Much of the country went into voluntary isolation to avoid spreading the new coronavirus, the National Maritime Authority banned “sports or leisure activities that involve crowds of people on the beaches”, several commercial spaces were forced to close in certain time periods and to limit the its occupation (this is the case, for example, of restaurants, shopping centers and terraces) and the authorities generally recommend that crowds in small spaces be avoided. The recommendations, however, do not seem to be fully followed at Lisbon Airport.
Some photographs sent this Sunday to the Observer, taken from the lunch hour of the same day, March 15, illustrate a somewhat contradictory scenario with the recommendations of the health authorities: in the area of terminal two of the airport of the Portuguese capital, it is possible to see a concentration of a large number of people.
The situation was reported by a Ground Assistance Traffic Technician (ITAE) from the handling company Portway to the Observer, who confirmed the authenticity of the photographs and the information that they were actually taken this weekend. The worker preferred not to identify himself, for fear of possible professional consequences following his complaints.
“These situations are repeated daily, around lunch time and 5 pm. These are moments of special influx of passengers and in which flight delays are recorded, which in addition makes people flock to very small spaces, in my view with little hygiene and safety conditions “, complains this employee, who he works specifically “in the area of check in and boarding”, that is, in terminal 2 of Lisbon Airport, some years ago – and who has been working at the Airport for more than a decade.
Being in this situation creates a nuisance for employees and passengers. It doesn't make much sense to listen to recommendations for avoiding crowds and then see large clusters of people in spaces as small as this one is. Terminal 2 does not have the capacity to gather so many people and given recommendations for social distance it is normal for people to be more concerned, being confined there with so many people ”, criticizes the technician.
The Portway employee also says that “only three or four days ago” the company provided “gloves, masks and disinfectants” to employees who work in areas as busy at Lisbon Airport as terminal 2, which he considers too late since “ the situation (of the outbreak) has been a reality for a long time ”. According to the technician, several employees, before receiving protective material, went to fellow security guards at Lisbon airport asking them to dispense material such as gloves, for example.
The Observer contacted yet another employee who works at the company in similar roles who corroborated the complaints. “There are several peaks of affluence, at least two to three peaks during the day. One of the peaks is in the morning, another after lunch and then in the afternoon ”.
The country is in a state of alert and these news all worry us. We see everything closing, establishments that receive crowds with restrictions – shopping centers, cinemas and so on – and we are there under those conditions ”, lamented the second official heard by the Observer.
The company, pointed out this second employee, "has been sending e-mails every other day, with updates on what will be done from now on, but they are only preventive measures, such as washing your hands". Regarding the protective material, this second employee revealed that this Sunday “there was disinfectant but there were no gloves”. This is a situation “that can be seen, because we know that we are in a situation where there is a shortage”, but that motivates concerns to employees, which the company tried to calm in the last internal circular, in which it guaranteed to be “making efforts to replace the material – gloves and disinfectants -, so that there was no lack ”.
Regarding the absence of protective material at an early stage of the spread of the outbreak, the information was corroborated by the second employee to the Observer: “Without absolute certainty, but I think the material arrived at the company three days ago. Before there was no material, we had not been given anything, and I know that there was material such as gloves requested from security personnel ”at the airport, he pointed out.
Contacted by the Observer about complaints of “concentration and agglomeration of people in the area of terminal two of Lisbon Airport”, ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, which manages airports such as Humberto Delgado, in Lisbon, reacted by rejecting responsibilities for this alleged excessive agglomeration .
In a written message, the company defends: “ANA, through notices placed in the terminal and its teams in the AHD, communicates the DGS recommendations to passengers, including respect for the minimum distance between people, asking for the civic collaboration of passengers and of people in the public area of airports ”.
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