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News from afpop - Friday 6th of May 2022

Michael Reeve - 06-05-2022

News from afpop - Friday 6th of May 2022

Included in this briefing: 1. Situation of Alert 2. Travel 3. 2nd Booster dose 4. Free tests 5. Autovoucher 6. Visiting hospitals 7. Health counselling service in English 8. SEF appointments for EU citizens 9. Satellite offices

Good afternoon and unusually my introduction is in two parts this week. First for everyone and then secondly for our UK Members, as you will see in a moment.
 
In the briefing this week we have news about the Alert situation, which has been extended once again until the end of the month, and also confirmation about the 2nd booster jab, although there will be more news in the coming months on that for sure. Also there is news about SEF appointments for renewing EU Residências, although this doesn’t apply to UK residents. I also wanted to give advance notice that the afpop office will be closed on the afternoon of Friday 27th May, as we are invited to attend the presentation of the British Empire Medal to our former council President, Chris Ireland, more of which you will see in the June edition of UPDATE.
 
Now, if you are not a UK Member you might want to skip the next part and go down to the Briefing proper, as I have some thoughts for UK citizens on the use of e-gates when travelling between UK and Portugal.
 
In last week’s Briefing I included comments from a UK Member about the e-gates in Lisbon and the fact that her passport wasn’t stamped subsequent to passing through the electronic reader, as she produced her Residência and was accepted as a resident by the border control office. This is how the system is operating, (although not yet operational in Faro as there is a staff shortage) however – sadly there IS a ‘however’ – it is also true that the e-gate does in fact register the entry of the passport holder into Portugal on the immigration database and this is where the problems might lie. It is not clear at this time what exactly that information is used for, but it is a fact that the entry of the passport holder is registered and clearly an e-gate doesn’t know whether you are resident or a tourist. It is also not clear whether that record is only on the Portuguese system or if it is linked to a wider EU control. This can potentially cause a problem for those residents who use the e-gate, as that will intitate a 90/180 day countdown and you might then find if you travel back and forth, or if you want to go to another from the UK to another Schengen country for a holiday for example, the system might reject your access if it considers that you are exceeding the 90 days you are allowed to travel in the Schengen area.
 
I’m in contact with the Embassy about this and the good news is that they have a meeting with SEF officials in Lisbon airport at the end of next week and the person responsible for the e-gate system will also be there. My questions about this will be included in the meeting and hopefully thereafter we will have clarity about how the e-gates work in relation to residents in the EU countries who are entitled to travel between the UK and their country of residence.
 
In the meantime my personal suggestion, not the afpop guidance, on this is to consider whether you want to use the e-gates or queue up at passport control. I have to come back to Portugal from a trip at the end of May and I will not use the e-gates. Of course the choice is yours, my only intention in writing this is to make sure you’re aware of the potential issue so you can make an informed decision. The Embassy will be confirming the situation to us after their meeting next week, but probably not in time for next week’s Briefing.
 
For now though, I invite you to join up with our non-UK Members and enjoy this week’s Briefing.  
 
Situation of Alert
The Situation of Alert throughout mainland Portugal has been prolonged until 23h59 on the 31st of May 2022 and remains unaltered, you can find the latest information here: https://afpop.com/en/afpop-latest-news-1?aid=187&bx=1
 
More about the measures in Madeira you can find here: https://www.madeira.gov.pt/Covid19
 
Measures for Açores you will find here: https://destinoseguro.azores.gov.pt/?page_id=11386
 
Travel
A reminder that the restrictions on entering Portugal for essential or non-essential reasons have been lifted and all passengers are authorised to enter Portugal Mainland. Please find all the information here: https://afpop.com/en/afpop-latest-news-1?aid=188&bx=1
 
2nd Booster dose
The Minister of Health has announced that people over 80 will receive a 2nd booster dose of the COVID vaccine from the end of August or the beginning of September, however for those people with immune fragility, the 2nd booster dose is already being given with a medical prescription.
 
Free tests
It is now confirmed that the 2 free monthly rapid antigen tests (TRAg) which are carried out in pharmacies and laboratories will no longer continue.
 
Autovoucher
As suspected the Autovoucher system, which gave a €20 benefit to compensate for the fuel price has ended, due to the ISP (tax) reduction that the government has implemented on certain fuel and diesel types as of the 2nd of May.
 
Visiting hospitals
The DGS confirmed in an updated guideline, that visits to patients admitted to hospitals are no longer subject to the presentation of a digital certificate or a negative test for COVID.
The number of visitors per hospitalised patient is adjusted to ensure compliance with the defined infection prevention and control measures. The DGS recommends that visitors do not use the hospitalised sanitary facilities and do not deliver personal objects, food or other products without prior authorisation.
Visitors must inform the health facility where they visited if in the following 48 hours they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID or present a positive result for SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory test.
Remember a mask is required to visit people in health establishments and care homes.
 
Madeira will maintain the mandatory digital certificate or negative test for COVID for visits to hospitals, the Secretary of Health said, stressing that the new national guideline does not apply to the archipelago.
 
Health Counselling service in English
The psychological counselling service which is included in the SNS telephone line 24 (808 24 24 24) is now also available in English. The service is intended to also respond to non-Portuguese speakers who have symptoms of anxiety and depression.
 
SEF appointments for EU citizens
We know many Members have been trying to book appointments with SEF to renew their EU Residências. SEF just announced they have opened 12.240 slots for appointments to renew your EU-Residência. If you do not already have a password to the SEF website, you need to register first on the SEF website www.sef.pt (Click Log-in and registe-se), and once you have successfully logged in, you can go to “Agendamentos”, then “Novo agendamento” and then follow the steps to choose a date and a time for an appointment. Remember that EU-Residências cannot be renewed online, you must book an appointment to go in person.
Note: This does not apply for UK Citizens, who must wait for the Article 50 roll out to continue.
 
Satellite offices
The Satellite Office in Almancil will be on Tuesday 31st of May in the MEDAL office. The Satellite will be open between 10h00 and 12h30 for Members who would like to speak with a staff member in person. There is a coffee shop across the road from the MEDAL office if the reception area is full when you arrive.
 
The Satellite Office in Lagos will be on Thursday 26th of May between 10h00 and 12h30 at the premises of MediLagos on R. José Ferreira Canelas, which is behind the Câmara building.
 
As the offices have limited waiting space, please reserve a time in advance and we ask that you arrive promptly to avoid congestion.
 
Please send an e-mail to the afpop office info@afpop.com to reserve an appointment.

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