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Covid19 summary 27th March 2020

Michael Reeve - 27-04-2020

Covid19 summary 27th March 2020

News from afpop - 27th March 2020As the week comes to a close I wanted to give you a brief update on the situation and explain what we are doing regarding information going forward. The staff have been working in the office all week and the level of phone call and e-mail activity has been as high as ever, but the difference this week has been it"s almost all been on one subject. I"m delighted that Members have been contacting the office, because not only does this enable us to help you, it also highlights to us the things that Members need information about and the level of misinformation that always exists at such times. I"ll address one or two of those later, but for now I want to assure you that we are taking all precautions we can to safeguard staff welfare, whilst working hard to obtain accurate updates to keep you all informed.

I won’t go over old ground except for where there are changes, so if something is not included here it will be in one of the earlier e-mails. Of course I haven’t covered everything that the government has issued, but that is to keep these relevant to you all.
 
Starting with social interaction. There’s been a lot said about walks on the beach and exercise. The Maritime police told us today that groups on the beach are not allowed and that whilst the beaches are not closed they are actively dissuading people from going there even on their own. This is because a thousand people going on their own is the same as 20 groups of 50 people going and they will be patrolling beaches and may turn you away. Their advice is simply not to go to the beach.
 
People are allowed to go for a run but no more than two people in a ‘group’ and for shorter runs, not long training runs. The same for walks. Exercise is permitted. But in groups of two and for shorter walks simply to get exercise or to take the dog out.
 
There are some changes to bureaucratic issues that have altered again since we informed you about them. Driving licences now will remain valid until 30th June for those who are either exchanging them or about to do so. Also the extension to vehicles inspections has been increased from 2 months to FIVE months from the date of registration. Of course it makes sense not to wait until 5 months has elapsed before doing anything about it once the IPO stations are open and we will keep an eye on these, and other bureaucratic deadlines as they evolve.
 
We are trying to get an update from SEF about Residências, which is proving a little difficult. My advice based on what has been done with other bureaucratic measures is not to panic and your residency status will not be affected if you have either a temporary or permanent Residêncy. SEF has told us that they are in discussion with the Minister for Internal Affairs and they will tell us as soon as they have an answer and as soon as we have a definite answer on that we will make Members aware. If you have an appointment please contact the afpop office to see what the current situation is and we will do our best to guide you in real time.
 
Be aware of misinformation or worse phishing scams. We mentioned in the past e-mail about bogus medicines on-line, but Finanças are also warning now of bogus SMS messages being sent out purporting to be from them (A.T.) with links to click. Our advice is do not click on links in SMS messages. If you receive any such message, go to the AT, or whichever agency, website and try to make contact that way. If in doubt, call the afpop office.
 
It's being put out as fact that the current State of Emergency is now going to last for a month and not a fortnight. Whilst that MAY happen and may ion fact be likely, that is not the case at the moment., The President of the Republic has said it could happen and the government will take a decision on that when it meets next week to review the situation. As soon as any declaration is made we will let you know.
 
We have also been asked about the law that says three people can’t be in the same vehicle. There is nothing in the law or advice that prohibits that. The only advice that we were given by the police was that people shouldn’t travel three in a car unless necessary, but if you’re stopped and have a reason for doing so you will not be in trouble. Of course the guidance on social distancing is still in force and should be observed wherever possible, but the government has placed no prohibition at the moment, leaving it to the common sense of citizens to follow their guidelines. If this changes again we will let you all know.
 
These are two examples of people misunderstanding what has been said and then the rumour becoming fact. If you hear of any such apparent restriction and we haven’t told you about it in one of our updates, please contact the afpop office and let us know so that we can either give you the correct information or research the rule if we don’t already know the answer.
 
We have been asked a few times now if these briefings are only for afpop Members and of course you’re the only people we are actually contacting, but please do feel free to spread the word or even forward these messages to others. Whilst it’s a good avert for afpop of course, it’s more important at this time that as many people as possible get to here what the government is doing and how their efforts are progressing. These updates are being put on the afpop website and facebook page, so they can be seen by anyone who visits them.
 
Please remember that those agencies that are closed to the public are still taking enquiries by phone or e-mail, although telephone enquiries may take even longer than usual to be answered.
 
The afpop staff will be back in the office next week, providing all is well and we are not prohibited from doing so, but if we are we will continue to provide as complete a service as can from our homes. You will not be left without support from the team, regardless of how we have to go about getting the information to you. It is important to the team and of course to the councils that we continue to provide as much support as we can, particularly given the difficulty of the times we are experiencing, so please continue to ask your questions, by phone or e-mail.
 
I would like to say thank you to all of you who have sent such kind and supportive messages to the afpop team. They are very warmly received and your support for the efforts of the team makes such a difference to us. We are pleased to be able to help you.
 
As we head into the weekend, on behalf of the whole team I wish you good health and urge you to follow the government’s advice.
 
My warmest regards to you all and thank you again,
 
Michael
Michael R Reeve
CEO
afpop – ‘Making Life Better’
 

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