When the number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed the 1,000 mark – with six reported deaths – the Portuguese Government announced the State of Emergency on March 19.

Non-essential business and schools closed. People urged to leave their houses only for food, medicines and walking the dog. Remote working from home became the rule. Restaurants locked but allowed to sell take-aways or effect home deliveries. Cultural and leisure institutions shut down. Public services reduced to the ‘essential’. Public transports at reduced capacity. Anyone entering the country from abroad to be quarantined for 14 days.

Social distancing’ and ‘protecting the elderly’ have become keywords in the fight against the new virus – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Other countries around the globe have taken similar preventive measures.

In view of the pandemic and to curb fake news, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has given the following advice:
– the new coronavirus can be transmitted in all kind of climates.
– neither cold or hot weather can kill the virus.
– all ages can be infected but the elderly are more vulnerable to severe illness.
– the virus cannot be transmitted through mosquitos.
– hand dryers, a hot bath, UV light, rinsing the nose with saline, eating garlic or taking antibiotics are not effective in killing or preventing infection.
– the best way to protect yourself is by social distancing and washing hands frequently.
– there is no medicine or vaccine available (yet).

The intention of prime minister Antonio Costa is not to close the country down – like in France – even though he has the constitutional support with this State of Emergency to do so. The government, however, will – given the developments in Spain and Italy where the death tolls are the worst in Europe – implement further restrictions if necessary.

Mantenha-se saudável          Stay healthy                (pic Lusa,Público,Reuters)


For decades a suitable location for a second runway has been studied to take the pressure off Lisbon’s congested inner-city airport.
Ota, Alcochete, Alverca and Beja have been considered over the years and subsequently rejected.

The Socialist Government of Antonio Costa is convinced that upgrading Montijo Air Force Base 6 on the south bank of Lisbon’s Tagus estuary, is the best option.
Much against the advice of engineers, climate scientists, conservationists and civic groups.

Left-wing parties – generally supporting the government – are also against it. ‘Choosing Montijo mainly satisfies the French company VINCI which purchased Portugal’s airport at a bargain price and now wants to make as much money as possible’, stated Left Bloc coordinator Catarina Martins.

In addition, the national airline TAP refuses to fly there. ‘Montijo is for companies that fly from A to B’, in other words ‘ low-cost operators’, according to TAP, that focuses on transcontinental passengers using Lisbon as a hub.
Ryanair and EasyJet are equally uninspired as they mainly carry ‘short stay’ passengers, for whom a trip into the capital from an outlying airport is ‘a waste of time.’
A further complication is, that other major companies like British Airways, Lufthansa and Emirates can’t use Montijo because the runway is 600 metres too short, increasing the probability of an accident

Moreover, at least 30.000 citizens in the Netherlands have signed a petition objecting to the ‘ecologically disastrous plan.’ It concerns the survival of Netherlands national bird – the black-tailed godwit – that returning from its winter migration from Africa to the Netherlands feeds and rests in the wetland area beside the airport site. It is estimated that between January and February around 50.000 godwits use the area.

Researchers also say birds are at risk of colliding with aircraft and will be driven away by the noise. The reaction of Secretary of State Alberto Souto de Miranda was stunning ‘people should not worry because birds are not stupid and will probably adept.’

The latest obstacle in starting construction on a 1.3 billion euro project are two Communist-led councils (Moita and Seixal) in the vicinity, which – by law – have the power to veto the plan. Even if it is supported by the government and given green light by licensing authorities. Attempts of the PS Government to persuade the largest opposition party – the centre-right PSD – to change the law accordingly, proved to be in vain.

A recent court’s ruling in the UK against the expansion of Heathrow airport – because of the British government not adequately taking into account the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – might jeopardize prime minister Costa’s plans at a global level, since with the new airport CO2 emissions will increase 700.000 tons per year.

Enjoy your day               Aproveite o dia                   
(pic Público, PtRes, Sapo)