Covid-19: Foreign caravanists in the Algarve are fearful and without information

Last Updated on 24/03/2020 by VdB

Uncertainty, lack of information and the possibility of having to leave Portugal due to the Covid 19 pandemic are fears currently expressed by foreigners who still occupy the RV park in Vila Real de Santo António.

After the government ordered the closure of the RV and camping parks on Sunday and gave their users until Friday to leave these areas, the Lusa agency was at the RV park in the Algarve city of Vila Real de Santo António, near the border with Spain, to listen to the reactions of users who are still in the area designated for these vehicles.

Dutchman John von Santen has been in the Algarve for a month and a half now, and has told the press that the several dozen motorhomes still in the park in Vila Real de Santo António have not yet been contacted by the authorities, which will have to be done in the future, and that the information they have is scattered and has been obtained by escorts who are also there.

“We have to go home,” he admitted when Lusa asked her what she would do if she had to leave the park by Friday, making sure that “nobody has officially spoken to the users.

However, at the end of this morning, during a report by the Lusa agency, teams of civil defence, security forces and health authorities were at the RV park in this city in the Faro district, without any of them wanting to make a statement, and referred the matter to the municipal council.

The camping and caravan parks must now organise the “orderly and peaceful departure” of users by Friday, according to a government decree published on Sunday.

On the possibility of leaving the vehicles in Portugal and being returned to their countries by plane, given the progress made by some associations representing these collectives, the Dutch did not consider a solution possible.

“We do not like this. We do not like aeroplanes, even in these circumstances. Anyone who is in an aeroplane and has the same air conditioning is no good,” he said, arguing that he has his “own air conditioning” in his motor home and is safer.

A source from the Câmara de Vila Real de Santo António, which was contacted by the press, made it clear over the phone that “a survey is still being carried out on the number of users who stay in caravan and camping parks in the municipality”.

According to the same source, only after this survey will “the most appropriate measures” be taken, since there are also people who can live in the parks and stay there if they were already living there when the government ordered the closure of these spaces.

Karen Bogerd, another of the caravanists who are still staying in the Pombaline city, told the press that there are “people over 80 who are completely panicked”, who “are afraid” of being infected by the corona virus and who “ask too much to leave the park and then travel to their countries by plane”.

“I think they should create a safe area here in the park, and we’d stay here and maintain strict standards”, he suggested, as “in the Algarve, they’re safe”.

What’s more, many of them can “not go to France” or “travel to the Netherlands, which is more than 3,000 kilometres away”, because they’re “sick people who would have to drive non-stop to get there”, with no petrol stations or assistive devices working along the way.

As far as the possibility of having to travel by plane is concerned, Karen Bogerd is a perennial favorite: “I have never flown before, my husband is claustrophobic. I do not fly”.

Her husband, Peter Bogerd, also disagrees with the decision to close the parks and return users to their countries because he suffers “from health problems in his digestive system”, it “would take at least 14 days to travel to the Netherlands” and “it is not possible to make a trip on the motorway in such a short time”, and because he also has no home to return to.

He therefore believes that the Portuguese authorities should “let everyone stay in the park”, where “there is water, electricity and supermarkets to which one can walk”.

“We want to stay here, we came here to stay in the country, to find and rent a house. I left my house in Holland and I have nothing there anymore. We didn’t come here for tourism, but to stay,” he said, arguing that the Portuguese authorities “cannot send these people away.

There are 23 deaths and 2,060 confirmed infections in Portugal, the Directorate-General for Health said today. Of those infected, 201 are hospitalised, 47 of them in intensive care units.

Portugal is in a state of emergency from Thursday 00:00 until 23:59 on 2 April.

In addition, the government declared a public emergency for the municipality of Ovar on Tuesday.

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