Portugal strengthens Covid measures before New Year’s Eve

Prime minister António Costa announced on Tuesday new measures to contain the new Omicron variant.

The Portuguese government has decided to bring forward new containment measures initially planned for the beginning of January, given the increase in the number of cases and the rapid spread of the new variant Omicron in Portugal, the prime minister announced this Tuesday. The new variant already represents 46.9% of new cases.

“We will anticipate a set of measures for next week,” said António Costa, after the extraordinary Cabinet meeting. Among the measures listed by the prime minister was the requirement of a negative test to access tourist accommodation establishments, sports venues and cultural events, and also the closing of bars and clubs.

On Christmas (December 24 and 25) and New Year’s Eve (December 30, 31 and January 1), the Portuguese government will prohibit gatherings with over 10 people and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the street, and, at last,  a negative test will be needed to access restaurants, casinos and New Year’s Eve parties.

Under the government’s new decision, the new measures will be effective from December 25 to January 10.

Measures to be implemented starting on December 25:

  • A negative test is required for access to: Tourist accommodation establishments; corporate events; weddings and christenings; cultural events and sports venues;
  • Closing of bars and clubs;
  • Reduced capacity in commercial establishments (1 person / 5 m2);
  • Teleworking regime becomes mandatory;
  • Closing of kindergartens and ATL.

On Christmas (Dec 24 and 25) and New Year’s Eve (Dec 30, 31 and Jan 1):

  • A negative test is needed to access restaurants, casinos and New Year’s Eve parties;
  • All gatherings with over 10 people are prohibited;
  • Prohibition to consume alcoholic beverages in the street.

Omicron to become dominant variant in Portugal

Portugal has recorded 16 more deaths associated with Covid-19, 5,754 infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and a decrease in hospitalisation in the last 24 hours until Tuesday, the health authority (DGS) said today.

The daily epidemiological bulletin of the DGS records 904 people hospitalised, 39 fewer than on Monday, of which 153 are in intensive care units, one more in the last 24 hours.

The National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) estimates that the Omicron variant already represents almost half of cases, reaching the status of dominant variant in the country next week.

In this context, INSA’s data point to “an exponential growth in the proportion of probable cases” since December 6, “reaching an estimated proportion of 46.9% on December 20” – that is, almost half of all new cases of Covid-19 in Portugal will be of the new variant, which is potentially more transmissible than Delta and should be the dominant variant next Monday.

(Article last updated at 6h20 pm)