Information: if you have already read this article, scroll down to the section “Coronavírus (Covid-19) in Portugal: current situation” to get the latest updates.

I would like not to have to write this article, but instead talk about the wonders of Portugal or give you travel advices, but we are experiencing a dramatic situation (which my generation and my parents’ never knew), which makes it impossible to continue our lives as if nothing is happening…

The virus has taken over Europe with incredible force and our continent has become the epicentre of this war.

When I wrote this article, we had not yet reached the peak of contamination (expected for April), meaning that the worst is yet to come.

I know that we were told from the beginning that this virus is just a flu, but the consequences will be much worse than the seasonal flu…

Although 80% of the population who contract coronavirus (covid-19) have only mild symptoms (fever, cough) as if it was a flu, it is likely that more severe cases will die from the virus, lack of vacancies in hospitals and equipment (for example, medical ventilators).

To get an idea of ​​the problem, there are on average 2.7 hospital beds per 1000 inhabitants in the USA and 2.5 in the UK (there are 3 hospital beds per 1000 inhabitants in Portugal) and that number decreases a little more when it comes to intensive care.

There will be more and more serious cases and, if we do nothing, doctors will have to choose between those they treat and those who have to die (that’s what happened in Italy…).

The purpose of the measures taken by our governments is to avoid a large number of cases at once, so that the peak of cases is as low as possible and that time is saved until temperatures start to rise (hoping that this virus becomes similar to that of seasonal flu) and that a vaccine for Covid-19 is found.

For the first time, we, Europeans, must be responsible and disciplined so that this crisis lasts as little as possible.

According to some scientists, the peak of the pandemic will occur between mid and late April (at least in Portugal), but these predictions are only valid if we follow the instructions!

At best, this situation will last until May and may continue if we don’t change our habits. Even if you are not afraid of this virus, think of fragile people like your parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts.

In addition to this health crisis, if you hesitate to follow the instructions and think about your work or your company, because this will be prolonged, then we will face a crisis never seen before!

To track coronavirus statistics by country, click here.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Portugal: current situation

I will put the instructions of the Portuguese government below and, whenever they change, I’ll update them.

Add this article to your favourites so that you get the latest information about the progress of this pandemic in Portugal.

Saturday, April 4, 2020: extension of the state of emergency + more stringent measures

Last Thursday, the President of the Portuguese Republic extended the state of emergency in Portugal for the next 15 days (3 to 17 April) and gave the government even more important powers, such as price regulation, to fight speculation.

Next, discover the new rules of life in Portugal until April 17th:

Mandatory confinement at home or in a health facility of any person infected by covid-19 or SARS-Cov2, as well as by suspicious persons. Failure to comply with this confinement will be considered a crime of disobedience.

People over 70 should stay at home as long as possible and leave only when absolutely necessary (buying food, solving health problems, going to the bank, post office, insurance company or taking the pet to the street). This rule does not apply to people working in the health sector, security forces, politicians and magistrates.

Everyone else can leave their homes, but they must have a valid justification. Tourism, going to the beach, obviously, are not things we can do.

Easter period: between April 9th ​​and 13th, across the country, it is forbidden to leave your municipality of residence, except to go to work or for health reasons. During those 5 days, to leave your municipality of residence, you will need a statement from your employer. Portuguese airports will be closed for commercial flights.

All companies open to the public must comply with strict rules in order to receive customers (limiting the number of customers within the establishment, a minimum distance of 2 metres between each person and disinfecting everything that is affected by customers, such as cash registers, payment terminals etc.).

Personal testimony: even if this rule was already present in the other decrees, it was only as of yesterday (Friday, April 3) that companies began to apply these rules to the letter. When I went shopping, I saw that change.

One must wait outside the establishment at a distance of at least 1 metre and enter only when a person leaves; the cash registers are cleaned frequently, the payment terminals are cleaned between each customer, there are markings on the floor to maintain the mandatory distance between each person and the teller operators have, finally, protection equipment.

I think it is unfortunate that it took 15 days to apply these rules, which were already recommended when the state of emergency was declared in March. This proves that a minority of people / companies act only if they are forced to do so by law…

In addition to the Easter period, the municipality of Ovar, near Aveiro, and all municipalities of São Miguel in the Azores are in mandatory confinement, which means that people can only enter or leave only in cases of absolute need (work, health reasons, etc.).

