Portugal’s President says country may need “much stricter confinement”

  • Lusa
  • 8 January 2021

The other scenario, which avoids the imposition of even more restrictive measures, involves a return to "4,000, 5,000, 6,000 cases per day," says Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has considered two scenarios for measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that if the infections remain at the most recent levels, much more stringent containment will be necessary.

In the debate with Vitorino Silva, in the context of the presidential elections, broadcast on RTP3, De Sousa, who is also running for a second term of office, said that, given the possible worsening of the pandemic crisis, with an increase in contagion from the new coronavirus, there are two scenarios on the table.

“The first scenario is that we return to 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 cases per day,” which translates into a reduction in the number of cases over the last two days (in which the new daily infections were around 10,000), and that would mean returning to what was the regime in force until now, De Sousa said.

If the evolution of the pandemic continues at this higher rate, De Sousa warned, then much more rigorous confinement will have to be considered, except for the closure of schools.

“The parties will be heard twice about this, before the epidemiological session [of Tuesday] by the prime minister, after the epidemiological session by the president,” he noted, pointing out that his decision will be taken to parliament, which will authorise it.

De Sousa noted that, even with a worsening of the measures, the election campaign will not be in question, because the political activity is safeguarded by law, and must be safeguarded in any case by the presidential decree and its implementation.

Also, the lack of definition to allow people to go to the polling places will be taken into account, he assured, anticipating that on 24 January there will be freedom of movement, allowing people to vote.

The president, and candidate, also said that, before setting the date for the presidential elections, he had doubts about a possible postponement, so he listened to the parties with parliamentary representation, which refused this postponement.

“Unlike the other elections, for the presidential elections, the constitution itself sets the terms determining the date, or the possible dates of the election, because the date is set according to the end of the president’s previous term of office.

De Sousa also said he had chosen to call elections later because the parliament approved new legislation, which came into force in November, and provides for the possibility of home voting for those in isolation due to Covid-19.

He called on citizens to vote, which will require a brutal electoral machine, and thanked especially those who go to the voters’ houses to collect the votes.

The prime minister will receive the parties with parliamentary representation on Thursday and on Saturday to examine the possibility of adopting more restrictive measures from next week to halt the increase in Covid-19 cases in Portugal.

Portugal has had at least 7,472 deaths associated with Covid-19 in 456,533 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest health authority (DGS) bulletin.

The state of emergency decreed on November 9 to combat the pandemic was renewed with effect from 12 am on January 8 until 15.