Rapid COVID-19 tests no longer free // Mask rule change effects analysed // Brits can skip airport queue
Portuguese news in English on Saturday, April 30, 2022
By the numbers
Everything is still more or less going in the right direction, with cases down slightly, deaths down significantly and hospital numbers essentially unchanged.
Rapid tests no longer free at pharmacies
Rapid COVID-19 tests administered at pharmacies will no longer be free from next month, Público reports. The Health Ministry justified the change given the improvement we’ve been seeing in the pandemic outlook. Free tests will still be available for people ringing through to SNS24 with the right combination of symptoms and/or high-risk exposure to infected people. Portugal and Spain are the only European Union countries in which COVID-19 infections are increasing among older people, Público reports. Across Europe, case numbers remain high despite having dropped for four weeks in a row, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Mask rule change may have minimal effect on pandemic
It’s still too early to know what impact dropping the mask mandate in most places will have on case numbers but one expert believes it’s likely to be only “light or, probably, nil”, Diário de Notícias reports. University of Lisbon professor Carlos Antunes, who’s been modelling the pandemic since it began, said there could be increases in case numbers amid certain age groups in certain regions, but without major repercussions. That’s partly because there are already a lot of cases everyday, reinforcing immunity levels, and because people will spend more time outside with the warmer weather. Secondary indicators also aren’t pointing to a significant worsening.
Businesses can’t force their employees to wear masks at work without first producing a risk analysis by their security, hygiene and health service, several lawyers have told Público. The analysis can be done externally or internally but is needed because a law allowing companies to impose mask mandates on their workers was dropped at the same time as the other rules. Obviously this doesn’t apply to people working in health, transport and other areas where masks are still necessary.
Brits can skip queue and use e-gates at Portuguese airports
There’s good news for Brits cranky that Brexit (among other things) means they have to suffer through those long “non-European” lines when flying into Portugal. UK passport holders will be able to use e-gates when flying into Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Madeira, Euronews reports in English. The change, which travel expert Paul Charles says could lead to a domino effect across Europe, is also thought to apply to Australians, New Zealanders, Singaporeans and Japanese. Sic Notícias reports the system is already in place.
In other travel news, Público reports that guest numbers in Lisbon are still almost 20% below 2019, making it Portugal’s worst affected region, and that Greece will no longer demand tests or vaccine certificates from tourists starting in May.
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University of Lisbon law faculty investigating three professors for harassment and discrimination. The school set up a complaints email in March. (Público)
University of Porto arts and humanities faculty investigating teacher after criminal complaint. A foreign female student complained the teacher manipulated and coerced her into having sexual relactions with him over several months. (Público)
Rental assistance program cap doubled in some parts to keep up with surging market. The Porta 65 cap had been set at €581 in Lisbon and €468 in Porto for a T1, excluding most potential applicants. (Público)
On a lighter note
Would you like to relive arguably the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of Portugal? If so, this is the tourist attraction for you! Quake Museum - Lisbon Earthquake Centre has just opened in Belém, promising to take visitors back to November 1, 1755, for a virtual adventure through Lisbon’s lost streets, Diário de Notícias reports. As well as the main attraction, an interactive representation of the devastating earthquake itself with lights, audiovisual aids and simulators, there is information about the disaster itself and the science behind earthquakes. Tickets, which start at €21, are 50% off until May 8.
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