The capacity of the municipal cemetery of Braga has been conditioned since this Monday to 250 people simultaneously, a measure imposed by the Braga Chamber that is in force until the 6th of November.
This condition is part of the restrictive measures of the municipality to try to contain the high number of contagions of the covid-19 disease recorded over the past three weeks.
Each person can only be inside the cemetery for a maximum of one hour, with the obligation to use a mask, and the municipality will provide its own means to ensure that the rules are maintained.
MINHO was about 50 meters from the cemetery, in Monte de Arcos, to listen to the flower merchants who are located in that space on stands throughout the year.
Most think that the cemetery is able to receive more people at the same time, but there are those who think it would be better not to open it.
“The cemetery is equivalent to four stadiums in Braga”
António Braga, 74, is already a dean in the business. With a stand open for 45 years, already “from the time of his mother-in-law”, the Braga resident in Cividade thinks that there should not even be restrictions, pointing out that the cemetery is equivalent to “four stadiums in Braga”.
“We were off for two months and this was a good time for us to be able to chase the loss, but they decided to limit the entries and this will only harm us because people are not going to come to the queue as they once did,” said the trader.
On May 5th, the cemetery reopened after almost two months closed due to the pandemic, but the maximum capacity was 20 people and there were endless lines at the door of that municipal equipment, as reported by our newspaper.
António complains of lack of support, although the municipality has ‘forgiven’ three months of income [cada stand paga 260 euros mensais]. But the trader says that it is not enough, since they lost all the flowers they had ordered at the time and still had to pay for the water, “about 40 euros a month”, he points out.
“We had a lot of damage and almost no help. We have not received anything from the Government even though we have already requested it. They also said from the Chamber that they were going to give some financial aid but they still haven’t said anything ”, he laments.
António confesses that he has been selling “something” in the last few days, but “not even half” of what he sold in other years.
“This year I ordered less than half of the flowers, because in addition to the virus, there was also the rain and people don’t show up to buy,” he says. “It is worth the arrangements that people can buy now and that hold up well until All Saints Day”, he assures.
“I think there could be 500 people at a time”
Pedro Duarte, at the stand next to António, agrees that the limitation to 250 people is “exaggerated”. Family member of the owner, complains of “less affluence” and, consequently, “less sales” over the past few days, when compared to previous years.
“I think that instead of 250 people, they could be 500 at ease, and that would make more people come, because they knew they were not coming to stand in lines”, he assures.
Pedro already sells for All Saints’ Day, but “it’s not much”. “We thought that people would anticipate the purchase of flowers because of the pandemic, but that hasn’t been seen much, people are not coming,” he points out.
The trader says he is satisfied with the support of the Chamber in relation to the three months of ‘forgiveness’ of income, but that alone is not enough to maintain the business.
“People are afraid of the virus, it is normal, but the cemetery is outdoors, there is more security than in other spaces where they let more people in”, he highlights.
Pedro even gives an example of the Braga Parque shopping center, where more than a thousand people can circulate inside simultaneously.
“Braga Parque is a closed place and is always full of people while the cemetery is outdoors and people are able to distance themselves better”, he asserts.
Pedro also complains about the cemeteries closed in several parishes in the municipality. “In the parishes, many cemeteries are closing between October 31 and November 2, and that also hurts us because people came here to buy flowers,” he explains.
About government support, Pedro says they are illusions. “They are supportive and we don’t have to pay now, but we will have to pay later, so I don’t think it’s even worth asking for anything,” he confesses.
Regarding the virus, the merchant is aware that if people use a mask and disinfectant while keeping their distance, there would not even be limitations in the cemetery. “In a little while, we can’t leave the house”, he concludes.
“Limitation of circulating between municipalities will damage the business”
Cláudia Faria, another flower merchant, agrees with the 250-person capacity at the cemetery, but points out a new difficulty that colleagues did not mention: the limitation of movement between municipalities on the weekend of the Finados.
“I agree with the limitation of people inside the cemetery because if they did not exist, surely people would accumulate there and increase the contagions”, he begins by saying.
However, he thinks that limiting circulation between municipalities is not a useful measure, “because people came from all sides, from Famalicão, Trofa, Vila Verde, and even Vila Real, to buy flowers”.
Cláudia explains that some of these clients, who have already come in other years, “are not showing up”. They were loyal customers and this year they will not come because they cannot leave the municipality and the justification that they are going to buy flowers is not reaped by the authorities.
The merchant says that some of these customers have family members in the Braga cemetery and used the Day of the Dead to pay a visit. Others of these customers came to Braga to buy the flowers to take to the cemeteries where they live, outside Braga.
The drops are 50% in sales, so far, but Cláudia thinks they will go down more in the coming days. “I have noticed that some people have anticipated and bought flowers before the usual days, for fear of crowds”, he reinforces.
“We are selling 50% less than usual, but this has been happening since the beginning of the pandemic, not just now. We were counting on Santos FC to recover a little during these difficult months ”, he laments.
An order signed by councilwoman Olga Pereira, of the Braga Chamber, limited access to the Monte de Arcos cemetery to 250 people simultaneously. The measure went into effect on Monday and ends only on the 6th of November.
Due to the weekend of the Dead (Day of the Dead and All Saints’ Day), the Government decided on a resolution, approved by the Council of Ministers and published this Monday in Diário da República, which obliges citizens to remain in their residence councils between 00:00 on October 30 until 06:00 on November 03, in order to stop contagions of covid-19, especially in the North, as the Minister of State and Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva.
In the last balance, 74 deaths were registered, a number that has remained the same since June 16.