Delayed return to school and mandatory telecommuting in January. 25 responses about the new measures

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A more measured month of December and a first week of January in “restraint”. The Government’s objective is that Portugal cannot “even come close to what happened in the tragic January 2021”. The words are from António Costa and justify not only the changes decided by the Council of Ministers for the weeks of the festivities, but also the first days of January when there will be no classes, telework will be mandatory and the clubs will be closed.

Among the new measures is a novelty and a formula that until now had never been used during the Covid-19 pandemic in Portugal. There are specific situations and places in which a person, even if vaccinated, has to test negative.

Will schools close again?
No. What will happen is that the Christmas vacation period will be extended until January 10th. The holidays were scheduled from December 17th to January 3rd, but the government decided to postpone the restart of the school year for all school cycles in the post-festival period, the “contact contention week”, as the prime minister called it. . The idea is to avoid crossing contacts after a period of intense family interaction. These extra vacation days in January will be offset by two vacation days less at Carnival and two less at Easter — a model similar to what happened a year ago when Easter vacation days were brought forward as early as February.

But do the ATL’s also close?
ATL and other “similar activities” are also closed during the same period.

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And the day care centers?
António Costa clarified at the press conference after the Council of Ministers that the crèches are covered and that they will also be closed between the 2nd and 9th of January.

How do I do these weeks? Will I have support to stay at home and take care of my 8 year old?
The family support that was in place when schools closed will be reactivated. After the prime minister announced the change in the calendar, the minister of Labor and Social Security came to say that “support is reactivated in the same way so that it can be quickly implemented”. The rules established in the past provided that absences should be justified for those who have to provide care for children under 12 or those suffering from a disability or chronic illness. To have access to this support, you will have to communicate to the employer the reason for the absence using a specific form and will be entitled to exceptional financial support corresponding to 2/3 of your base salary, which is supported in equal parts by the employer and by Social Security. When this support was created, it was only attributable to parents who did not have professional activities compatible with telework, but a year ago this was extended to parents who could engage in teleworking.

And universities?
There will also be classroom activities interrupted until January 10th. There are few that keep them as this is traditionally a time of examinations, which is why the Government was until the last to decide what to do. He ended up deciding to suspend classes, stressing that this will happen “without harming assessments”, that is, exams are maintained, classes are not.

Will I have to go back to telecommuting?
If your professional activity can be carried out remotely, then teleworking is recommended from December 1st. There is no obligation — as it once was — but teleworking is once again recommended, as it was until the 1st of October. Two months later, companies that may have to go back to work from home.

Does the rule remain in the first week of January?
No. Between the 2nd and 9th of January, telecommuting is no longer recommended and becomes mandatory. It is one of the rules of the “week of contention” in which the Government intends to make contact outside the family nuclei, in order to stop possible contagion during the Christmas and New Year weeks.

When Portugal enters a state of calamity, can I still be without a mask in closed places?
No, that was one of the rules announced by António Costa for the next time. The mask will once again be mandatory in all closed spaces and all precincts, with the exception of those with authorization from the General Directorate of Health.

Will I have to get the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine?
For now, what has been defined is that by December 19 the population eligible for the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine will receive it. That is, people over 65 who were vaccinated five months ago (including those recovered from Covid-19), who are entitled to a medical prescription and also people over 50 who received the (then) single dose of the vaccine from Janssen.

And will my six-year-old daughter be vaccinated? When?
The first doses of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine against Covid-19 arrive in Portugal on 20 December. The European Medicines Authority has already approved the use of the vaccine in children between five and 12 years of age, but the decision of national health authorities is still pending. When this arrives, it will be up to the parents to decide whether or not they want to vaccinate their children.

Will there be no limits on gatherings at Christmas?
No limits of this kind were defined this time, neither inside doors nor in outdoor public spaces — as it once was.

But do I also have to take a test to be with my family?
It is not mandatory, however it is recommended that you take a self-test before joining your family for the Christmas celebration.

And can my family members who live abroad come?
Yes, but be careful, whoever enters Portugal will have to bring a negative test done. Whatever the point of origin and whatever the origin of the passenger. If you don’t have a test, the airline will be fined (20,000 euros per passenger without a test). The Government has hired private security companies to tighten controls at the country’s airports. But this requirement of a negative test to enter is not exclusive for those traveling to the country by air transport, it is also mandatory to test for those entering by sea and land.

My mother is in a nursing home and I am vaccinated. I want to go visit her, may I?
Yes. But from Wednesday next week everyone visiting someone in a nursing home will have to test negative to Covid-19. There are no exceptions for those who are vaccinated. Thus, with or without a vaccination certificate, a negative test is required to enter these spaces, as well as to enter hospitals.

I have reservations for a hotel on New Year’s Eve, can I still go?
Yes, no problem. What was determined was the obligation to present the Covid digital certificate to enter tourist establishments and local accommodation.

This week I already bought tickets for a concert. Also don’t need testing?
If it is an event with marked places, it will not be necessary to present a test for those who are vaccinated. In this case the rule remains: vaccination or testing.

On the day I go to see Benfica-Sporting do I have to test Covid-19?
Yes, fans who go to the stadium to see the Lisbon derby will have to test negative for Covid-19, even if they have been fully vaccinated for 14 days and have the corresponding certificate. This is one of the cases where a double certification is required for some people.

After all, is it not enough to be vaccinated? And the digital certificate after all is useless?
No. If you want to access homes, health establishments, large events without marked places or improvised and sports venues, you will have to have a negative test for Covid-19. As for the digital certificate, it is requested in other cases (restaurants, tourist establishments and local accommodation, events with marked places and gyms) and there it is valid whether you have the vaccination, test or recovery certificate. When a digital certificate is required, any one of the three is valid, as long as it is up to date.

But, for example, do I need a test to go to Christmas fairs? I had thought of going to Wonderland, which will take place at Parque Eduardo VII, in Lisbon…
The rules are exactly the same for sports venues as for “large events without marked seats or in improvised venues” which include Christmas fairs, as in the case of Wonderland Lisboa. So, going to an event like this will require a negative Covid-19 test, even if visitors have a vaccination certificate.

And my children, they are small and are they going with me, will they also be forced to take a test?
No, mandatory tests are only required from age 12 onwards. The youngest ones, although they are the age group in which there have been more cases of Covid-19 in this new wave, still do not have to take a test, confirmed the Observer to the Government.

In December I have already scheduled several Christmas dinners, do I have to test negative to enter the restaurant?
No, from December 1st, in restaurants only those who are not vaccinated will have to test negative at the entrance. The vaccination certificate will be enough to go out for lunch or dinner without further restrictions.

One of these days I’m going out at night. Will bars and clubs be open?
Yes, the clubs will only close between the 2nd and 9th of January. Until then, even when Portugal enters a state of calamity — on December 1st — the bars and clubs will be open.

What do I need to enter these establishments?
Taking into account the new rules announced by the Prime Minister, bars and clubs are among the places where double certification is needed for those vaccinated. In other words, to enter these establishments you will need to submit a negative test to Covid-19 from December 1st.

In the first week of January I have a friend who has a birthday, can we go clubbing this weekend?
No. António Costa called it the “week of contention” and the objective is even to restrict contacts as much as possible, preferably within the family. For this contention to work, the Government decided to close the clubs between the 2nd and 9th of January, so it will not be possible to visit these places during that week.

I go to the gym every day, do I need a digital certificate?
As of December 1st, all people who go to the gym will have to present a digital certificate. But this is not one of the cases where it may be necessary to present a double certification, a vaccinated person does not need a test.

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Delayed return to school and mandatory telecommuting in January. 25 responses about the new measures