Azores government to impose 8 pm weekday curfew on São Miguel island

  • Lusa
  • 14 January 2021

The island of São Miguel will from Friday (January 15) have an 8 pm compulsory curfew during the week, and a 3 pm one at the weekend.

The island of São Miguel, the most affected in the Azores by the Covid-19 pandemic, will from Friday have an 8 pm compulsory curfew during the week, and a 3 pm one at the weekend, the regional government has announced.

The measure was unveiled by the regional premier, José Manuel Bolieiro, at a news conference in Ponta Delgada on Wednesday, with the aim of halting the rapid growth in the number of Covid-19 patients on the island.

Since the 8th, when more restrictive measures began to be applied in São Miguel, there has been an 11 p.m. weekday curfew on the island, as well as schools being closed and more restrictive opening hours for shops and services. Last weekend, a ban on public transport was already imposed from 3 p.m.

In all cases, the curfew runs to 5 am the next day.

There are a number of exceptions, with people allowed to leave their homes for health reasons, to travel to work if they are unable to work remotely, and to buy essential items.

The new law, to be published in the official gazette on Thursday, also orders the closure of gyms, indoor swimming pools, casinos and gaming establishments throughout the island of São Miguel.

Health cordons are also be set up in the parishes of Rabo de Peixe (in Ribeira Grande municipality) and Ponta Garça (in Vila Franca do Campo), in force to January 22. In these areas, no one is allowed to circulate in public spaces and all educational establishments, restaurants, bars and cafes must remain closed; all cultural events and extended social interaction are also prohibited.

“Our assessment is that we must renew the measures of this pioneering system in the framework of the extension of the state of emergency for the country, so we will strengthen those that are justified and in the places where the transmission is most serious,” the regional premier said. “As I have always said, it is rather to be excessive in prudence than negligent in action. Even in the Azores, our epidemiological reality is very specific and different from island to island.”

The new measures relate exclusively to São Miguel, the archipelago’s most populous island and the one with the vast majority of the region’s coronavirus cases.

Bolieiro also announced a specific measure to support families whose children are not going to school, to be implemented retroactively to the start of the 2020/21 school year, during the periods when the respective schools were or are closed.

“The measure takes the form of full payment of the proven loss of income of one of the parents who has stayed at home to look after their children, covering as beneficiaries those households whose gross income does not exceed 3.5 minimum wages in force in the region,” he said.

The Azores region currently has 879 active coronavirus cases, of which 839 are on São Miguel, 33 on Terceira island, two on Faial and five on Flores.

To date, 2,845 cases of infection with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, have been detected in the region. There have been 23 deaths associated with Covid-19 while 1,846 people are deemed to have recovered from the virus.

Worldwide, the pandemic has claimed at least 1,963,557 lives out of the over 91.5 million infections worldwide.

In Portugal as a whole, there have been 8,236 deaths associated with Covid-19 out of 507,108 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.

The disease is transmitted by a new coronavirus detected at the end of December 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China.