More rolling news …

Pestana to close 12 hotels

Photo of Madeira airport, where the news is that the staff are calling for its closure

The blog will continue to deliver news in a single post format, as the server seems less inclined to “fall over” under the weight of traffic it has been receiving recently, so please keep checking back to see what has been added at the bottom of the post. If you see a “Resource Limit” error message it should only be temporary.

The Diario reports that they have heard via an employee of Madeira Airport that Portway and Groundforce workers there have demanded the provisional closure of the runway due to to the COVID-19 pandemic (there are just the two ground-handling companies at Madeira Airport).

The request, which has been made anonymously, states that in the boarding and check-in area “all staff are very concerned about the situation” and that employees feel “very uncomfortable with the vulnerability and exposure” that their work “ has in relation to contact with the passenger”.

“Both Portway and Ground Force employees want the airport to be closed in order to stop the contamination of the disease on our island”. “This Saturday there were a lot of foreigners who arrived on our island from countries like Switzerland, Holland, United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany. The feeling it gives us is that tourists are not giving due importance to the situation in Europe”, warned the employee, a spokesperson for a group that claims to represent almost 100 professionals.

Discouraging tourists “is a priority”

The Regional Government believes that measures to restrict the movement of passengers which came into effect at midnight at the airports in Madeira have the main purpose of “deterring” the arrival of tourists to the Region in this phase of general alert.

Predicting that this “measure to discourage tourists from coming” will have a “gigantic impact”, the regional secretary for Tourism and Culture hopes that in the near future tourists will refrain from travelling to Madeira and Porto Santo. This is the main reason for the desire to see the two airports closed to flights originating in six countries that increase the risk of contagion at this time as previously reported here, which has not yet been authorised by Lisbon. This is why it is mandatory to quarantine everyone who from now on will land in the Region, precisely to “limit the access of people to Madeira”, said Eduardo Jesus, after a meeting held yesterday afternoon at the Secretariat of Tourism, with representatives of various tourism sectors. There is a new meeting of the working group scheduled for this afternoon.

An 8-year-old Swiss child was admitted to the isolation unit at the main Funchal hospital, which now has 19 isolation beds.

Jet2 cancels flights to Madeira

Predictably, Jet2 have cancelled flights to Madeira due to the measures announced yesterday by the Regional authorities requiring all passengers disembarking in the archipelago to be quarantined for 14-days, starting at midnight last night.

JM report that TUI has also cancelled all flights to Madeira. The cancellation of several European countries to Madeira will take effect from today and will continue until the end of the month. Hoteliers are reported to be concerned and there are emergency meetings scheduled for Monday, with the temporary closure of units being at risk.

Not quite sure on easyJet exact position but will add it here when it becomes clear. They have stopped all flights to Spain, so one would expect flights to Portugal to be at least under scrutiny.

TAP has cut some of its flights later in the day, and the cable car from the Old Town to the Botanical Gardens was announced as being suspended but is in operation today.

A plane from Denmark that flew to Porto Santo to repatriate a group of Danes has already landed on the golden island. These Danes had arrived in Porto Santo to enjoy a vacation, but will be forced to return to their country of origin.

In Madeira, the Danish couple who ‘broke through’ the quarantine and whose son is infected with the coronavirus still remains in social isolation.

Binter to cut inter-island connections

Binter planeThe Diario reports that airline Binter, which has the concession for the Madeira – Porto Santo flights, has admitted that it will be forced to cancel a large part of the schedule foreseen in the inter-island connections, given the strong restrictions imposed by the Regional Government of Madeira announced yesterday. These measures included requiring all passengers disembarking in the archipelago to be quarantined for 14-days, starting at midnight last night. It also calls into question the possibility of suspending the new routes that it had planned for next summer, to and from Madeira, presumably including Marrakesh, reported here.

Inter-island flights are not subject to quarantine. On the subject of airlines, a good opportunity to copy another brilliant Matt cartoon from the Telegraph.

