Council of Ministers meeting Press Conference
A day after Portugal entered the red zone of the risk matrix for the first time, the Council of Ministers met this Thursday, 24 June, to make decisions on de-confinement.
The Minister of State and the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, announced that the Council of Ministers approved a resolution extending the calamity situation until 23h59 of 11 July and that “changes the measures applicable to certain municipalities”.
Vieira da Silva also announced that, at this moment, “Portugal is clearly in the red zone of our matrix so there are no conditions” for continuing de-confinement. The country currently registers an incidence of 129 new cases per hundred thousand inhabitants and an R(t) of 1.18.
Portugal has entered the red zone in the risk matrix, which crosses the incidence of the disease with the contagion index (Rt), but there are other indicators, such as hospitalisations, which, despite still being far from the red lines, help to compose “a situation that is complex and requires everyone’s attention,” said the minister.
There are 19 municipalities on alert.
Municipalities with 120 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (or 240 cases in the case of low density municipalities):
- Castelo de Vide
- Castro Daire
- Paredes de Coura
- Rio Maior
- São Brás de Alportel
- Torres Vedras
As of this week, there are three municipalities that are going back on deconfinement: Albufeira, Lisbon and Sesimbra. In these municipalities, restaurants and similar establishments will have to close at 3. 15h30 on weekends, as well as commercial establishments in the food sector. Supermarkets and food retail establishments will have to close at 19h00 on weekends.
25 municipalities halt deconfinement.
Municipalities with two assessments in which they register an incidence higher than 120 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants (or 240 in the case of municipalities with low population density):
- Arruda dos Vinhos
- Sobral de Monte Agraço
- Vila Franca de Xira
It will be possible to leave and enter the Lisbon Metropolitan Area with a negative test and covid certificate
Already this weekend it will be possible to leave and enter the Lisbon Metropolitan Area with a negative covid-19 test (antigen test taken less than 48 hours ago or PCR taken less than 72 hours ago) and the covid-19 digital certificate attesting to complete vaccination or recovery from the disease.
The rapid self-tests for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis will not be used to enter or leave the area. “Since they cannot have a laboratory result, the self-tests do not qualify”, revealed Mariana Vieira da Silva.
The timetable for the circulation ban will remain the same as last week, which means that this restriction will be in force between 15h00 on Friday and 06h00 on Monday. The “forms of enforcement” will also remain the same.
Telework remains compulsory only in some municipalities
There will also be no changes to the opening hours for commercial establishments, depending on the situation a particular municipality is in. The same applies to telework. “There are municipalities where it is compulsory again and others where it is no longer compulsory. This is the application of the rules that we had announced depending on the increase in incidence,” said the Minister of State and the Presidency.
The Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva rejects that there is a “total lack of control of the pandemic”, although Portugal is now in a “more serious situation”, which leads the government to “respond early” to the growth of the pandemic.
The Delta variant “is one explanation” for the increase in cases, but the executive “always” said that “the increase in social contacts” and the resumption of some “normality” would have an effect. However, “it was not expected to be this high,” she admitted.
“While we would all like to have a date for the end of this situation [the pandemic], it does not appear,” she said. But there are hopeful signs on the horizon: full vaccination of all citizens over 60 can have a “decisive effect” and the country is closer to achieving it, with “300,000 full vaccinations” per week. It is a “path of two or three weeks”, estimates Mariana Vieira da Silva.
The measures allow “time for the vaccination to reach all these ages of greater vulnerability and even all citizens”.
The Minister also revealed that economic support to the sectors most affected by the pandemic will continue. “Bearing in mind that they were scheduled to end when the deconfinement ended and it will not end, the support will be extended in terms that the Minister of the Economy will announce,” she revealed.
Risk matrix is to be maintained
The Government again rejects changing the covid-19 risk matrix, which is “the best instrument for this moment”.
“It has been throughout these months an important instrument so that when a municipality is showing a high incidence measures are taken,” said Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva.
“The measures we have taken take time and with this level of spread of the virus there is the expectation that the numbers will continue to grow,” she warned. It is necessary to vaccinate more and wait for the effects of the vaccination: the immunity conferred by the vaccine is only reached two weeks after the second dose (in the case of vaccines with two inoculations), recalled the minister.