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Here is your weekly news overview…
As of last night, the lighting of the new Tavira bridge was switched on and from today, Tuesday 30th March, "all Tavirans will be able to enjoy this infrastructure" siad the Câmara of Tavira.
"The delay in the certification and contracting processes for electricity, which were dependent on external entities, affected its opening", claimed the municipality.
In December 2019, a manifest had been presented at the Municipal Assembly where a group of 24 architects, including Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto Moura, requested the Tavira Câmara to rethink the project for the new bridge in the historic center of City.
In the document, the architects appealed to the municipality to have the "courage" to "take a step back" and to stop "to reflect in favour of defining a comprehensive urban intervention strategy" for the riverfront.
However, the Câmara de Tavira maintained its opinion on the need for the existence of a bridge at the defined location, arguing that it would be “in perfect harmony with the heritage and landscape”.
For the autarchy, the city “will not be harmed in any way by this new crossing” on the contrary, it will benefit and enhance the noble area of the city”.
At the time, in November 2019, the citizen movement 'Tavira Semper' publicized its intention to halt the construction of the new bridge in the city, arguing that it was a solution that would go “against the will of the population”.
The new bridge over the Gilão River replaces the previous temporary bridge. This was built in the wake of the 1989 floods to bridge the damage caused by the old bridge over the Gilão River, and ended up being active for 30 years, but has been closed to traffic for more than four years for safety reasons.
The Covid-19 situation at local level continues to improve, with only 32 municipalities above 120 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants and more than two thirds of the country are within the “green zone”.
There are currently 32 municipalities with more than 120 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants, 16 less than last week, according to data updated this Monday by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).
Most of the country is just below the green line established by the experts and there are 48 municipalities that have not registered any new cases in these 14 days.
In the Algarve, Monchique is the only municipality without a case in two weeks, in addition to 12 municipalities in the Central region, 11 in the Alentejo, 9 in the North, 8 in the Azores, 4 in Lisbon and 3 in Madeira.
In comparison with the data released last week, the incidence of Covid decreased or remained the same in 75% of the territory (231 municipalities). In other words, in 170 municipalities the number of cases decreased and in 61 there were no changes. Those Algarve municipalities with decreased cases or no increase are Faro (59) , Loulé (45) , Vila do Bispo (39) , Aljezur and Silves (36) , São Brás de Alportel (19) and Olhão (18).
The 77 municipalities to have a the highest increase in cases are Machico, Alcoutim, Moura, Ribeira Brava, Odemira, Belmonte, Marinha Grande, Rio Maior and Figueiró dos Vinhos, with more than 240 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants, with the first five even having more than 300 new infections per 100 thousand inhabitants.
The lowest of the 16 municipalities in the Algarve, having less than 120 and more than 60 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants are: Albufeira (108) , Tavira (106) , Castro Marim (80) , Vila Real de Santo António (75) and Lagos (63).
The coordinator of the task force for the vaccination program in Portugal has announced in parliament today that the much needed 150 rapid Covid-19 vaccination centres will start operating in early May.
Asked by deputies of the parliamentary health committee, Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo started by stating that the 150 centers will be opened on April 11, but said that “we aim to have these centres operating from the beginning of May".
Gouveia e Melo said that the ways in which the necessary health professionals will be hired for these units are being negotiated, with an estimated number of 2,500 nurses, 400 doctors and 2,300 assistants being needed. He said that the professionals will be essentially from the National Health Service (SNS), but others will be hired as necessary.
“The idea is to use up to 20% of the 9,000 nurses who are in primary health care, then additional nurses from alternative resources ”he said.
According to the official, in rapid vaccination posts, the efficiency of the process is four times higher than vaccination in normal health centers.
“With the same human resources, we managed to have a much higher efficiency in this process, in addition to convenience, in addition to physical security, because they are made in large airy spaces, which allows greater security and physical distance”, defended Gouveia e Melo.
Left Bloc deputy Moisés Ferreira considered it to be “a bit of a paradox” for the task force coordinator to say it is necessary to hire thousands of professionals, including nurses, at a time when the Portuguese Nurses Union says that there are almost 2,000 professionals in a precarious situation, with a risk of being dismissed from the SNS.
“Perhaps there is an obvious solution here, which is not to dismiss nurses who are in a precarious situation, but to give them a dignified and stable contract”, defended the deputy blocker.
The Covid-19 pandemic has already caused 16,845 deaths in Portugal, among the 821,104 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.
The UK Government is extending support for potentially at-risk groups including pensioners, disabled people and those with language difficulties who live in Europe by continuing the activity of the UK Nationals Support Fund (UKNSF) and supplementing it with an additional £1 million, bringing the total to £4 million.
The UKNSF provides funds to eight organisations to support UK Nationals who need assistance with their residency applications. These organisation operate in 11 EU Member States and Norway, and since the launch of the Fund in March 2020, have provided practical support for over 350,000 UK Nationals who need assistance with the process of applying/registering for residency in 12 European countries, following the end of the Transition Period. This funding is in addition to £3 million announced by the Foreign Secretary in March 2020.
