– Oh girl, you have to leave the mask on the face …
The warning is given in a condescending tone by a Funchal PSP agent to a “girl” who is over 70 years old. Maria (fictitious name) is sitting next to a bus stop, calmly, and responds to the warning with an insult. Another policeman intervenes in the same tone to say that the “ambulance is coming”. Although seated, the woman seems impatient and, at the same time, indifferent to the fact that she has two police cars and at least four policemen around her, protected by masks and gloves, who do not dare approach her. They just want to hand it over to the health authorities.
It is the second time in less than 24 hours that Maria leaves home, violating the quarantine imposed by the regional government of Madeira, even before the state of emergency was declared. He arrived on a flight from Brazil to return to his home in Santa Cruz, on March 20, jumping to one of the targets in the list of measures imposed days before the new coronavirus arrived on the island of Madeira, when he was already climbing in mainland Portugal. In addition to forcing all those who landed in Funchal, coming from countries with positive cases of Covid-19, to remain in quarantine, the regional government also determined the closure of ports and marinas to the entrance of vessels and the control of body temperature at airports.
Maria didn’t want to know. Last Tuesday, they heard her say loud and clear at the Anadia shopping center in Funchal, which had recently arrived from Brazil, but which he refused to retire at home for 14 days waiting for possible symptoms of the disease that caused a pandemic. Someone bothered by what he heard warned the police and, minutes later, Maria was being forced by the PSP to put on a mask and get into the patrol car. Images captured by Diário de Notícias das Madeira and posted on Youtube show the woman dressed in black, scarf around her neck and shopping bag in her hands, calmly entering the police car. According to what the Observer found out, she was constituted accused and taken home.
Twelve hours later, however, the PSP ended up receiving a new call. The woman he had stopped the day before was strolling through the mall again. This time, dressed in red. The images also posted on Youtube show her sitting, surrounded by policemen – wearing masks and keeping her distance – and oblivious to the risk of being infected or of being able to infect someone. In this second detention for disobedience, however, the elderly woman was handed over to the health authorities, to ensure that she would protect herself in the coming days.
This Sunday, a week ago, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, declared a state of emergency across the country and the Government defined the rules by which everyone should be governed: infected people or under surveillance are obliged to stay at home; anyone arriving from abroad must remain isolated in quarantine, in some places; those over 70 and chronically ill are advised to be completely confined; everyone else must collect the house and just go out to work, if they can’t do it at home, go shopping, walk the animals, for example. Those who did not, could be accused of disobedience.
These days, according to Saturday’s balance sheet sent by the Ministry of Internal Administration, the authorities have already reported 69 detainees by PSP and GNR for this crime and a total of 1,509 establishments forcibly closed, after not following the order to close the doors, as they are not considered essential services.