions of articles 16 and 17;

h) Non-compliance with the obligation to use shoes in toilets and showers in outdoor spaces, provided for in paragraphs 2 and 5 of article 20;

i) Non-compliance with the obligations related to the correct waste management, provided for in article 21;

  1. j) Practice of non-individual activities at sea or in the area defined for bathing use in violation of the provisions of article 26.

2 – The provisions of Decree-Law no. 28-B / 2020 , of June 26, in the current wording, apply to administrative offenses provided for in this Decree-Law .

Article 32

Beach interdiction

APA, IP, AMN local bodies, the Regional Health Authority, the District Civil Protection Command and local authorities may determine the prohibition of access to the beach for public health reasons, namely due to the serious non-compliance with the duties that over the concessionary entities and users of the beach and adjacent spaces.


Final provision

Article 33


This decree-law comes into force on the day following that of its publication.

Seen and approved by the Council of Ministers on May 6, 2021. – Pedro Gramaxo de Carvalho Siza Vieira – Catarina Teresa Rola Sarmento e Castro – Eduardo Arménio do Nascimento Cabrita – João Pedro Soeiro de Matos Fernandes – Ricardo da Piedade Abreu Serrão Santos.

Enacted on May 14, 2021.

Publish yourself.

The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Countersigned on May 17, 2021.

  • The Prime Minister, António Luís Santos da Costa.