The UKNSF will continue to operate in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Malta and Norway.
The UKNSF will continue to be delivered by:
This assistance builds on the ongoing outreach and guidance provided by the UK’s network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates across Europe.
UK Nationals in Portugal should visit the Living in Portugal Guide at: www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-portugal to check what action they may need to take.
The president of Quercus in the Algarve has criticised the “lack of awareness” in the environmental defense of an area in Garrão, Loulé, where a developer was the target of a second administrative offense for acting improperly on a piece of land within the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Speaking to news agency Lusa, Cláudia Sil of Quercus said that the company Lisfina sealed a piece of land that it owns in the protected area of the Algarve coast with barbed wire, threatening the environment, which gave rise to a misdemeanor by the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF ), which had already initiated a similar procedure for “abusive” deforestation.
"The land was relatively naturalised and conserved and it was the local population were outraged and filed the first complaint, when they saw and noticed the felling of pine trees, some centenarians, large pines," said the environmentalist, recalling the origin of the first administrative offense.
The land is located in an area of the Algarve coast located between the luxury developments of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago, areas of the municipality of Loulé where housing prices are among the most expensive in the country.
The director of Quercus in the Algarve said that, “officially, no project for the area is known”, but argued that, “informally, the objective of that company, which is in the real estate industry, is to build in the area”, something that “can only be done in a small area, because the area is inserted in the Natural Park [of Ria Formosa]”.
Asked by Lusa about the alleged intention of building real estate in that place, the Mayor of Loulé stressed that no project in this sense was submitted to the municipality, criticising the deforestation carried out on the land.
“[Deforestation] It was something that made me very sad. We imposed measures, within our sphere of competence, but there is nothing, strictly nothing, licensed ”, stressed Vítor Aleixo.
After people's complaints were the basis of the first complaint and administrative offense, “it was thought that this would demote the company”, but the actions in the area “continued” and led to the installation of the fence, giving rise to a new participation by Quercus, last November, which culminated in the establishment, by ICNF, of a new administrative offense, according to a letter from the institute.
“The local resident population, after the felling of the pines stopped, felt reassured and thought that the company had dismissed its original intentions, but what has happened is that during all these months - in July, August, September, October - there were groundworks taking place instead”, Vítor Aleixo lamented.
Cláudia Sil noted that “interventions in a natural park are subject to prior authorisation by the ICNF”, stressing that, in the letter, dated March 2021, the institute reported “that, in fact, the promoter made an authorisation request and the ICNF did not authorise it ”.
“But the prosecutor decided to put a fence up so that no one would access the grounds. However, the fence also has environmental consequences, not only preventing the movement of people, but also of animals. And even more serious, it has barbed wire”, she criticised. She went on to clarify that Quercus not only denounced the installation of the fence, but also “earth movements or vehicle traffic, which must also be authorised”, however these other movements “were not subject to the administrative offense” because “there was no evidence” .
The Quercus manager also criticised the construction of car parks and a walkway in the area by the Polis Litoral da Ria Formosa, considering that “at the moment it serves no one” and gives a “wrong” signal to the promoters that “in the future it can serve the construction".
“We are talking about a section that is between two of the most expensive developments in the Algarve [Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo], we can imagine the value that it represents in terms of real estate. I suppose that, for the company, paying these small fines is not very significant ”, she sais, criticising everyone's“ lack of awareness ” in the defense of recognised environmental values.
In addition to belonging to the Natural Park, the area is also an integral part of the Natura2000 Network and the Ramsar convention, so there must be a stronger defense of the present environmental values, else we are at risk of losing a rich wet area for living and nesting of several species and for a more sustainable tourism in the Algarve.
Lusa news agency tried to contact Lisfina to obtain statements about the administrative offense via a telephone contact number available 'online', but the number is deactivated.
Algarvedailynews have since received the following statement from Lisfina:
Lisbon, April 1, 2021 - Following the news published on the alleged misdemeanor by the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), Lisfina would like to clarify the following:
1. Lisfina is not aware of any offense, either on the placement of barbed wire on the Praia do Ancão beach in who owns; either about deforestation procedure "abusive".
2. In May 2020, an Embargo Notice was effectively lifted to the cleaning work that was underway on the ground, which it was promptly welcomed. Since then, Lisfina has no knowledge of any investigation process with a view to the application of administrative offense.
3. The fence was restored to private property after acts of vandalism that took place in June 2020, including demolition of the fence, cutting the fence and cutting pine trees by strangers, who were object of complaint with the GNR.
4. Lisfina has maintained regular contact with the ICNF and the Chamber Municipality of Loulé, having presented, in December 2020, a Forest Management Plan elaborated in a proactive way, without legally required, in order to enhance the location from the point of view landscaped, awaiting approval from the same.
Enjoy the Easter weekend. More news next week!
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