Portuguese return to cafes and schools

Alison Roberts

BBC News, Lisbon

Pasteis de Belem shop, 18 May 20
A famous Lisbon custard tart shop is back in business

Portugal has reopened cafes, restaurants and many more shops, in a new phase of easing restrictions.

Creches have also reopened, with children removing shoes at the door and smaller groups in each room.

In schools, some face-to-face classes have resumed for older pupils, with caretakers in protective kit at the entrances, wielding hand sanitiser.

But school heads report that many children failed to turn up, under flexible rules allowing worried parents to keep them at home if they choose.

Portugal has been hit far less hard by coronavirus than its neighbour Spain.

But after two weeks in which smaller shops and salons reopened, surveys show many people are still reluctant to leave home except for work or essential purchases.

Prime Minister António Costa was shown on TV visiting shops and cafes in Lisbon at the weekend, and he urged citizens to come out into the streets.

Couple’s ‘claustrophobic’ lockdown in a van abroad

Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley

Digital Journalist

Image of Andrew Pilkington sitting in his van
Andrew Pilkington

A couple stuck in a van in Portugal say living in a van during lockdown has been “claustrophobic at times”.

Musician Andrew Pilkington, 34, said since mid-March it has been a “challenge” having to have bucket showers, not being able to cook standing up and living on top of each other in such a small space.

He said the van had been purpose-built to only be slept in and said he will never take showers and toilets “for granted” again.

The couple left Bristol driving to Morocco on 29 January but had to adapt to life living out of their van in Portugal, 24-hours-a-day under the coronavirus lockdown.

Image of the live-in van
Andrew Pilkington

More cycle lanes planned in EU cities

A cyclist near Notre Dame Cathedral, 30 Mar 20
Getty Images
A cyclist near Notre Dame Cathedral in the Paris lockdown

The lockdown has cut traffic pollution everywhere and there are now moves to make greener cities the new normal:

  • The French government has announced €20m (£17m; $22m) for pro-cycling measures, including more cycle lanes and a €50 voucher for repairing a bike. Businesses reopen on 11 May and there is concern that many people, fearing catching coronavirus on public transport, may use their cars, creating more traffic jams
  • In Belgium there is a new scheme to create 40km (25 miles) of cycle lanes in central Brussels, which suffers from traffic jams
  • Russia reports another record rise in coronavirus cases: its total is now above 106,000, after a 7% increase in cases in one day. Officially the number of Covid-19 deaths is 1,073
  • Germany’s respected Robert Koch Institute (RKI) says the German infection rate – also called the reproduction or R rate - has dropped to 0.75, from 1. The figure 1 is important: anything above that means the virus could spread again exponentially. At 0.75 it means 10 infected people will on average infect 7.5 others
  • Portugal is to announce a detailed plan for easing its lockdown in phases. It is expected to allow small local shops and hairdressers to reopen from Monday. The pandemic has hit Portugal far less hard than its neighbour Spain

How Angolan music saved Pongo's soul

She met a kuduro band by chance and ended up being their lead singer

DJ Edu

This Is Africa


Pongo has an extraordinary story – and yet in many ways it's very familiar.

Even though her English isn't perfect, she tells it so well, as I discovered when I hooked up with her via Zoom this week. She was brought from Angola to Portugal as a child with her parents and two sisters.

They left everything and everyone they knew behind, including grandparents, aunties, cousins and friends.

They spent the first year in a single room they shared with at least one other man.

The parents worked hard at menial jobs and stayed firmly within the Angolan community. Angola was still their reference.

The stress got to them and it was intolerable to their spirited daughter, Pongo.

She missed Angola and the fun and freedom she had had there desperately, but she also wanted to discover her new home, Portugal, and to belong there.

She threw herself out of a second-floor window.

But here’s where the positive energy that Pongo embodies really kicks in.

She survived the fall, and though her legs were badly broken, she hooked up with a kuduro group she’d met on her way to physiotherapy.

She began dancing and singing with them and by the time she was 15 she was lead singer on a massive hit with the Portuguese group Buraka Som Sistema.

View more on youtube

Music pretty much saved her soul.

The song Wegue Wegue was inspired by the diss songs Pongo remembered from her childhood in Angola.

Eleven years later, Pongo has just released a solo EP, Uwa. All the songs are also inspired by that all important Angolan childhood: "I will never change that. It is a part of me. It is my refuge."

The full interview with Pongo will be available here from Saturday evening.