To complete this update, I would like to inform you that there are currently (Saturday, April 4th) 10.524 people affected by the coronavirus (confirmed cases), 266 people have died, 75 people have recovered and more than 80.000 people are suspected of being infected with the virus.

Monday, March 30, 2020: Portugal surpasses the symbolic number of 100 deaths due to coronavirus

This weekend, Portugal crossed the symbolic barrier of 100 deaths (140 when I wrote these lines) as a result of an infection by covid-19. This number may seem insignificant, especially when compared to our neighbouring country, but we must not forget that there are only 10 million inhabitants in Portugal.

If Portugal had the same number of inhabitants as France, for example, the number of deaths would be around 840. Looking at the number of deaths in France (2606 – at the time I wrote these lines), we can say that the situation in Portugal is much better, except that the health crisis started much earlier in France (first case of covid-19 on January 23) than in Portugal (first case on March 1).

All this to say that the situation will worsen in the coming days and that the peak of the pandemic in Portugal will not arrive until May (the Portuguese government even predicts the peak towards the end of May).

The seriousness of the situation was understood by the vast majority of the Portuguese population, but some still do not want to understand the danger of their actions…

Even though the whole population seems to be staying at home, the reality is different. Many people still have family meals (I mean with the family that doesn’t live with us), there is even a kind of exodus from part of the population towards the interior of the country (the best thing to do to spread viruses to an elderly population) to be supposedly “safe” or simply to use secondary housing, larger than the city apartments.

To limit this phenomenon, the police carried out routine checks last Saturday on all vehicles that wanted to leave Lisbon towards the south of the country, crossing the 25 de Abril bridge, as well as on the main road (A1) that connects Lisbon to Porto.

The police forced many drivers to turn around and only allowed to proceed those who had valid justifications.

For now, Portugal relies on the goodwill of the population to follow the government’s advice, but if this phenomenon continues, there is a good chance that we will have to adopt much stricter rules as in other European countries (Spain, France, Italy).

Personal opinion: with the pandemic peaking late (which is perfect for not overwhelming hospitals), the health crisis can last for many months. After getting the latest update, I don’t think the situation will improve until June 15 (I sincerely hope I’m wrong…).

When the pandemic peak is reached and states start to soften the rules of life, we will have to control the virus so that a second wave doesn’t come a few weeks later and we have to be in social distancing again (which would be disastrous in terms of health but also for the economy of each country).

In my opinion, after this first social distancing, we will have to get used to new rules of community life. Everyone will have to wear masks (yes, masks are useful to contain the virus, as long as the entire population is equipped), and tests should be carried out on all suspected cases to isolate positive cases from the rest of the population.

I only see these two solutions to avoid a new generalised isolation and for life to return to “normal”.

The situation is and will be difficult in the coming weeks, but let us not be overcome by this morbid atmosphere. Take advantage of this time to talk a lot with people you love (via internet or phone), read, exercise, prepare for the post-crisis and limit negative information (once a day is enough to make you aware of what is happening around you).

Let’s do our best to limit the spread of this virus. Let us do this for ourselves and for others!

Remember, our actions can kill or save lives. It is up to us to know what we want!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020: urgent message to motorhome owners

After the announcement of the measures to be applied during the state of emergency (see below what I wrote on Friday March, 20) the Portuguese government published a decree this Sunday with all the new rules of life in Portugal.

One of the measures taken is the closure of all campsites and motorhome parks. Since Monday 23, campsites and motorhome parks have been prohibited from welcoming new people and all those who are there must leave until Friday March 27, the latest.

The only exception are people who have a permanent residence (declared before the state of emergency) in one of these campsites and who have no other place to live.

Motorhome owners have 3 options:

Leave with their motorhome to their country of origin (Spain, France, United Kingdom, etc.). If choose this option, before leaving, fill up, buy essential goods in a supermarket near where you are and drive safe while respecting social distancing. The British government wrote this article that you should read for further information.

