Over 5,000 Cars Cross Spanish Portuguese Border In Just Two Days After Reopening.
Thousands of Spaniards took advantage of the reopening of land borders to Portugal over the weekend to make their way into the Algarve.
This came after the Ministry of Internal Administration (MIA) had sent out a press release to media offices including Spain on a list of 19 countries whose residents are not meant to be travelling to Portugal for anything but essential purposes.
It is clear in the text that the term ‘essential purposes’ does not encompass or condone weekend getaways. A source from the border at Castro Marim in Portugal on Sunday, May 2, said: “Traffic movement during the morning averaged around 120 cars per minute, a number superior to that registered on Saturday, and very much higher than the initial few days following the first deconfinement”.
The source added: “With the reopening of frontiers, control is not being done although there are many Spanish and Portuguese citizens calling in to ask if there are any restrictions on passage”.
As for the economically-struggling town of Vila Real de Santo António (VRSA), the Spanish influx was a ‘godsend’ however.
Hundreds of travellers arrived in time for lunch, and shopping, even though VRSA is actually on the list of municipalities that have been put ‘on alert’ due to their high incidence of contagion.
According to the prime minister, if its case numbers of SARS-CoV-2 do not improve by next Thursday, the town’s businesses could face being ‘pushed backwards’ in terms of freedom to operate and heavy restrictions could be put in place as before.
None of this was referred to in reports by the media who simply cited the delight of Spaniards happy at being able to leave their country.
“We needed to get out and enjoy the fresh air. We have been in captivity for a very long time”, Cristina Tejedor from Spain said as she enjoyed a meal with her family in VRSA. She told reporters that she had been waiting “a long time for frontiers between Portugal and Spain to open” because she feels safer in Portugal than she does in Spain and added that many Spaniards have a habit of coming to Portugal for weekends to enjoy Portuguese gastronomy and to buy fabrics that they cannot buy in Spain.
“The Portuguese are more disciplined”, said Ms Tejedor. “They comply with the rules and use masks, which doesn’t happen in the majority of Spanish towns”.