HOTELS in the Algarve could open as soon as June as Portugal begins to ease its lockdown measures.
The country has released a six-week lockdown plan, with three phases of reopening, after the state of emergency ended yesterday.
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Starting from today, small local shops as well as hairdressers, beauty salons and bookstores will open, according to the Telegraph.
After 15 days, if cases of coronavirus do not spike, cafes, restaurants and secondary schools will then open, before shopping centres, bars, primary schools and gyms on June 1.
While hotels are not mentioned in the re-opening stages, it is likely that with normality from June, resorts will be able to open on a limited basis.
Hotels are already looking into ways to encourage tourists to return – The Algarve Tourism Board, coordinated with Portugal Tourism Board, are allowing all registered companies to request a "Clean & Safe" stamp.
This proves that the resort is meeting all the cleaning and hygiene requirements enforced by Portuguese authorities for the prevention of coronavirus and other infections.
Prime minister Antonio Costa explained that the government understood the risk of reopening which could lead to a rise in cases, but added: "I will never be ashamed to take a step back if necessary for the safety of the Portuguese."
While measures are already being relaxed, beaches remain closed other than for water sports and exercise, but spending time in parks is no longer strictly forbidden.
Vending machines selling masks, hand gel and gloves have been installed in Lisbon and Porto subways, which have reopened at two thirds capacity.
Masks are obligatory in enclosed public spaces like supermarkets and on public transport, with rule-breakers incurring fines of up to €350 (£307).
There are fears that hotels won't be able to open this year in Portugal due to the pandemic, with domestic holidays and local bookings being the most likely – although this may be "insufficient" in keeping them open.
Portugal has already announced that holiday booking refunds will be pushed to 2022, with credit notes issued until then.
Yet tour operators are already selling holidays for 2021, with cheap deals for Portugal from £252pp.
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