Government warns of fake news

The Regional Government affirmed last night that “in view of the publication of false news shared on social networks, which only intend to take advantage of the current moment to launch panic among the population, the Regional Government of Madeira informs that the only official information about COVID-19 is being made through its own channels, specifically the regional health authority IASAÚDE.

Therefore, any other source with dubious information can only be understood as an attempt to launch panic, which in no way helps the climate of serenity that is imposed at this moment for the Madeiran and Porto-Santos families. Regardless of the procedures, including judicial ones, that the Regional Government may initiate, we ask the population to be alert to these situations and to authenticate only the official information that is made daily”.

Ronaldo wants to turn CR7 hotels into “hospitals”

The Spanish publication Marca says that Portuguese star will pay doctors to fight the coronavirus. Cristiano Ronaldo admits transforming his CR7 hotels in Portugal into hospitals to be used to fight the coronavirus. The Spanish sports newspaper Marca printed the story, adding that the Portuguese ace will pay doctors and other health professionals.

Cristiano Ronaldo is currently remaining in quarantine in Madeira after Juventus team-mate Daniele Rugani tested positive for coronavirus.

The Portuguese star flew there before the news broke and must stay put rather than fly back to northern Italy where the outbreak is at its most rampant. Ronaldo and Rugani shared a dressing room on Sunday when Juventus beat Inter Milan 2-0 behind closed doors.

The Azores announce first confirmed case

The Azorean Health Authority announced today that the first case of positive results for infection with the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID 19, was detected.

In a statement released on the website of the Social Communication Support Office, the regional health authority said that this is a 29-year-old woman, resident on Terceira Island, who had been in Amsterdam, and in Felgueiras, on the Portuguese mainland.

“At this moment, she has a stable clinical situation and is hospitalized at the Hospital de Santo Espírito on Ilha Terceira”, adds in the same information note, adding that “the positive result awaits a counter-analysis by the Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Institute of Health in Lisbon”.

Azores requests complete suspension of air connections

The President of the Azores Government sent yesterday a letter to the Prime Minister in Lisbon requesting the urgent suspension of air connections from abroad, including from the national territory, with the airports of the Azores, with the exception of cargo transportation and cases of force majeure, as long as authorized by the competent Health Authority.

COVID-19: Why we touch our faces and how to stop it

Thanks to Peter for sending a link to a BBC story: Coronavirus: Why we touch our faces and how to stop it This is apparently one of the most read articles on the BBC website this morning

Regional Governments do not have the power to impose quarantines?

FN report on the news that measures introduced by the Regional Government detailed above.

They report that the constitutionalist Jorge Reis Novais, speaking to RTP, is of the opinion that Regional Governments do not have this constitutional right. He says that everyone realises that the measures to be taken will necessarily be burdensome for the citizens. But another question is to know, in constitutional legal terms, who has the competence to take these measures, whether the National Government or the Regional Government, or the Regional Assembly, or the Assembly of the Republic. It seems clear to me that Regional Governments do not have this competence.

The constitutionalist specifically referred to the statements of Miguel Albuquerque, who yesterday announced the closure of Madeira International Airport to flights from areas covered by COVID-19, a measure that awaits the consent of the Government of the Republic, and today decided to initiate the quarantine adding that the Region cannot wait for decisions from the Republic to take preventive behaviour in such a serious situation. If certain flights are not closed, the Region, which does not yet have records of any positive case, cannot stay that way.

Jorge Novais says that today, we heard the Regional Government of Madeira say that it will impose the quarantine regime on those who arrive in the Region. And it is clear that the Regional Government can decide what it wants, but the important thing is the next phase. And in relation to national citizens (foreign citizens represent another situation), are they obliged to comply with measures that were taken unconstitutionally? No. Who can even be held responsible for taking these measures is the Regional Government. The Regional Government has no competence to impose this type of quarantine. And even in relation to foreign citizens, only the State, and not the Autonomous Region, has this competence.

What is not mentioned in this article is where the EU stands in all this – they may rank above national governments in taking decisions to close airports?

