Press Conference by the Prime Minister following Council of Ministers meeting on 29th July 2021
Please read in conjunction with the Government PowerPoint which Safe Communities Portugal has translated into English here:
After a (decisive) meeting of the Council of Ministers on the measures that will be in place to combat the pandemic in Portugal, António Costa presented the decisions this Thursday, July 29, at a press conference, there will be an easing of restrictions.
The Government has set three dates for the next phase of opening up the economy and society in a “progressive and gradual manner”, the first beginning on 1 August. The Prime Minister announced that measures differentiated by municipality will no longer exist and all rules will now have a national dimension.
“Three factors justify [this measure]: the vaccination rate is now roughly homogeneous throughout the territory, secondly because the current Delta variant is predominant throughout the territory and, finally, we are entering a period of great inter-municipality and inter-regional mobility due to holidays. This differentiation would make little sense”, justified António Costa.
António Costa also announced that the use of the digital certificate (which proves that the citizen has been vaccinated against covid-19, has recovered from the disease or has obtained a negative test) will become “intensive”.
This tool will be mandatory:
- When accessing the interior of restaurants during the weekend and public holidays throughout the country;
- When travelling by sea or air;
- In tourist establishments or local accommodation;
- In gyms, in the case of group classes;
- In spas and thermal baths;
- In casinos and bingos;
- For cultural, sporting or corporate events with more than a thousand people (open environment) or 500 people (closed environment);
- Weddings, christenings or festivities with more than ten people;
According to the Government’s estimates, 85% of the population should be completely vaccinated in October. It is only after this percentage of vaccination that the country will start the third (and last) phase of this reopening.
António Costa is optimistic with the vaccination schedule defined by the task force, stating that the restrictions may be relieved sooner than expected, if the rate of the vaccinated population rises faster than expected. However, the Prime Minister warns that the pandemic still exists. And, if necessary, this deconfinement can be stopped, or frozen, as has happened before.
After much hesitation, the sector that has remained closed since the beginning of the pandemic may finally reopen. According to the Prime Minister, the expectation is that the bars and nightclubs can operate in the third phase of deconfinement, that is, sometime in October. But there will be rules. Operation will only be possible with a digital certificate or negative test.
Phase 1 – End of curfew (1 August)
- End of curfews for circulation on the public roads;
- Sporting events with an audience will be allowed (with rules to be defined by the DGS);
- Cultural shows will be allowed with 66% of the capacity;
- Weddings and christenings will be allowed with a capacity of 50%;
- Amusement parks may start operating again according to DGS rules, in a place authorized by the municipality;
- Telework goes from mandatory to recommended, when activities allow it.
In this phase, bars and nightclubs remain closed and popular festivals and pilgrimages are still not allowed to take place.
The prohibition of alcohol on public roads will remain in place for the coming weeks. António Costa says this restriction serves to “discourage gatherings” in the streets.
Phase 2 – End of mask use on public roads (early September)
- End of compulsory masking on public roads;
- Weddings and christenings 75% of full capacity;
- Cultural shows with 75% of the capacity;
- Public transport with no capacity limit;
- Public services without prior booking.
Phase 3 – Reopening of bars and nightclubs (October)
Here bars and discotheques will open – with the need to present a digital certificate and a negative test: “In this phase it will then be possible for bars and nightclubs to reopen”, said António Costa, who added that clients will have to present the digital certificates and tests that are already requested in restaurants.
Also at this stage restaurants will no longer have limitations on the capacity of their spaces.
“Up to now there has been no variant in which vaccines have not allowed us to control its impact and reduce its harmfulness. When we compare the current wave with the one in January, this is very clear. We should proceed and accelerate to complete the vaccination process. Until then, the greatest discipline among all of us, mask use and physical distance. Have confidence that the vaccination process will win the race to mutate the virus.
We will stop making the association of measures adopted weekly according to the evolution of the matrix, it is not justified at this stage with this rate of vaccination, but we will take into account the different warning signs”, said the Prime Minister.
The Government PowerPoint translated into English by Safe Communities Portugal is here.