Portugal celebrates 'carnation revolution' with little social distancing

Sergio Goncalves and Miguel Pereira
·1-min read
People walk in central Porto as shops are allowed to reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Sergio Goncalves and Miguel Pereira

LISBON (Reuters) - Marches to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution that ended Portugal's 47-year dictatorship returned to the streets on Sunday with more people and less social distancing than expected.

Marches were cancelled last year because of the risk of spreading COVID-19, but this year health authorities allowed them to go ahead, with limits on numbers of people and social distancing rules in place.

Each year, the marches usually attract hundreds of thousands of people carrying carnations and shouting "April 25 always. Fascism never again!". People celebrate the revolution that began on April 25, 1974 and ended the authoritarian government of Antonio Oliveira Salazar.

Despite a limit of 1,000 participants, a few thousand more lined the route of the march on Lisbon's Avenida da Liberdade on Sunday, making social distancing difficult.

"We are many, many thousands to continue April," the crowd shouted.

Helena Martins, 50, praised the march because "it makes perfect sense for the people to return to the streets again to defend the values of April".

Still, Vergilio Manuel, 71, said that "there should have been more social distancing". He added: "I have already been to other marches, such as the 1st of May, and it went well. There has to be a very strong organisation, otherwise things can go wrong".

Portugal, which imposed a lockdown in January to curb what was then the world's worst COVID-19 surge, started lifting restrictions in March and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and cafe terraces, museums and hair salons.

(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves and Miguel Pereira; Editing by Gareth Jones and Frances Kerry)