Portugal, Europe Begin Return to Normal

  •  On public transport, those who do not commit to wearing a mask will be punished with a fine of up to €350.
  • On Sunday, Portugal lifted the state of emergency in effect since March 19.
  • Several other European countries have begun to lift measures, such as the reopening of trade.

In a clear example of a return to life in the shadow of the Coronavirus, Portugal begins easing lockdown procedures on Monday, as it reopens some small shops, hairdressing salons and car parks. However, the Portuguese will have to adhere to strict social distancing rules. Protective masks are also mandatory in shops and centers of public services and transport.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), and novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first detected during the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

This is according to a plan developed by the Portuguese government to ease quarantine procedures during May. On public transport, those who do not commit to wearing a mask will be punished with a fine of up to €350, and stores will not be able to open their doors until ten in the morning. They will also have to respect the rules of social separation.

For its part, hairdressing and beauty salons will only receive customers in advance. “The appointment book is already full,” Miguel Garcia, owner of a hairdressing salon in central Lisbon, told AFP.

On Sunday, Portugal lifted the state of emergency in effect since March 19, which had allowed the government to restrict freedom of movement in order to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. Since Sunday, the state of emergency was replaced by an announcement calling on the Portuguese to respect the “government workers to stay at home.” Telework will remain the rule as long as possible, while gatherings of more than 10 people will be banned.

Under the plan, during the second half of May, some lessons will be resumed for high school students, and distance education will continue until the end of the school year for primary and supplementary schools. As for museums, art galleries, bars, and restaurants— all of which will be subject to new sanitary regulations— they will be reopened as of May 18.

Major soccer clubs will resume individual training on Monday, and the national championship is expected to resume in late May. Theaters, cinemas, and supermarkets will open in early June. Portugal is less affected by the epidemic compared to other countries in Europe. Spain’s neighbor recorded 1,043 deaths as a result of COVID-19 infection, and 25,282 infections, according to the latest toll, reported by AFP.

Coronaviruses are species of virus belonging to the subfamily Coronavirinae in the family Coronaviridae, in the order Nidovirales. There are seven known strains of human coronaviruses, including COVID-19.

There are no more restrictions on the number of people who can attend funerals, but that only concerns family members. Prime Minister António Costa explained that, even if there is a limit on the number of people who can attend the ceremony, if the number of family members is higher, they will not be prevented from participating in the last goodbye to their loved one.

Outdoor sports are allowed, as long as they are individual. That includes the practice of water sports, such as surfing or bodyboarding. However, the ban on the use of changing rooms or pools remains. Other team sports, such as football, even if outdoors, are still prohibited.

In the European Union, the first country to lift restrictions was Austria, but several others have begun to lift measures, such as the reopening of trade. Even Spain— one of the countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the second European country with the most deaths after Italy— has already adopted measures to allow steps to be taken towards normality. First, it was the resumption of industry activities and civil construction. Last Sunday, children were able to come to the street for the first time.

In Italy, strategic and more export-oriented companies, such as the fashion and automobile industry, have already reopened. This Monday, it becomes possible for Italians to take walks in the parks and visit family members. In France, the goal is for children to progressively return to daycare centers and schools from 11 May.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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