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News from afpop - Friday 12th March 2021 update

NFA - 15-03-2021

News from afpop - Friday 12th March 2021 update

Included in this briefing: • Prime Minister's comments • General rules • What's changed from 15th March • Next phases • Covid map--As nossas desculpas por este artigo não ter tradução --

I hope you are all well and keeping safe. As always if English or German are not your first language and you need clarification on any of the information included in this mailing, please contact the afpop office to ask for assistance.

The preamble in this briefing will be a little longer than normal, as the much anticipated plan to reopen the country has been announced by the government and as expected it outlines a phased approach, with each stage being dependant on the success of the previous one and the government has a strong message about the roll out. In his address to the country, the Prime Minister, Sr António Costa, said “The extraordinary effort over the course of the last two months has allowed us to reach today, as planned, the moment when, safely, we can speak of the plan for the progressive reopening of Portuguese society" although he also stressed “we have to do it with great caution, because if today we are much better than two weeks ago, we are still in a worse situation than the one we were in on September 11th, when we declared the first state of contingency, and 4 May 2020, when we started the first deflation.”

Continuing, Sr Costa said “We can start opening safely. Opening must be prudent, cautious, gradual, drop by drop. Until Easter, we keep the general duty of confinement as the one that is already in force, maintaining the ban on movement between municipalities in the coming weekends and also in the week before Easter, between 26 March and 5 April, to ensure that Easter is not a time for traveling and meeting, but another moment of confinement.”

“What we are going to assess every 15 days is how the situation evolves. If it moves downwards, the risk of infection is decreasing and we can be comfortable with the measures we have taken and even think about extending them. If it evolves towards a higher rate of transmissibility, we will have to take precautionary measures to prevent the situation from deteriorating; also, if we evolve to a greater number of cases, it means that the situation is deteriorating and we have to take action.”

"What will happen from now on, as from the first day of the pandemic, depends on all of us: on how we maintain individual discipline on the use of the mask, on hand hygiene," he said, adding that, "otherwise, not only will we not be able to continue to reopen society, but we can re-enter the risk areas where we have to stop our evolution, or reach the red area where we have to go backwards.”

I don’t usually include so much of what the Prime Minister or President say in their addresses, but I thought it important on this occasion because it gives a clear indication, if one were needed, of the government’s intention to aggressively monitor the situation regarding reopening, confirming that they will indeed stop the process if they feel that the situation reverts or if they feel that the rules are not being adhered to. In his address, Sr Costa was very strong in his words of praise for the reaction of the country to the restrictions imposed, but he gave a clear warning that this is not an opportunity for people to let down their guard or think that reopening is a formality.

That being said, what is the plan? It is in four phases and I’ve given a lot of thought about how much to include in this briefing. Of course you will probably be seeing in the press exactly what has been announced, but I’ve decided that in keeping with the ethos behind these briefings I will stick to what is actually confirmed, rather than include what might happen in subsequent phases. As the Prime Minister has pointed out very strongly that each phase is dependant on the success of the previous one, I will address future phases as and when they are confirmed by the government.

From Monday 15th March, the general rules are:

1. Teleworking should continue whenever possible;

2. Opening hours of establishments: 21h00 during the week; 13h00 on weekends and holidays or 19h00 for food retail;

3. Prohibition of movement between municipalities on 20 and 21 March and in the Easter period (between 26 March and 5 April).

NOTE: In his address the Prime Minister said that essentially the rules regarding confinement, i.e. the requirement to stay indoors as much as possible, remains in force, together with masks, social distancing and hand washing. However the parks, green spaces etc have now been opened as you will see below, as well as hairdressers, retail outlets for collecting purchases etc. This obviously leads to some confusion and I can only advise that still, wherever possible the government’s advice is to stay indoors unless necessary and not to assume that the opening of these spaces and businesses is an indication that the rules on confinement are no longer in force. Confusing I know, but without explicit guidance on this, of which there is none in the statement, my advice is to continue to observe the State of Emergency regulations regarding unnecessary movement outside the home except for trips to the outlets included below and for exercise purposes.

Restrictions are eased or removed in the following circumstances:
 
  • Establishments selling non-essential goods may open, providing their services are exclusively through home delivery or for collection at the door of the establishment, or through a collection service for products previously purchased through remote media (click and collect)
  • Non-food retail and service provision activities in stores are to close at 21h00 on working days and at 13h00 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Food retailers are to close at 21h00 on weekdays and at 19h00 on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays;
  • The pharmacies' rules are also applied to establishments selling non-prescription drugs;
  • Hairdressing salons, manicurists and the like are permitted by prior appointment and parks, gardens, green spaces and leisure spaces and libraries may open;
  • Establishments that sell books and musical supports may open;
  • Fairs and markets may be held, with the authorisation of the mayor of the municipality;
  • On-site educational and teaching activities in pre-school education and the 1st cycle of basic education, as well as day care centres, family day care centres and childminders.

From 5th April:
The next phase is scheduled to begin on 5th April and includes restaurants, museums and further relaxations on businesses, but as these are reliant on the success of the first phase and will only be confirmed by the government in two weeks, we will report on them fully in a future briefing.

The scheduled dates for future phases are April 19th and May 3rd

The islands: The links below will take you to the Covid pages for the islands.

Madeira: https://www.madeira.gov.pt/Covid19/DecisoesExcecionaisCovid19

Azores: https://portal.azores.gov.pt/en/web/comunicacao/news-detail?id=2621765

Covid across Portugal:
In this link you can see the current infection situation in Portugal. The website is in Portuguese and you can select the latest report each time it is updated by the government.

Until next time as always my best wishes to you all and please continue to stay safe.

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