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Crowds flock to Portugal's beaches as government eases coronavirus restrictions

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By Michael Daventry  with Euronews
People flocked to the beaches after lockdown in Portugal.
People flocked to the beaches after lockdown in Portugal.   -   Copyright  JOSÉ SENA GOULÃO/LUSA

Hundreds of people in Portugal took advantage of fine weather to visit the country's beaches for first time since the coronavirus lockdown began.

Beaches on the outskirts of the capital Lisbon were busy this weekend with sunbathers, picnickers  and surfers as people basked in the sunshine and temperatures of over 30 degrees.

It came after Prime Minister Antonio Costa's government announced a phased lifting of lockdown restrictions last week.

The coronavirus outbreak has been more limited in Portugal, which has reported 1,302 fatalities, compared to neighbouring Spain, where 28,628 people have died.

It has led the authorities to allow people to visit beaches — so long as they keep at least 1.5 metres away from others.

But many in Lisbon said they were still uncomfortable by the crowds.

"I didn't expect so many people on the beach today," one woman said on Costa de Caparica beach on Saturday. "We are trying to keep the safety distance, which is not easy because there is a lot of people, even in the sea."

Another man said it was "wonderful" to be outside after being closed in for two months, but added: "we're going to stay here for a while and then go away because there's really a lot of people."

Costa's government says a smartphone app will be launched early next month to help people avoid crowds by issuing warnings when the beaches become full.