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Government closes schools as pandemic worsens in Portugal

Portugal covid

Less than 24 hours after the Portuguese Government implemented tighter rules for the second mandatory confinement, Prime Minister António Costa announced new measures to tackle the worsening pandemic. After the Council of Ministers meeting this Thursday, January 21st, António Costa spoke to the national media and unveiled more changes, most importantly that schools will be close starting on Friday January 22nd, for at least the next two weeks.

This decision contradicts the Government’s initial intention to maintain a normal class schedule for Portuguese schools, and was made after several days of mounting pressure from the political opposition and several experts, who view schools as a potential risk for contagion, especially when parents drive their children to classes.

António Costa assured that «schools are not and have never been a primary source of Covid-19 infections», but the rising number of cases related to the new strain identified in the UK, which could represent 60% of Covid-19 cases by next week, advises a more cautious approach, despite the potential negative impacts for students and their parents. The Government will implement certain measures to support parents and children.

The Portuguese Prime Minister also revealed that the European Council will meet this Thursday afternoon and decide on cooperation measures and adjustments to EU policies to tackle the pandemic.

In the last 24 hours, Portugal recorded new records of 13.554 new cases of Covid-19 and 221 related deaths. Below is a summary of the new restrictions which will be enforced starting on Friday, January 22nd.

New measures announced by the portuguese Prime Minister for schools and parents

  • All Schools will be closed for the next two weeks. This break and any additional time of closure for schools will be compensated at a later date in the school year, according to a decision which will be made by the Minister of Education.
  • The only exceptions are facilities for children with special needs and facilities for children under 12-years of age whose parents are essential workers, for example health workers, police officers, among others.
  • Schools will be allowed to serve meals to students with special financial needs.
  • Parents who must skip work to take care of their children will have justification for their absence and can receive financial support of up to 60% of their salary.
  • CPCJ, the public entity that protects children and monitors their living conditions, will continue its operation without restrictions.

General measures already in force

  • Mandatory remote work
  • Mandatory curfew with prohibition to circulate between municipalities on weekends
  • Restrict rules for take away and delivery in restaurants
  • Retails establishments that can still be open, such as supermarkets and home improvement retailers, are limited on working hours and products that can be sold to customers.

Other measured announces

  • Citizen Shops, a public service responsible for ID cards, passports and other essential documents, will be closed. Other public services will only function by appointment.
  • All deadlines for non-urgent court cases are suspended, giving Courts more time to deal with bureaucracy and processing.

Tiago Vidal

Partner and Managing Director LLYC Portugal

Responsible for the operations of LLYC in Portugal, Tiago Vidal leads a team of experts responsible for the development and implementation of Reputation Management strategies, Communications and Public Affairs in leading companies in sectors such as Finance, Real Estate, Energy, Transport and Logistics, Distribution, Automotive, and FMCG. He was previously Head of Corporate Communications at Sonae Sierra, where he led all B2B communication activities in 14 countries. During his 16 years at Sonae Sierra, Tiago was responsible for reputation management, brand, corporate marketing and PR, relationship with stakeholders and crisis communications, including IPO’s, mergers and acquisitions.

Maria Eça

Client Services Director

Maria is responsible for the Public Affairs and Crisis&Risks areas in LLYC in Portugal, working with clients from the banking and insurance sector, health, online gambling and retail. She is advising companies such as Leroy Merlin, Liberty Seguros and Unilever. She has also participated in M&A and foreign investment projects.

With over 8 years’ experience as a journalist, specializing in economics and society, Maria worked at TVI (private television), where she had the chance to follow and report Portugal’s key issues and relevant news about the main companies operating in the country, on a daily basis.