Statement By The State And Presidency Minister Mariana Viera Da Silva
State Of Emergency
Statement By The State And Presidency Minister Mariana Viera Da Silva

State and Presidency Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva presented a set of new measures to combat the covid-19 pandemic at a press conference of the Council of Ministers this Thursday.

The Minister announces that all rules and restrictions remain “broadly” in force, but that others have been added. These are the rules and restrictions:

The suspension of teaching activities continues until 5 February and on 8 February “a period of distance learning begins”.
Limitation to travel outside the territory by any means for Portuguese citizens.
Reinstatement of control of persons at land borders.
– The possibility for NHS health establishments to exceptionally hire medical and nursing graduates from abroad for up to one year.
Schools will remain closed until 5 February. Classes will start again on the 8th, but at home, as in the first confinement. The Minister of State and Presidency also confirmed the suspension of travel out of Portugal for the next 15 days.

“The situation is very serious. In recent days there has been an increase in cases and deaths,” said Mariana Vieira da Silva. The press conference was also attended by Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, who confirmed that schools would remain closed until 5 February.

On the following Monday, 8 February, classes will resume, but at home, and that the rules that were approved in July 2020 will apply. The government will “maintain therapeutic support and additional measures for students with special needs” as well as meals for students in the A and B brackets. “Yesterday alone, 20,000 meals were provided by the schools,” the minister said. With the return of school from a distance, the children of essential services workers will have their schools open, as is currently the case. “On average, these days we had two thousand students in the host schools”, explained Tiago Brandão Rodrigues. Local early childhood intervention teams and child and youth protection committees will also continue to operate.

On the preparation of distance learning, the minister says that work has been done in this direction and has used the example of the teleschool, in the “RTP Memória” channel.

Day care centres, said Mariana Vieira da Silva, will continue to be closed for the next fortnight. With regard to exams and assessment tests, the minister of education assumed that there were still no set dates and that a final decision was dependent on the evolution of the pandemic.

Measures will be re-evaluated every 15 days to determine whether there is a possibility of reopening classes to some students.

On Carnival day, the minister did not anticipate whether there would be a day-off for the Civil Service, but said that there would not be the usual celebrations.

The Minister of Education explains that online classes start for all levels of education. “The three days of the Carnival break, the 15th, 16th and 17th of February are days of teaching activities”. During the Easter holidays, at least 25 and 26 March “will be days of teaching activities”. “At the end of the school year” there will also be an adjustment.

Eduardo Cabrita, Minister for Internal Administration, announced that “by decision within the framework of a national strategy, the government will adopt a measure to limit travel abroad for the next 15 days of national citizens in order to protect national citizens and contribute to limiting contagion”. The restrictions apply to “air, water and land travel of national citizens in the next fortnight”, he added.

Eduardo Cabrita also said that the government would contribute to “the European decision to limit flights between risk areas throughout the European Union and to require testing and quarantine by articulated decision at European level,” without specifying countries.

The Minister of the Presidency said that the ban on citizens’ departure seemed to be a “good example” and explained that what is happening is a “border control”. “It is not a total closure of borders. It is an arrival check”.

She said “we are not in a position to ease any restrictive measures that exist” to justify why the government has decided to maintain the restrictions that already exist in this renewed state of emergency. Mariana Vieira da Silva also said that what the decree does is to empower the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Internal Administration to ban flights to countries. In other words, there is no fixed list of countries.

Humanitarian flights are part of the exceptions to the different circulation restrictions that have been defined, the minister said.

From mid-February, the government will assess “all measures, including the closure of schools”, the minister says. She also explains that the measures on land borders are “in all respects similar” to those in the first confinement.

Regarding the reinforcement for the SNS, the minister said that on foreign doctors the government estimates that there are around 160 doctors licensed abroad and that they meet conditions to be hired under this exceptional regime which aims to give the government the possibility of “hiring as many” professionals as possible.

The extra work of doctors, nurses and operational assistants is also better paid, explained.