Portuguese Government advice regarding COVID-19
Michael Reeve - 16-03-2020
Portuguese Government advice regarding COVID-19
As you may now know the Portuguese government, national and local, are taking steps to address the spread of Corona virus. Some of the measures have been ordered by the government and some are being advised by them and your local councils. So what does it mean to you. Well first of all hospitals and medical centres stay open and extra resources are being called up for the Bombeiros and Civil Protection agency. Other agencies, such as SEF, the courts, IMT and some council departments are either being closed or having a restriction on the number of people that can be in their offices. Any document that you have that is expiring will still be valid and no fines or other sanctions will be incurred if you are unable to replace them before they expire. This includes temporary Driving Licences, which will remain valid for the period of these measures. More news will follow on this in due course Im sure, but for now you should be confident that your documents remain valid.
Many of the measures announced refer to bureaucratic and financial measures for businesses and education establishments, but of course there are steps to be taken by citizens and some new temporary restrictions, including a prohibition on people disembarking from cruise ships unless they live in Portugal. At the moment there are no restrictions on the airports, but people are having their temperatures checked on arrival and may be asked some medical questions, but at the moments flights, except to the United States, appear to remain unaffected.
Discos and night clubs are closed and other establishments such as restaurants and bars have been instructed to reduce their capacity by one third. Shops in Portimão, and most likely other areas too, are being advised to have no more than 10 customers in them at one time and people are being advised to cancel or postpone meetings where possible, although these are not banned at the moment. People are however being asked to reduce their social interaction and those people with children under 12 years of age who have to stay at home to look after them can claim exceptional financial support from the government. Any person who is forced to stay off work through illness contracted from Coronavirus will be entitled to receive 100% of their salary from social security, provided they are declared unfit by a doctor. You should make sure that you have steps in place to obtain any medications that you need in plenty of time. Pharmacies remain open but the same restrictions on people in them will apply.
There is no actual restriction on outdoor activities; walks, golf, tennis, etc, but they are not advised and if you do venture out the recommendation is that a distance of at least a metre between people is maintained.
We have all heard of course about washing hands and reducing physical contact with others, in fact already people are refusing to shake hands as a greeting and the cheek kissing has stopped. Below is a translation of part of the prime minister’s advice to citizens, in which he calls for people to be alert and adopt common sense measures. We have translated it verbatim so as not to alter the tone of his message.
Between hysteria and ambivalence is the middle ground. Let us all be responsible. We live in society and we have a duty to be responsible to ourselves and to others. The negligence with which we are facing this can cost lives. It is better to be called exaggerated in care than negligent. We all have parents, children, family and friends in risk groups. Let's be careful. The disease can be fatal but so is the lack of medical care and if this takes on proportions like in Italy, there will be neither enough medicines nor enough medical facilities to provide the necessary assistance. Protect yourself and protect others. The aim is to get out of this with the least possible impact.
Let us be exemplary in complying with the measures decided by the local authorities and the Portuguese Government ... Make "true" social isolation, avoid EVEN parks, shopping centres, beaches and other public places ... go only to places that are REALLY necessary. Decide between family which family member should do this (decreasing the number of people on the streets…).
For people wishing to report any health problems they can contact the SNS health line 808 24 24 24, which is available in Portuguese and English.
The afpop office remains open but Members may be asked to wait outside if there are too many in the reception area. The phone and e-mail services of course remain unaffected, except for any delay caused by increased usage. The Management Council will be taking a decision about the AGM on the 28th March and whether to go ahead or postpone it and we will send that advice to Members next week.