With the country waiting on this morning’s decisions by the Council of Ministers, national media has been stressing that anyone placed in quarantine by the health authorities risks up to eight years in jail if they leave their homes.
This is possibly another reason for the failure of last night’s six-hour meeting of the national council for public health in coming to a decision on whether or not to close schools.
This has now been left to the Council of Ministers, meeting as we write this text.
Criticism of the ‘lack of aggressive decision-making’ is meantime being given widespread airtime, with three more universities taking the autonomous decisions today to close anyway.
Part of the reluctance by health chiefs to ‘take the plunge’ involves the logistics of actually ensuring people do stay at home.
Said Graça Freitas, leading the DGS health directorate, pupils would have to be aware that if schools are closed, it doesn’t mean they can hang out in shopping malls – or even ‘go to the beach’ as images on Wednesday showed was happening in Cascais.
DGS measures are quite specific. Anyone breaking quarantine (which does involve isolation in one’s home, albeit private gardens and terraces remain within this description) runs the risk of being prosecuted, with the maximum penalty running to eight years in prison.
Another issue this week has been the reports coming out of the so-called ‘locked down’ boroughs Felgueiras and Lousada in the north. Residents have been seen ‘out and about’, continuing with their lives as much as possible.
Tourists too have been discovered ‘breaking quarantine’ (click here). In the case of a Danish couple fleeing isolation in Copenhagen for a holiday in Madeira, Correio da Manhã reports this morning that the Madeiran government is considering legal action.
Madeiran authorities have been ‘tough’ on all kinds of arrivals, including a yacht that left Italy on March 4 and was hoping to stop over in Funchal for two days en-route for central America.
The crew of the ‘Playpen’ were informed that they could only enter the port on March 18, following a period of quarantine.
According to Marine Traffic online, the boat is now on the way to Tenerife, Spain.