Foreigners residing in the Central region praise Portugal's response

in News · 23-04-2020 08:00:00 · 4 Comments

Citizens from other countries now have a more complicated life in Portugal due to the covid-19, but some praise the way the country has reacted to the pandemic, with some even registering improvements in their activities.

Peter Wilton-Davies and Helen Gray, 51 and 45 years old, have been out of England for 10 years and emphasize the advantages of living in Serra da Lousã, in the municipality of Castanheira de Pera, in the district of Leiria.

“We are very happy to be quarantined in Portugal and not in other parts of the world. The Portuguese people were very careful and attentive and started isolation before it became a law”, says Peter to the Lusa agency.

For the couple, isolation "is more difficult for people in cities", while "in the countryside life continues" without major disturbances.

"I am happy to be here and not in the UK, where conditions and restrictions are not so good," he adds.

Peter Wilton-Davies, who in the land of Natal exercised the profession of graphic artist, has chosen to buy fruits and vegetables in a nearby farm.

Helen works in the areas of marketing and fundraising.

For professional reasons, she often went to London, which she is now prevented from doing.

“My work has increased a lot in recent weeks due to the creation of ‘online’ content (…) and the creation of educational and entertaining videos for children and adults”, she tells Lusa.

While working remotely for a British charity, her life “hasn't changed much”.

"I take the dogs for a walk (...) and there are daily deliveries of bread and vegetables in the villages", says Helen Gray, indicating that essential goods are missing from the stores.

The couple admits that their skills in the language of Camões and Saramago have been “a little rusty” recently.

“Peter has not visited the social centre of the village of Pera, where he is part of the team of volunteers” who manage the association, explains Helen, who also “cannot go to the weekly Portuguese class”.

Desiring that Portugal "can resume normal life", Helen and Peter expect "changes and lessons" after the pandemic, with "respect for others and less consumerism".

Belgian Aaron Vansant, 32, came as a child to Oliveira do Hospital, where he works in a family business that sells asparagus and various seeds, including indigenous varieties.

In March, already in a state of emergency, baby Laura was born, his first daughter.

Added to this joy of the Vansants is the favourable business evolution, which Aaron promotes with his father and brother, Peter and Micha.

“The pandemic affects our activity positively”, he added to Lusa.

People “try to keep themselves busy in the garden”, in addition to fearing possible failures in access to plant foods, he explains.

"It is a phenomenon that we had already seen in the 2008 crisis. Then, everything returns to the same, unfortunately", predicts the producer.

The company imports seeds and exports some products to Angola and Belgium.

Portuguese-Brazilian publicist Leonardo Simões, with remote roots in Serra da Lousã, resides in Coimbra.

Born in Brazil, 33 years ago, he came with his parents, sister and aunt to Lousã, where these family members settled in 2019.

“I had a great welcome from the Portuguese community. I have nothing to point out, here I made many friends and business partners”, he congratulates.

In professional terms, it suffered “a negative but controlled impact”, following the restrictions associated with covid-19.

"Some customers asked me to temporarily end the provision of digital marketing services because of the crisis", he adds, when questioned by Lusa.

However, through telecommuting, he continues to provide services to clients in Brazil and Portugal, "with the same or even better quality".

Leonardo, who spends almost "all the time at home" with a Portuguese girlfriend, already feels "the lack of outdoor activities".

“The first impact I suffered was the cut in financing by Portuguese banks. I was negotiating the purchase of an apartment, but I had to postpone it”, reveals the computer programmer.

In his opinion, it will be necessary to “learn from what is happening, so that there is more preparation for the future”.

German resident Detlef Schafft, 65, has been in Portugal for almost 40 years.

He is an actor, clown and musician, developing his work at Lousã, at Companhia Marimbondo, founded 30 years ago.

In 2019, Detlef and Eva Cabral created the Momo Circus Museum, in partnership with the Chamber.

“The museum is closed, since it is a municipal space. Online yoga classes continue, except that the company has “all shows cancelled”, in some cases until August.

This situation “was a cold shower” for Marimbondo.

“We were going to continue with a lot of activities at Momo and we had to cancel concerts and shows”, in addition to participating in international festivals in Germany and Finland.

Detlef rejects some restrictions imposed by the state of emergency.

“We can't even play on the street to cheer people up”, he criticizes.

The artist also protests against the way “how culture is being treated”.

“Especially the circus, which again does not receive any support from the State. It will be a destroyed year. Our work depends completely on the interaction with people and many projects will not even be premiered”, concludes Detlef Schafft.


Excellent....great values...generated

By Ivan from Other on 24-04-2020 01:03

The comment 'buying the life of a few'
is not only heartless it is inaccurate. One only has to look across the border at Spain to see it is many more than 'a few' that have died. Moreover calling it a 'panic' is patronising to those - not hypochondriacs - with genuine medical fears and concerns, and also inaccurate.

By Andrew from Lisbon on 23-04-2020 05:24

I am english and have been living in Amarante with my Portugese husband for 31 years. I am really very impressed how the government here have handled this pandemic. There is no panic and everyone has behaved just wonderfully. I feel totally at ease with what is happening. Well done.

By Carol Ann da Silva from Porto on 23-04-2020 03:39

Living 30 minutes north of Lisbon I would agree that Portugal is a good place to live through the Corona Panic. The measures taken by the government are loss dratsic than in Spain and the Portuguese are - maybe by nature - a people that is more careful than the Spanish.

However, one should keep in mind that this is buying life of a few by selling livelihood for many. There isn't much that Portugal can do on its own, but it should do whatever it can to end this before too much is lost for good.

By John Dough from Lisbon on 23-04-2020 09:50
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