All schools in Portugal to be shut from Friday: government announces decision shortly after midnight

With the “alarming progression” of the Covid epidemic in Portugal, the government announced the decision to close all schools on the mainland from Friday shortly after midnight last night.

It was a move that has been urged by all quarters – particularly by the medical profession under so much strain as multiple hospitals in the north, centre and areas around Lisbon verge on the brink of rupture.

In Cascais, mayor Carlos Carreira has urged parents to keep their children at school today (Thursday) as he believes “time is of the essence in mitigating the effects of a catastrophe”, which he says “is the case” in areas of Portugal right now.

The principal objective of the government’s decision is “to isolate the entire school system”. By not holding classes, ‘people are not forced to leave their homes’ every morning. 

Traffic flow will be instantly reduced, ditto the effective ‘mixing of households’ – this latter issue being the main cause of experts’ concern.

As Filinto Lima, the president of the association school directors stressed yesterday, keeping schools open has been “prolonging the risks that have already seen Portuguese case numbers, and deaths, rise faster proportionally than in almost every other country in the world”.

President Marcelo has already lauded the government’s decision, saying “I think it is a good solution”.

It now remains to be seen what the rest of the details are that come out of today’s Council of Ministers.

For now there has been no mention in the press of the ‘fate’ of ATLs (tuition centres) – which only recently re-opened – nor of the continuance or otherwise of pre-school creches.

The government’s decision affects only schools in what is called ‘continental Porutgal’. The autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira have their own governments and make their own decisions. Schools in the Azores are largely still functioning, as they are also in Madeira, though pressure is on to close Madeira’s schools as well.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com