In Lisbon, as in the rest of the world, we are living in some extraordinary times. Not even our grandparents can recall such a thing, writes Claudia Silva from Lisbon.
When the WHO declared the state of Pandemic worldwide (last Wednesday), some public schools in areas of Lisbon (namely in “Costa do Estoril” which includes all the seacoast between Cascais and the capital) decided to close doors without Portuguese Government permission. Thousands of students were supposedly told to go home and stay there, as part of a social isolation campaign that has been decreed and installed in our country.
Instead, thousands of students decided that due to extremely good weather conditions (high temperatures and sunny days) they should all go to the beach. But not only were there students but also workers that were sent home for social isolation and some even under imposed quarantine if they were a suspicious case.
An empty Praça do Comercio in Lisbon. Photo by Luis Guerreiro
As the numbers infected started to rise (official number for today: 245), the Government decided to create even more drastic measures, besides the warnings to #stayhome. On Thursday it was declared that: all schools will be closed from next Monday until further notice and that parents could stay home if they have kids below the age of 12; most companies could decide to let workers go home and start working from there; to keep minimum distances from others in public places; to close beaches in order to avoid big concentrations; and that boat cruises would not be allowed to let anyone ashore, etc. On Friday, Cais do Sodré, one of the nightlife centers was filled with people, most of them tourists. What about the others that were Portuguese, Lisbon born and raised? Quoting the words of a youngster to a news channel: “Covid-19 only happens and kills older people and kids, right? So, if something happens to me I may not even feel any symptoms. Why should I care or stay at home? It’s exaggeration not to live my life.”
And that’s how I believe most young people are seeing the problem. They don’t understand that the problem of the virus is not mainly the potential death rate but how quickly it is transmitted. The closing of schools can eventually become a health problem as most kids are over age 12, so their parents should go to work every day. This leads to the rule-breaking so typical of teenagers. Yesterday a member of the national health organization (Direção Geral de Saúde), that grandparents are not the solution for those cases as they can become ill if their grandchildren are contagious. So we are really experiencing some very tricky times, not only for families but also for the government.
'Right now we are potential biological weapons carrying a potentially deadly virus. Each one of us'
Nevertheless, not everything is bad – after these first days of confusion, paranoia, and fear, people are slowly (I hope) understanding the information, what's really happening. Because it doesn’t happen only to others, to the elderly or kids. It happens to everyone. Right now we are potential biological weapons carrying a potentially deadly virus. Each one of us. Last night around 10pm a wave of applause broke out from most Lisbon (and surrounding) windows. It was a way to say Thank You to all of the health professionals who are dealing with this, much closer up. So, for them, who could be our rescuers, and for each and every one of us, our families, friends, loved ones - Humankind please: #staythefuckhome!