Leave their motorhome in Portugal and return by plane. If you choose this option, I suggest you contact the local authorities (Town Hall or the police – GNR or PSP) where you are located to find out where you can leave your motorhome. Also, contact the embassy of your country located in Portugal so they can help you.

Stay in Portugal. There are many people who have decided to stay in Portugal, because the situation is better (when I wrote these lines) than in other countries, or because they do not wish to drive for many hours (often more than 16 hours driving) to reach their home country, to cross Spain in the current situation, or even to leave their motorhome in Portugal.

For all those who stay in Portugal, I suggest you rent a house (you can do your research on Booking.com or on Airbnb) or a private property (see below) where you can park your motorhome for the next 2 months.

Above all, do not go wild camping (don’t park your motorhome in unauthorised places), because the authorities will start to act (as in neighbouring countries) as soon as the situation gets worse.

In this delicate situation, and so that the situation does not become even more complicated, I suggest you remain calm, choose the best solution for your situation and above all, follow the instructions of the Portuguese authorities.

To help motorhome owners who have nowhere to go in this difficult situation, the YouTube channel Voyage à Plein Temps has decided to create a solidarity map where those who have available land can offer it to people in difficulty.

Currently, the majority of aid offers are in France, but I sincerely hope that there will be people in Portugal who can help motorhome owners who have nowhere to go.

To help, or ask for help, click here.

Friday, March 20, 2020: upholding the state of emergency

After the declaration of the state of emergency, on Wednesday, by the President of the Republic, yesterday at the end of the day, the Prime Minister defined the new rules of life in Portugal for the next days:

  • Anyone who has tested positive for covid-19 or is under surveillance is now in mandatory quarantine (at home or in the hospital). Failure to comply with the quarantine is considered a crime of disobedience.
  • All people who do not show symptoms are not required to be quarantined, but should stay as long as possible at home and leave only when necessary (to work, to go shopping, going to the pharmacy, taking the pet to the street), respecting social distancing (minimum distance of 1 metre between each person). In this first phase, the government did not want to force the population to enter mandatory quarantine, because the Portuguese were voluntarily quarantined (words of the Prime Minister).
  • All public service companies will be closed (restaurants, bars, hairdressers, etc.), except bakeries, grocery stores, supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies, kiosks and all companies that sell products and offer essential services to the population, such as banks or post office.
  • Restaurants can continue to operate but only to deliver food at home or take away.
  • Shopping centres will close, but the supermarkets that are there will remain open. All non-public service companies must continue their activities normally (improving sanitary conditions to protect their employees), except in the municipalities where the state of public calamity has been decreed (this is the case of the municipality of Ovar, close to Aveiro, where several cases of covid-19 have been reported).
  • All public services will be closed to the public (civil servants will work by telecommuting). These services can be contacted by phone or the internet and, if necessary, you can make an appointment.
  • In public transportation, the number of seats will be reduced in order to respect social distancing.

In this first phase, the police will have a pedagogical role, but if the population does not follow instructions, there will be a tightening of the rules and fines!

Last minute information: starting next week, all people who arrive in Portugal will be in mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

In addition to the new rules of life mentioned above, here are the others that are still valid:

  • Closed land borders between Portugal and Spain (except for goods and border services) – if you live abroad, you can leave Portugal and return home.
  • No flights between Portuguese, Italian and Chinese airports.
  • Forbidden to disembark passengers from cruise ships.
  • Ban on alcohol consumption on the streets.
  • Closure of all schools, universities, museums.
  • All stores, supermarkets, shopping centres and pharmacies must limit the number of customers simultaneously. It will be necessary to wait at the entrance of each establishment until the number of customers decreases in order to enter.
  • While waiting to enter a company, bank, etc., a minimum space of one metre must be left between each person.
  • Public services (taxes, renewal of identity card, passport, etc.) remain open, but they only answer in case of emergency (you must make an appointment at https://eportugal.gov.pt/ or call 300 003 990 (for people) or 300 003 980 (for companies)).
  • If you have a passport, identity card, Portuguese driving license or certificate of residence in Portugal with an expiration date ending on March 9, 2020, do not renew them. They remain valid until June 30th.
  • Azores and Madeira: anyone who arrives to one of these archipelagos will be quarantined for 14 days to reduce the risk of contamination of the local population.

