3-20 Portugal Coronavirus Update – Rules to follow during the Coronavirus State of Emergency
**Update 3/16/20: I put together a Google Spreadsheet with projections of infections and deaths from the Cornoavirus. My numbers come directly from current reporting. I will be updating it daily. Feel free to share it.
A few nights ago Blanca while enjoying some delicious homemade ginger snap tea cookies we were watching 28 Days Later and I joked to her “I hope this virus doesn’t bring the zombie apocalypse to Portugal”. It was a jest but had an undertone of fear and for longing. I began to think about what was really going on in Portugal during the outbreak and how has everyday life been affected. I decided to write an article to gather my thoughts. Over the coming weeks, I will try and update it as new news comes in. I will speak about Portugal, but since I live in Lisbon, there will be more info about Lisbon than Porto in this post.
As of March 15, 2020, Lisbon is doing ok. People aren’t freaking out. Locals are doing exactly what they do every day, just on a smaller scale and while taking precautions. However, this varies by neighborhood.
Anywhere above Marques de Pombal, people are very cautious. People are staying off the street, starting to wear masks and plastic gloves.
Santos, Bairro Alto, and the more trendy neighborhoods are seeing more people on the streets without protection and at cafes where they are definitely being more social. From my observation, this seems to be tourists and ex-pats.
This is very different from just 5 days ago when you could still see people going to work, having drinks with friends and being more social all over town. Heck, people were thinking of COVID-19 as vacation time, the beaches were packed.
I want to be measured in this piece and give you as many facts as possible, but take what I write as hearsay. Read this piece and understand that the mindset I am putting forth is similar to when you purchase a new car. You get a new car and suddenly everyone on the road has the same car. Why is that? Because your mind is very good at attempting to make patterns out of things. You buy a red Fiat 500, everyone now is driving one. It’s a brain trick and I am seeing that here in Lisbon.
Now that I know the virus is here, I look and see every cough and respiratory masks. So again, take this as my experience and observations and not fact. I will add governmental stats on Coronavirus in Portugal with their original sources in the body. Keep in mind these may change faster than I get to update them so mind the date. If you want the most accurate information as it is updated, check the Covid19 area of the website for Portugal’s Public Health Services.
What is the Portuguese government’s reaction to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak?
As of March 9th, 2020 The Director-General of Health said in a speech that measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus in Portugal are working, but stressed that the country must be prepared for “all scenarios“, pointing out that “the pattern of disease spread” Covid-19, caused by the new coronavirus, “is different in different countries “.
Let me unpack that a bit.
How many cases of Coronavirus are there in Portugal?
Portugal is a small country of 10 million. The cases of Coronavirus in Portugal are currently clustered in Porto with a smaller number here in Lisbon. These are the numbers as of March 15 (source):
- 245 cases confirmed
- 2 recuperated
- 2271 suspected cases
- 103 cases in Porto Area
- 117 cases in Lisbon
- 448 cases confirmed
- 3 recuperated
- 2908 suspected cases
- 138 cases in Porto Area
- 142 cases in Lisbon
- 31 cases in Central Region
- 13 cases in the Algarve
- First death from Coronavirus in Portugal in Lisbon.
- 642 cases confirmed
- 3 recuperated
- 5067 suspected cases
- 289 cases in the Porto Area
- 74 cases in the Central Region
- 243 cases in Lisbon
- 2 cases in Alentejo
- 21 cases in the Algarve
- 2 deaths (It was the President of Santander bank, António Vieira Monteiro)
Is there a Coronavirus Quarantine in Portugal
The cases follow the same patterns people who visited abroad and brought the virus back. Carnaval happened throughout Europe. Some of the biggest festivities happened in Italy. People from all over Europe who celebrated the holiday in Italy came back with the bug and spread it without knowing they had it. The government of Portugal has stated they have the financial resources to deal with the pandemic and will consider a quarantine of Portugal if the coronavirus cases jump.
As of March 15, there is no quarantine, however, it could happen if Covid19 cases grow in Portugal.
What is Lisbon looking like today?
3-15-20 Portugal Coronavirus Update
- Universities and schools are closed.
- Colombo Mall is only open from 12-8 pm.
- At most supermarkets, they are letting in people only a few at a time.
- Yes, there is still toilet paper to be purchased.
- There is a limit of 100 people for any public events.
- Museums, castles, and cultural centers are closed.
- Beaches are officially closed.
- They have prohibited drinking in public on the street (so no more Pink Street or Bairro Alto)
- Discussion on closing the borders will happen on Monday 3-16.
3-16-20 Portugal Coronavirus Update
- Ministries of Health and of Home Affairs from EU member states will meet to agree upon a unified border policy.
- Spain and Portugal border will close today at 11 pm and will remain closed until after the Easter holiday (April 15). This is particularly due to a cruise ship that docked in Spain and its passengers drove to Portugal without permission.
- Social distancing is highly encouraged.
- Clubs are closed, bars must close down by 9 pm daily.
- Drinking alcohol on the streets is temporarily banned.
- Beaches are closed.
- Schools are closed.
- There will be a meeting on Wednesday to determine if the State of Emergency will be made official.
