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Porto suburb puts food before festivities as coronavirus fallout bites

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By Filipa Soares
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Christmas truck delivers gifts in front of a primary school in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Christmas truck delivers gifts in front of a primary school in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal   -   Copyright  Euronews

Each year a suburb of Porto toasts Christmas with a €350,000 festive extravaganza, including a big wheel, carousels and an ice rink.

But the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that entertainment is not a priority for Vila Nova de Gaia.

Instead, the suburb will put the €350,000 towards helping those that have been hardest-hit by the health crisis.

"We understand that at this moment there are enough needs created by the pandemic, like layoffs, unemployment, loss of incomes, that justify the relocation of that money and some towards supporting the community, such as aid to pay rent, food boxes to the families in need," said Eduardo Vítor Rodrigues, mayor of Vila Nova de Gaia. "So, we are not spending the money in an amusement park or a Christmas market for example, but with the same Christmas spirit and at the same time solving a serious problem that our people face."

Together with a private partner, the town hall has decided to distribute 3,000 Christmas boxes with food products to families in need.

In a year’s time, locals in Vila Nova de Gaia hope that they’ll be allowed to celebrate Christmas in their usual style.