Restaurants and hotels with “little anticipation”, pharmacies with “zero preparation” for the new rules

The new rules have not yet entered into force, but they have already had an effect: both the restoration and the hotel industry have already had reservation cancellations. From Saturday, to enter these establishments, you must present the digital certificate or a negative test to covid-19 which can be done free of charge in 146 Portuguese pharmacies. Despite doubts and inexperience, establishments adapt to try to comply with the new guidelines. The Expresso spoke with a restaurant, a hotel and a pharmacy to understand how the measures announced by the Government on Thursday are being prepared.

“First, we call all our reservations to let them know what’s going to happen. Some have decided to cancel, others come anyway because they already have full vaccinations and therefore have the digital certificate on their mobile phone”. Brasão Brewery, which has three restaurants in Porto, in addition to accepting PCR and antigen tests carried out in laboratories and tests carried out in the pharmacy, will also sell self-tests to covid-19 at the restaurant itself.

The test sold at the establishment is prepaid: “customers first buy the test and then do it at the restaurant door (We don’t have a place, it has to be outside)”, explains one of the people responsible for the Expresso. Customers then wait for the result and, if it is negative, they enter and present it.

The Pestana de Vilamoura hotel, in the Algarve, will have a specific space for performing self-tests: “There is a small room where customers, if they want, can take the test they bought themselves at the pharmacy”. If the result is positive or inconclusive, it is not possible to do the check-in and in this case, no one in the family will be able to enter, despite being just one person, explains a professional from the Pestana group, with more than 90 units in Portugal and abroad. “So far, these are the indications we have,” he adds.

The alternative to testing covid-19 is to present at the time of check-in, or digital certificate of vaccination (with the two doses taken more than two weeks ago) or recovery (which proves that the person already had covid-19 and recovered from the disease). Children up to 12 years old are exempt, they do not need to show anything.

The Farmácia do Lago, in Lisbon, confirms that there has been a lot of demand for rapid antigen tests. “It’s absurd, we practically do nothing else but this. We had a day with 600 calls on four cell phones, it has been unaffordable”, says a pharmacist. The situation should not improve because from now on the expectation is for even more demand, he estimates.

The quick tests that can be presented in catering and tourism have to be done in the presence of a health or pharmaceutical professional that certifies its achievement and its result. How is this going to work, in practice, in the pharmacy? “We still don’t know how we’re going to do it. We found out yesterday”, answers the professional, who regrets the “zero preparation” for the increase in demand. “The pharmacies were caught completely off guard and they have to get away with it”, he complains.

Rule will have a “negative impact” for sectors

PRO.VAR — National Association of Restaurants — anticipates a “big break in turnover” and therefore has already asked, in a statement, to “immediately” suspension of the new rule applied in restaurants on Fridays from 7 pm, weekends and holidays, for indoor dining. This restriction, remember, applies only to high and very high risk councils. The requirement of a negative test or digital certificate is transversal to the entire country in the case of hotels.

The two establishments heard by Expresso predict a “negative impact” for both sectors. “Will harm the restoration, clearly. Today we’ve already started to feel the break and the rules aren’t even applied yet”, observes Cervejaria Brasão, which also regrets the closing at 10:30 pm: “This is a snowball”.

The Pestana hotel in Vilamoura says it has had Reservation Cancellation Requests and More Estimates, as not everyone has a vaccine or a digital certificate and not everyone wants to be tested. Despite the “little anticipation” and inexperience, the hotel believes it is prepared for what is to come.