After the summer holidays, and in a time that continues shadowed by COVID-19, with 2 weeks to go before the start of new school year, what challenges do we face and how can our answer be? What balance can we make regarding to tourism?
Concerning tourism, Portugal had 1 million tourists in July. The number represents a decrease of 64% compared to the same month of 2019 (source: National Institute of Statistics). In this sector, it can be said that the Portuguese were largely responsible for the increase in the number of overnight stays and that they helped Portuguese tourism to rise gradually after almost three months of stopping. Unlike previous years, where Algarve was favorite for holidays, this year the Portuguese ventured to discover the northern interior and center of our country.
At this moment, it is necessary to start planning the next months of work. In relation to COVID-19 at the moment, in Portugal, the cases remain an average of 300 cases per day and less than 5 deaths per day. There are some worrying contagion spots and we don’t even know if a second wave of COVID-19 has already started. Nursing homes have generated a lot of concern in Portugal but on the other hand we have seen an increasing number of cases among young people.
In schools, new rules will be adopted at the opening of the new school year: five-minute breaks, classes starting early and ending later, dividing classes into shifts, students helping to disinfest rooms and canteens with takeway service are some of the solutions to reduce contagions among students.
Due to the general increase of cases in Portugal and in the rest of Europe, Portuguese government declared that as of September 15, Portugal will enter again in a state of contingency, where more measures will be known to try to prevent the increase in the number of cases as the new autumn season approaches.
What about Erasmus mobilities?
At this point, it is very difficult to plan mobilities, since the situation across Europe is very unstable – the number of cases has increased a lot and there is still a lot of fear of traveling and leaving the country of origin, even if all precautions and measures in the contingency plans are being followed. Since in many cases it is not possible to carry out digital mobilities, at any time we have to be aware that the mobilities can be canceled, mainly because there is still much fear on the part of young people and their parents to be away from home during the period of internship. This whole situation causes many fears among the entities that promote mobilities and with certainty that the consequences will be felt in the very near future.
However, despite the predictions of a second COVID-19 wave, the population and government are better informed and trying to find the best solutions to avoid a second lockdown.