Cruise ship turned away

This morning saw the cruise ship ‘Marella Celebration’ approach the Port of Funchal, where it had a reservation to make a stopover. Coming from the port of Saint John’s, in Antigua Barbuda, the small passenger ship is on a transatlantic voyage. She was caught by the restriction imposed on the disembarkation of non-resident passengers on cruise ships, which can only dock for supply and maintenance.

After about an hour almost stopped off the bay of Funchal, the ‘Marella Celebration’ resumed its march, finding itself already entering the ‘Mar da Travessa’, possibly in the direction of Lisbon, where there are also restrictive measures in force for ships coming from abroad.

Jaime kindly sent in a graphic illustration of the visit. He reports hearing a cruise ship blast it’s whistle this morning and saw Marella Celebration stood offshore. She’s en route from Bridgetown, Barbados to Limassol, Cyprus and was due here today I guess.

Rumour has it he wanted to come in for fuel, but with the notice he had about the port closed you would have thought he would have diverted to the Canaries where he could have taken fuel from a bunker barge at anchor and avoid entering port there.

In a separate incident, a yacht arrived in port from Fort Louis, France, and is awaiting permission to refuel.

President requests closure of the airport

The Diario website reports the news that this lunchtime that the President of the Regional Government of Madeira will ask for Madeira Airport to be closed.

Miguel Albuquerque and other elements of the Madeiran Executive, understand that the isolation of the island is fundamental to prevent the coronavirus from affecting the population, requiring, therefore, radical measures that substantially reduce the risk of spread.

The Regional Government was left with no response from the Republic to the request to prohibit connections to countries that are referenced by the WHO, such as Italy, Spain, Denmark, France, among others, but Albuquerque says he is now back in charge and intends to close all and any connection with the outside. The request will be made to António Costa and intends to take immediate effect.

Grupo Pestana temporarily closes 12 hotels in Madeira and Porto Santo

The Diario reports tonight that fall in the tourism sector and the consequent cancellation of reservations is affecting several hotel groups, including the Pestana Group, which has decided to temporarily close 12 hotels in the archipelago, eleven in Madeira and one in Porto Santo. The information was confirmed by the administrator of the Group, Paulo Prada, speaking to Antena 1 Madeira.

The Vila Galé Group will also progressively close several hotel units in the country, and their space in Santa Cruz may be at risk.

The Diario is aware that Pestana Group’s workers have already been informed about the measure that follows the economic and social effects caused by COVID-19 worldwide and, especially, in the flow of tourism. Apart from the 12 hotels to be provisionally closed, the Pestana Casino Park Hotel will remain open.

Update19:00: In a weird about-turn, the administrator of the Pestana Group, Paulo Prada, has just denied the news advanced by Antena 1 Madeira that the largest Portuguese hotel group led by Madeira businessman Dionísio Pestana would temporarily close 12 hotels in Madeira and Porto Santo. Paulo Prada says that he “did not speak to anyone” and refutes the information advanced in the regional news of Antena 1, clarifying that he is not even aware of the situation.

“Single figures” tourists arrive in Madeira today

Before mid-afternoon today around 400 passengers had disembarked at Madeira International, the overwhelming majority being residents. The Regional Secretary for Tourism and Culture says that the tourists who arrived in Madeira this Sunday could be “counted” on the fingers and are obliged to go straight into to quarantine. 17 flights arrived before 17:00, the majority of them being empty,

Canaries flights suspended

He also confirmed that Binter’s connections to the Canaries are suspended to prevent the respective crews based in the Region from being covered by the quarantine. He also admitted that Madeira Porto Santo inter-island flights will be readjusted to the new reality.





6 thoughts on “More rolling news …”

  1. What happens to people on the island who are scheduled to return to the UK with the usual carriers – presumably they will not be sending empty planes out?

  2. World news and newspapers the amount of business they making. They could show example and donate some of their profits to the NHS and help their country people.

  3. The UK FCO now advise against all but essential travel to the archipelagos of Madeira and The Azores due to restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

  4. With resent events in this blog and others about COVID-19 informing people about Madeira and the Azores islands, with Mainland Portugal. Blogs are impotent as they can be quick with information to the public. Like to thank Admin for the on going work.


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