With the contagion curve soaring and expectations that it will continue to grow, Portugal will confine 70% of its population as of November 4 but it will not close schools, commercial establishments or restaurants.
The measure was adopted this Saturday in an extraordinary Council of Ministers, in which it was decided to apply the restrictions to municipalities with more than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, which reaches 121 locations, including Lisbon and Porto.
The 7.1 million citizens who reside in these municipalities, of a country of just over 10 million inhabitantsThey should only leave the house for essential activities, such as working, going to schools, shopping, assisting the elderly or exercising outdoors.
However, commercial establishments and restaurants will remain open, although dThey must close at the latest at 10 p.m. and 10.30 p.m., respectively.
Further, telework will be mandatory, events and celebrations are limited to five people, unless they are living together, and fairs and markets are prohibited.
“The month of November is going to be very hard”said the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, at a press conference after the Council, where he explained that he will request an audience with the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, to address a possible declaration of a state of emergency in municipalities with high risk .
The list of municipalities that will be affected by these new measures – the majority in the northern region, the metropolitan area of Lisbon and the Tagus Valley and the center – will be updated every 15 days, and Costa warned that within two weeks the number of locations will probably increase.
These restrictions come at a time when the contagion curve is skyrocketing in Portugal, which on Friday it registered record numbers of infections (4,656 cases) and daily deaths (40), as well as patients admitted to intensive care units (275).
This Saturday, the country reported another 4,007 positives and 39 deaths, and the number of patients in ICUs marked a new high for the entire pandemic, with 286 admitted.
“This rise, if we do nothing, will lead us to a situation of unsustainable pressure in the National Health System”The prime minister warned, who explained that the average rate of positivity in the tests since the pandemic began is 4.1% but in October it increased to 8%.
Costa, who insisted that the Government prioritizes the “balance between maximum effectiveness in controlling the pandemic and minimal disturbance in the lives of citizens“, he appealed to the individual responsibility of the Portuguese:” Everything depends on us. We know that we can trust health workers, but we also have to know that we have a duty to help them, “he said.
Further, He assured that he understands the “tiredness” that the population feels after months of pandemicBut he asked the Portuguese to “imagine the fatigue that all those who work in hospitals feel.”
Among the measures analyzed, Costa confirmed that curfew and general lockdown were studied in early December -to control the situation before Christmas-, but explained that to put these restrictions into practice it would be necessary to declare a state of emergency.
The state of emergency, which was already in force in the country between March 19 and May 2, must be declared by the president of the country after a favorable opinion from the Government and an authorization from Parliament.
Portugal is currently in a state of calamity – one notch below the emergency – and until 6:00 a.m. on day 3, mobility between municipalities is restricted to avoid the usual trips on the All Saints weekend.