- Restaurants can stay open, but they can only be 1/3 full.
- Parking at EMEL lots is free to Portuguese residents.
- Carris buses are free. Entry and exit are to be done through the back exit. The buses will stop at all stops without the need for people to push the stop button.
- The Metro is running but points of sale that require personnel are closed. You will need to purchase your tickets from the automatic machines.
3-17 Portugal Coronavirus Update
- Cremation is being recommended for those who pass from the virus.
- The first victim died in Lisbon. 80+-year-old man.
- All borders between Portugal and Spain are officially closed.
- The Euro2020 football championship has been postponed to 2021.
- All flights into and out of Portugal are canceled in and out of the EU, except for flights to Canada and the US.
- The European Union closed borders for a minimum of 30 days to any non-essential travel.
3-18 Portuga Coronavirus Update
- The President Proposes a State of Emergency. It needs to be approved by the Assembly of the Republic.
- Antonio Costa has approved Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s petition for a state of emergency for at least 15 days. It was approved and announced at 8pm.
- People are only to go out for “justified trips” which include professional activities, getting health care, helping third parties, by supplying goods and services and for other unnamed reasons. We are waiting for more specifics on this.
What events could cause a serious outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in Portugal?
Tourists, Yup. Locals are taking the necessary precautions. A few days ago, not so much (the beaches were packed just two days ago), but now, locals are staying home. As I mentioned earlier, the only people I saw at restaurants and cafes were in the downtown area.
Blanca had to go pick up her new contact lenses at the mall, and she said it was almost a ghost town. The stores were open, but nobody was really shopping. There was no line when she got to the optician.
Right now, the only risk I am seeing is from tourists. I saw a bunch of guys drunk at a bus stop near a hotel. They had no protection whatsoever. In the Santos-o-Velho neighborhood just yesterday, the cafes were full of people having brunch, again, they were sitting next to each other, next to other tables, talking to servers and nobody was wearing any sort of protection. This is what can significantly increase the spread of the virus.
In my opinion, it is irresponsible tourism that can make this thing a whole lot worst.
Is it safe to come to Portugal at the onset of the Coronavirus?
If you are low risk, sure. You will probably be fine…But there is a HUGE caveat. Even if you don’t get sick, or if you get the virus but are not affected by it (aka – you can be asymptomatic), you can become a carrier and spread the disease. At this time, this is irresponsible.
Coronavirus has been declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Since there is no current cure for Coronavirus, the only way to slow down its spread is social distancing. Traveling anywhere now is just not responsible.
How will coronavirus affect the economy of Portugal?
The virus is going to have a HUGE impact here in Portugal. Portugal was one of the PIGS just a few years back but has been seeing a renaissance. The country is becoming more financially stable. There are still plenty of problems for locals (for example the average salary is under 1,000€), but things have significantly improved here. Tourism is a big part of that. Here are the current effects of Coronavirus on Portugal’s tourism industry:
- 60% of hotels in the southern Algarve region have reported cancellations
- 2019 saw 16.3 million tourists in Portugal
- Tourism dollars made up 14.6% of the gross domestic product in 2018
- TAP has suspended 3,500 flights that were scheduled from now until May
When the tourist season begins (this usually happens in March) Portugal is expecting 13 million tourists. That’s more than the whole population of the country. Tourism in Portugal is usually made up of a combination of Brits, French, Spaniards, Germans, Italians, Chinese and a sprinkle of Americans. With Italy and China on lockdown, we are expecting a muted tourist season.
What can I do if I have been in contact or possibly contracted the Covid-19 (coronavirus) in Portugal?
This is a more complicated question since it depends on where you are from and when you are due to fly back to your home country, etc.
Since I’m from the US, I’ll be giving you info from the CDC. this is for those who start feeling symptoms after they have landed in the US.
- Alert your local health department as soon as you suspect you have the virus. They will give you the best and most updated steps to deal with it.
- Stay home (except to go to the doctor)
- Stay away from public areas and public transport.
- If possible, stay away from others in your household and your pets.
- Don’t just drop by your doctor. Call ahead so you have an appointment and they know to expect you.
- Wear a facemask.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze (with a tissue – not your hands).
- Use disposable tissues and throw them out.
- Wash your hands with water and soap (there are instructions on how to do this on the above link).
- Use hand sanitizer.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep a set of dishes and silverware for your use only. Do not share cups, etc with family.
- Keep surfaces in your home clean (phones are a cesspool of germs).
- If you are still in Portugal when you begin to suspect you have the virus, contact the SNS‘s English hotline (that’s the Portuguese National Health Authority) by calling 808 24 24 24 and choosing option 9. They are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day (they may be busy, so you may have to wait a bit until they answer).
What precautions can I take if traveling to or if I am already in Portugal during the coronavirus outbreak?
Seriously, I hate to be a bummer, but try to stay in your hotel room. If you absolutely must go out, these precautions can help:
- Wear a medically approved face mask and gloves.
- Stay a good distance away from others.
- Do not use public transportation.
- Wash your hands.
- Use a hand cleaner if you can get your hands on it.
- Go out early in the morning or late at night when there are fewer people out.
- Or if you’re not already here…just cancel the trip. It is the better choice for the world.