The Portuguese government said on Tuesday it would protect the rights of migrants picking fruit and vegetables and keep them safe from COVID-19 after a wave of infections rekindled concerns about their living conditions.
According to Reuters, as Portugal entered the final phase of relaxation from the national lockdown last week, a health closure was imposed in the southern municipality of Odemira, where hundreds of greenhouses rely on migrant workers to operate.
It is forbidden to cross from or to two parishes. One of them, Sao Teotonio, recorded 1,910 incidents per 100,000 population over a 14-day period. The country average is 64 cases.
To address the issue, the government is temporarily using a private eco-resort in Odemira, where migrants who are considered high-risk contacts can be isolated. Those identified as COVID-19 positive will be transferred to local accommodation.
“Immigrant public health is our priority,” Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita said during a visit to Odemira.
“I want everyone who comes to work in Portugal to have the same rights as Portuguese working abroad,” he added.