Important message: I still see many people facing this pandemic lightly (in Portugal and other countries), but if we are not confined at home and do not respect social distancing, we may face a possible humanitarian disaster…

After Italy, Spain is letting many patients die due to lack of hospital space and equipment. Currently, war medicine is being practised!

Let’s do everything we can to save lives, stay at home as long as possible, avoid social contact and let the authorities help us!

Do not wait until there are thousands of dead to realise the problem.

Positive message from Turismo Centro de Portugal (tourism promotion entity for Central Portugal region):

As a nurse said: applauding hospital staff every night is good, but following instructions is better!

If you have symptoms (fever, cough) that may indicate that you have covid-19, call (if you are in Portugal) 808 24 24 24.

If you have Portuguese nationality and are experiencing difficulties in returning to Portugal, send an email to explain your situation to this email address: covid19@mne.pt or call 00351 217 929 755.

If you are in Portugal and are having difficulties to return home (to your country), I suggest you contact your country’s consulate or embassy in Portugal.

Let’s do everything we can to make this event a distant memory!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020: Portugal is on state of emergency for at least 2 weeks

By the end of the day, the Portuguese President has declared the state of emergency until April 2 (can be prolonged). Today, we took another step in this war against the virus. The objective is to delay the dissemination, as far as possible, so that the Portuguese hospitals don’t get overcrowded but, above anything else, to save lives.

In the next hours, the Portuguese government will inform the Portuguese people about the new limitations in living in Portugal.

In the meantime, here are the main directives for the state of emergency:

  • The Portuguese President admits compulsive care in houses or health establishments
  • Circulation in public places is restricted
  • Possibility for civil requisition of properties, commercial and industrial facilities as well as other companies
  • Possibility for civil requisition of private and social health facilities
  • Possibility for civil requisition of public and private employees from the health sector as well civil protection, security and defence
  • the right to strike is suspended
  • the freedom of cult may be restricted

Source: SIC Noticias

Apart from these measures, the Portuguese government created a site: https://covid19estamoson.gov.pt/ to answer all the questions the Portuguese may have.

For non-Portuguese speakers, the government translated this document into 19 different languages: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1QeKaeGbajcbRHdsPvQADSIjE7VuSbHFA

Monday, March 16, 2020: Portugal is on state of alert until April 9

  • Closed land borders between Portugal and Spain (except for goods and border services) – if you live abroad, you can leave Portugal and return home.
  • No flights between Portuguese, Italian and Chinese airports.
  • Forbidden to disembark passengers from cruise ships.
  • Ban on alcohol consumption on the streets (outside bars / terraces).
  • Closure of all schools, universities, museums, bars (after 9 pm) and nightclubs.
  • Mandatory reduction of one third of customers in restaurants and terraces so that there is a social distance between customers.
  • All stores, supermarkets, shopping centres and pharmacies must limit the number of customers simultaneously. It will be necessary to wait at the entrance of each establishment until the number of customers decreases in order to enter.
  • While waiting to enter a company, bank, etc., a minimum space of one metre must be left between each person.
  • Public services (taxes, renewal of identity card, passport, etc.) remain open, but they only answer in case of emergency (you must make an appointment at https://eportugal.gov.pt/ or call 300 003 990 (for people) or 300 003 980 (for companies)).
  • If you have a passport, identity card, Portuguese driving license or certificate of residence in Portugal with an expiration date ending on March 9, 2020, do not renew them. They remain valid until June 30th.
  • Azores and Madeira: anyone who arrives to one of these archipelagos will be quarantined for 14 days to reduce the risk of contamination of the local population.

Source: Portuguese Government: https://www.portugal.gov.pt/

If you have symptoms (fever, cough) that may indicate that you have covid-19, call (if you are in Portugal) 808 24 24 24.

If you have Portuguese nationality and are experiencing difficulties in returning to Portugal, send an email to explain your situation to this email address: covid19@mne.pt or call 00351 217 929 755.

If you are in Portugal and are having difficulties to return home (to your country), I suggest you contact your country’s consulate or embassy in Portugal.

We will do everything possible to make this event a distant memory!

Be strong and be safe!

Tiago

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