Much as we posted back in October, the 2nd Wave has hit Portugal. 2021 offers hope, but right now it's a long and painful slog for many people and businesses.
As of December 16th, we're losing 75-90 plus people per day here. That's a heavy toll for a population of just over 10 million. The heaviest concentration of new cases and deaths is here in the north. The government has rolled out more regulations, based on the number of new cases, and those rules mandate mask usage in public, when businesses are open, and at what hours they must close. In particular, on Saturdays and Sundays businesses close at 1 p.m. and remain closed until 5 a.m. the next morning. Restaurants are allowed to do deliveries, but no takeout orders. There are further restrictions for Christmas and New Year's, especially for the latter when we are confined to our municipalities. For small businesses, this is an incredibly difficult time.
We've continued to isolate, going out only to restock fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and wine. The remainder of our groceries are delivered. It's sad to watch holidays pass by without spending them with friends, but we'd much rather those friends be with us next year. I foresee a lot of celebration and hugs.
Portugal has purchased 22 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at a cost of 200 million euros. They will begin distributing those (for free) in January. The first group to receive the vaccine will be healthcare providers, the elderly and people with certain co-morbidities. A quick glance at the list indicates that Harold and I do not qualify for that first round, which is fine. I'd much rather see our medical staff and those truly at risk vaccinated first. We'll probably be in the second group (April onward) and I'll be interested to see how they're going to roll out a nationwide program. The logistics will be a nightmare.
The vaccinations will be handled by one's local Centro de Saude (health center) and will involve not only that first shot, but the scheduling and administration of the second dose. To be honest, it'll take years for Portugal's economy to recover. It's so sad because this country had just begun to make enormous strides after the 2008 global depression. Now they have to start all over again. However, these folks will shoulder that burden and trudge on. They're indomitable.
Wishing all of you a very Happy Holidays! Stay well and let's look forward to 2021 together.
Harold is a former software engineer. Jana is an author. Together they're exploring their new life in Portugal.