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‘Pandemic is affecting fire prevention’ efforts, warns President Marcelo

90fire preventionPresident of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, admitted at the weekend, in Loulé, that the pandemic has drastically affected efforts typically taken for the prevention of fires, making combat conditions “difficult”, especially due to the extreme heat being experienced this summer season.

“As for prevention, it’s suffered, it must be said, in fact, especially from the pandemic. The months that were crucial months of the transition from spring to summer are months gone by,” he told reporters during a visit to a nursing home in Boliqueime, Loulé.

“The fact that people couldn’t leave home, due to confinement, or were very limited between March and June, turned out to be a limitation, which now requires a combat in difficult conditions,” he added.

“So far what can be said is that, in most cases, there has been a capacity for response, especially in large cases, for large fires”, he noted, lamenting the recent death of two firefighters on the ground whilst fighting a wildfire in Central Portugal over the weekend.

In the nursing home that the President of the Republic visited on Sunday, which had been a focal point of COVID-19 back in April, with around 40 residents and employees infected, was one of the biggest localised outbreaks seen in carehomes in the region. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was received with applause and kind words at the institution, received an image of the patron saint of Boliqueime, São Sebastião, blessed by the local parish priest.

The head of state also commented on Parliament’s decision to end biweekly discussions with Prime Minister António Costa, stressing that the National Assembly is free to define its way of functioning.

“The President of the Republic does not comment on how parliament works. Parliament is free to define that. On top of that, it does not go to the President, it is an internal regulation that defines how it works and that I respect that”, he said, urged by journalists to comment on the end of the fortnightly debates. Saying that he can only speak for himself, before a working dinner with mayors in Querença, Loulé.

Given the insistence of journalists on the topic of the Prime Minister now being required to visit parliament only every two months, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa reiterated that he could not add anything else, since it would meddle in the “internal nature” of the Assembly of the Republic.

“It is not up to the President to make these assessments, neither about parliament, nor about party leaders”, he concluded.