• 2020.05.20
  • COVID-19
Here’s another post on the novel coronavirus.
Far from calming down, the virus only continues to spread—and not a day goes by where you don’t see COVID-19 all over the news. I’m even getting COVID-19 warnings sent to my phone all the time.
“The such-and-such center is closed until such-and-such date.”
“Such-and-such shop is offering delivery only.”
“The XX supermarket hours have changed.”
“Mafra city information”
“Mafra infection data”
And so on…

Community bulletin boards and social media are full of humorous COVID-19 images and videos, and virus warnings are being sent out from everywhere. And just when you think they’re telling you how to prevent yourself from getting it, we get the next message apologizing and saying that whatever they just told us to do won’t work.
I get that there is more fear being generated by the “infodemic” than the coronavirus pandemic, but my smartphone keeps blowing up with dings and alerts and noises more than it ever has.

We’re already six weeks into the State of Emergency declaration in Portugal, but people were taking prompt and serious action even before that.
The country closed its borders and restricted overseas travel, and my city of Mafra was one of the first to shut down municipal facilities like pools, gyms, libraries, museums, and indoor markets. Once the stay-at-home order was issued, you could no longer go to parks or beaches either. And, this may be unique to Mafra, but every family was supplied with eight masks, which were delivered to home mailboxes.
Our schools closed fairly early on as well.

Still, what really impressed me was how fast they took measures to support distribution.
Stores naturally limited the number of people in them, but if you wanted to check display items, you were handed silicone gloves and required to wear them, and then tell the person what you wanted by phoning them from the entrance to the store so that an employee could look for it and bring it to the register for you.

The large supermarkets keep ramping up their anti-COVID measures each time you go—to the point where I found myself going there just in a spirit of research.
-Entrances are limited to one location
-Only the elderly are allowed in before 10 AM or so
-They’ve always been clean, but now the staff are constantly wiping down cooler handles and everything else with disinfectant
-Used and unused shopping carts and baskets are strictly separated, and handles are disinfected before use
-Cashiers disinfect the conveyor belt, their hands, and the card readers between each customer
-The next time I went, the cashiers were protected by acrylic panels and the entire register was being disinfected between customers… and the next person couldn’t put their products by the register until the cashier instructed them to do so
-The other employees were all wearing face shields—something like plastic sheets covering their faces, but they were homemade!

I couldn’t help but feel happy about how far they were going to protect everyone.

I’m sure that at some point the restrictions will start to lift and we’ll be able to move around freely again, but I hope supermarket employees continue to show off their efforts to protect everyone from the coronavirus.


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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