The streets of the city, which were once empty, begin to come to life little by little and the shops, reopened more than a month ago, are returning to its new normal, regaining its lost confidence with the pandemic.
Porto. went to the streets to talk to some retailers and try to understand how the local shops in the city have faced this new reality.
After almost two months with their doors closed due to the State of Emergency caused by COVID-19, the reopening of local shops, restaurants and hotels in the city of Porto had to adapt to the new rules, facing a challenge that requires creative solutions to get back up.
In the heart of Porto city centre, Mito restaurant, on Rua de José Falcão, is such an example. It reopened its doors on May 29th with new measures, some of them enhanced, to guarantee the customers who visit the space that it is possible to have a safe meal outside the home.
Pedro Braga, owner of the restaurant, says that, in the restaurant industry, "most of the new rules and the new precautions that are talked about" were already part of the daily life of workers in this sector. "We are talking about things that we used to do four times and now we do six, that’s it", stresses the restaurant owner.
In addition to the recommended physical distance between tables, the cleaning and disinfecting the spaces before and after the customers use them, the provision of hand gel at the entrance and wearing a compulsory face mask by customers and employees when moving around in the establishment, the restaurant went one step further and has menus accessible by scanning a QR code, as well as a paper bag, provided to the customers at the entrance, so that customers can put their face masks when sitting at the table. Measures that, guarantees Pedro Braga, make a difference and enable customers to feel safer.
At the traditional Portuguese products shop Enaltece Sabor, based in Rua do Almada since 2014, the measures adopted began even before the National State of Emergency was declared.
Lígia Silva, an employee of the establishment, says that as soon as they became aware of the first cases of novel coronavirus infections in the country, they immediately decided to adopt wearing a face mask and gloves when serving a customer, something that people "at the time thought a little strange", but now we notice that "they value" and that this makes them "have more confidence".
In addition to the hand sanitizer at the entrance, the recommended physical distance inside the store and the proper disinfection of the space between customers, Lígia Silva also mentions that they increased the use of disposable cups and plates, as well as the payment with MB Way to avoid handling cash.
With the focus of the business aimed towards tourism, the employee says that these types of customers have not yet been able to get back, but that local customers begin to appear gradually.
"At the beginning, we noticed that people were afraid to come here or stayed outside a lot", but "now we see customers more at ease", explains Lígia Silva, who, guarantees that the measures adopted have contributed to customers to appear and feel more comfortable.
We continue to Rua Trindade Coelho, where we find the Tatuaggi shoe store.
At the entrance, we immediately see the hand sanitizing gel as well as disposable gloves.
In this shoe store, just next to the busy Rua das Flores, only two customers are allowed at a time and disposable gloves and socks are available, in case the customer wants to touch or try on an article.
Susana Leal is the store manager and believes that there is "a very high awareness" and that "people are really concerned with that" of "not wanting to transmit and also not wanting someone to transmit the virus to them".
In the Parish of Santo Ildefonso, the clothing store Prassa, in Rua de Sá da Bandeira, in addition to the hand gel at the entrance and the lines on the floor so that customers wait for their turn with the recommended distance, the space also has an occupancy limited to five people and all regularly-touched areas are properly cleaned after each customer leaves. Also the clothing articles, as soon as they are tried on, are taken to another division of the store where they are quarantined for 48 hours and, subsequently, they are ironed at high temperatures before getting back to their places in the store's display stands.
Nuno Praça, manager of the ready-to-wear shop, says that customers have been following the rules and that "they have been appearing gradually since the reopening" to do some shopping.
Strongly affected by the pandemic, the city's shops now show that it is possible to return to normal in a responsible way and learn to deal with the virus through preventive behaviours on the part of retailers and customers, which have allowed them to recover the feeling of safety and confidence, bringing life to the streets of the city of Porto.