Portugal will remain in a state of public calamity at least until November 15, but with new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The whole of mainland Portugal is to remain in a state of public calamity at least until November 15, while 121 of the country’s municipalities – most of them in the Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas – are to go into partial lockdown from Wednesday, according to new government measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
At an extraordinary cabinet meeting that lasted most of Saturday, the prime minister, António Costa, announced that it had approved a set of “measures with maximum effectiveness and minimum disruption” aimed at bringing the pandemic under control, without resorting to a state of emergency, under which some constitutional rights can be suspended.
Nevertheless, Costa said that he had already asked the country’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, for an audience to discuss the possible need to declare a state of emergency in the municipalities with the highest rates of new coronavirus infections.
In identifying the municipalities to be locked down, Costa said, the government had decided to apply the general criterion used by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), of “more than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days”. He added that exceptions had been made for outbreaks located in low-density municipalities.
There follows a summary of the main measures approved on Saturday:
The government has decided to renew the state of public calamity that has been in force throughout mainland Portugal since 15 October until midnight on 15 November, given the epidemiological situation.
For the whole of mainland Portugal, the number of people in each group in restaurants is to be limited to six, unless they belong to the same household.
Following the criterion of over 240 cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days and/or the proximity to another municipality in that situation, 121 municipalities in mainland Portugal are to be subject to a partial lockdown from Wednesday.
The list of municipalities is to be updated every 15 days, following the same criterion.
The special measures to be implemented are those already in place in the municipalities of Felgueiras, Lousada and Paços de Ferreira, in northern Portugal, with some changes; these measures include:
- A “civic duty” to stay at home, except for all journeys already authorised in advance
- Commercial establishments to close by 10 p.m.
- Restaurants to close by 10.30 p.m.
- Mayors may set an earlier closing time, subject to the assent of the local health authority and security forces
- Events and celebrations with more than five people are prohibited unless those present belong to the same household
- No fairs or street markets to be held
- Religious ceremonies and shows are allowed, in line with Directorate-General for Health rules
- Obligation to work from home where possible, unless the worker is prevented from doing so
- Exceptional and transitional regime of reorganisation of work applicable to companies with premises with 50 or more workers
Besides Felgueiras, Lousada and Paços de Ferreira, these measures are from Wednesday to cover the municipalities of Alcácer do Sal, Alcochete, Alenquer, Alfândega da Fé, Alijó, Almada, Amadora, Amarante, Amares, Arouca, Arruda dos Vinhos, Aveiro, Azambuja, Baião, Barcelos, Barreiro, Batalha, Beja, Belmonte, Benavente, Borba, Braga, Bragança, Cabeceiras de Basto, Cadaval, Caminha, Cartaxo, Cascais, Castelo Branco, Castelo de Paiva, Celorico de Basto, Chamusca, Chaves, Cinfães, Constância, Covilhã, Espinho, Esposende, Estremoz, Fafe, Figueira da Foz, Fornos de Algodres, Fundão, Gondomar, Guarda, Guimarães, Idanha-a-Nova, Lisbon, Loures, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Mafra, Maia, Marco de Canaveses, Matosinhos, Mesão Frio, Mogadouro, Moimenta da Beira, Moita, Mondim de Basto, Montijo, Murça, Odivelas, Oeiras, Oliveira de Azeméis, Oliveira de Frades, Ovar, Palmela, Paredes de Coura, Paredes, Penacova, Penafiel, Peso da Régua, Pinhel, Ponte de Lima, Porto, Póvoa de Varzim, Póvoa do Lanhoso, Redondo, Ribeira da Pena, Rio Maior, Sabrosa, Santa Comba Dão, Santa Maria da Feira, Santa Marta de Penaguião, Santarém, Santo Tirso, São Brás de Alportel, São João da Madeira, São João da Pesqueira, Sardoal, Seixal, Sesimbra, Setúbal, Sever do Vouga, Sines, Sintra, Sobral de Monte Agraço, Tabuaço, Tondela, Trancoso, Trofa, Vale da Cambra, Valença, Valongo, Viana do Alentejo, Viana do Castelo, Vila do Conde, Vila Flor, Vila Franca de Xira, Vila Nova de Cerveira, Vila Nova de Famalicão, Vila Nova de Gaia, Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Vila Real, Vila Velha de Ródão, Vila Verde, Vila Viçosa and Vizela.
Strengthening the National Health Service
The government approved a legislation containing measures aimed at strengthening the National Health Service (SNS) by increasing its capacity to respond to the pandemic:
- Retired nurses to be hired for coronavirus contact tracing
- A further 350 nurses to be hired for intensive care units (ICUs)
- A further 202 beds to be added in ICUs, with 52 beds to come in now, 50 by end-December and the remaining 100 in January
- Health helpline SNS24 now to be able to issue provisional declarations for people self-isolating after having come into contact with the coronavirus, to justify their absence from work