Portuguese police “watching social media” to stamp out New Year’s Eve parties

As 2020 enters its final countdown, Portuguese police are reported to be “watching social media to avoid illegal parties”.

Writes Expresso today: “There are private parties agreed on Facebook groups, and others organised by collectives and hotels…”

Indeed the paper claims “groups of people who want to celebrate New Year as if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic are multiplying”.

Giving various examples of posts about events throughout the country, Expresso admits it isn’t a simple matter for police to infiltrate.

One has to be invited into one of these ‘closed Facebook groups’ or send a private message.

It’s only once members have been ‘accepted’ that they get the coordinates of the party that has been planned.

“The major difficulty is for the PSP and the GNR to try and find the places where parties that intend to go on through the night are being held”, says the paper – citing a source in the PSP saying it is equally difficult to identify the organisers “as it all functions (online) with a password”.

But it’s not just ‘rogue parties coming together through social media’ that the authorities are having to contend with. Says Expresso, there are also private events hosted by ‘collectives’, in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve keeping police on their toes.

Without doubt, this evening will see ‘a muscled police presence’ in the streets, with patrols being “adjusted according to information gleaned from social media”, GNR captain David Ferreira admitted.

In fact Captain Ferreira said social media won’t be the only source of information.

Problematic neighbourhoods – or areas known for informal parties – will be well-covered, as will the highways on which all circulation is prohibited from midnight tonight (says Expresso).

There has been huge confusion over the exact terms of the New Year national confinement.

Social media last night was suggesting citizens were confined to their home boroughs from one minute past midnight (ie the first minute of December 31).

But other sources, like Espresso, insist the borough lockdowns only come in place at midnight tonight.

That said, the prime minister’s address about New Year suggested no-one should be on the streets this evening after 11pm (click here).

The timetable for the next three days however is fairly clear: no circulation at all from 1pm. People can leave their homes from 5am in the morning, but have to be back inside by 1pm (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

Monday January 4 will see the New Year confinement finally ‘over’ as the country waits to discover whether a new State of Emergency will be called.

Expresso has stressed that there is simply not enough statistical information available yet for President Marcelo make his decision. It may be that he decrees a slightly shorter State of Emergency (for just seven days) as epidemiological information is properly collated.

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