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Rules

Six months after the first Covid case was detected in Portugal, a new set of coronavirus related rules is underway as from September 15, when the entire country will most likely return to a State of Calamity, leaving the lighter State of Alert, in place since June.

The decision is taken because of the significant changes this month with the holidays over and an expected increase in the use of public transport, inevitable with people returning to work and children to school.

Until now, only in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley the State of Calamity prevailed with tighter rules than throughout the rest of the country in terms of how many people can meet in a group and business opening times.

Referring to the arrival of colder weather in the autumn, the Minister for the Presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva declared: ‘What we have been seeing is an increase in the number of corona cases, both in our country and in the countries around us. The government cannot remain indifferent to this increase.’

In practise this means continuation of the general measures of the Alert State – physical distance, hand hygiene and the use of masks in public services and transport.
In addition the rules of the State of Calamity are going to apply across the entire country, such as closing at 8 pm of commercial establishments (supermarkets at 10 pm), fuel supply, clinics, offices, pharmacies and funeral homes; prohibition on selling alcohol at service stations and gatherings limited to 10 people.

Immigrants, including asylum seekers, with pending applications at the borders agency SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) and whose legislation has been held up by the pandemic, will see their rights extended until March 2021, granting them full access to the National Health Service, welfare benefits and rental contracts.

In the meantime, the Banco Alimentar contra Fome (Food Bank) – the NGO that feeds people who cannot feed themselves – reported that the pandemic has seen demand on its services increase with at least 60,000 (from 380,000 to 440,000).

Stay healthy                 Fique saudável                        (pic público/economist)











Release

‘As long as there is Covid , there will be no normal life’  (António Costa)

Portugal’s State of Emergency has changed into a State of Calamity as from the beginning of May and with approximately 100 deaths per million inhabitants.

This implicates that ‘the future depends on the efforts of every single citizen to make a success of the country’s return into the world of business’, according to prime minister António Costa.
In other words, social distancing and hand hygiene should remain in place.

Contrary to other European countries, Portugal rejects contact tracing. Both the president and the prime minister consider the measure to start putting citizens under permanent increased surveillance ‘unconstitutional’.

The release began on the 4th of May with the reopening of small local commerce (including opticians and dentists), bookshops, libraries, driving schools, hairdressers, beauty salons, public services and transport. All required special measures, in particular the use of masks. Not wearing one in public transport may be fined with 350 euros.

Without a spike in the number of infections, it was decided on May 18 to reopen restaurants, cafés and pastelarias (all running at 50% capacity), terraces, museums, art galleries, shops of up to 400 sq m, schools for 11th and 12th-year pupils taking national exams (with pupils and teachers wearing masks) and creches (as yet on a voluntary basis).

Other details of the State of Calamity involve a restriction on gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, funerals involving family members only (without restrictions on the number) and teleworking to be continued until June 1. The end of restrictions on ‘religious gatherings’ and resumption of the Premier Football League (without public) are scheduled for the final weekend of May.

The official beach season will start on June 6 although the country is set for a spring heatwave at the end of May. A ‘traffic-light system’ is being rolled out as a way of avoiding ‘militarised order’ on the more popular beaches Costa da Caparica, Cascais, Oeiras, Carcavelos and in the Algarve . The idea is that beachgoers adhere to the traffic lights or lose access to the beach altogether.

Sunshades (for max five persons and to be rented for half a day) have to be placed three metres from each other, the general 1.5 meter distance rule has to be respected at all times and masks are mandatory when entering beach restaurants and bars. Moreover, a new mobile phone app will carry information on supervised beaches, allowing beachgoers to plan ahead.


Stay healthy                          Fique saudável             (pic Público/Sapo)