Most Portuguese regions will enter the third phase of easing the blockade of COVID-19 next week, but stricter rules will remain in place in municipalities where transmission speeds remain high, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday.
“This set of measures is neither a reward nor a punishment,” Antonio Costa told a news conference. “They are public health measures for the safety of the population, of the people.”
Portugal, which imposed a lock in January to control the worst rise of COVID-19 at the time, began lifting restrictions last month and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and café terraces, museums and hair salons.
In the last two weeks, people have gone out to enjoy the warmer spring weather, to see friends and relatives, and to enjoy eating out after more than two months at home.
From Monday, high schools, universities, cinemas, shopping malls and indoor restaurants will reopen in the vast majority of 278 municipalities in mainland Portugal, but with restrictions designed to reduce the risk of infection.
Outdoor events, weddings, baptisms can also be resumed, but according to the capacity rules.
However, in municipalities where the limit of 120 cases per 100,000 people has been reached, the rules will be different.
Seven municipalities, including the tourist town of Albufeira in the southern Algarve region, known for its beaches and golf courses but now almost deserted, will not move to the third phase of easing the lock.
Taking a step back, four municipalities, such as the largest city in western Algarve, Portimao, will introduce stricter blocking rules, such as closing terraces of cafes and other minor businesses.
“This is really a fight against the pandemic that we have to do together,” Costa said. “Efforts cannot be wasted until the vaccination process is effective.”
Portugal, a country with just over 10 million, has suffered 829,358 cases and 16,933 deaths since the start of the pandemic. To date, he has administered nearly 2.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
No crisis in recent history has affected Portugal’s tourism-dependent economy, with GDP declining by 7.6% last year, the biggest annual decline since 1936.
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