PRIME MINISTER SPEAKS TO THE NATIONAL AFTER THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS METTING
The Extraordinary Council of Ministers, which began at 10 this Saturday morning in the Palácio da Ajuda, ended eight hours later. Prime Minister António Costa then spoke to the country and announced the measures agreed upon to halt the advance of the covid-19 pandemic.
At the end of the extraordinary Council of Ministers, António Costa recalled the beginning of the pandemic in Portugal and stressed that “the deconfinement has allowed the economy to evolve” after several months of decline.
Now, according to the Prime Minister, the challenge is to “contain the pandemic without paying again the brutal personal, economic, social and family cost” that the initial measures have brought.
António Costa stated, in front of the journalists, that from 9th of November the government will put rapid testing into action.
The Prime Minister also stressed the importance of the Stayaway Covid application, at a time when 2.4 million people have already downloaded it onto their mobile phones.
“We need to free up health professionals who are doing this work” to do it ourselves “with a simple click”, he urged.
“We are strengthening the National Health Service’s response capacity,” assured the leader of the Executive, adding that back-up spaces and retired nurses are being reactivated to contact trace. “We decided today to do this”, said the Prime Minister.
“We are also developing a reinforcement of 202 new ICU beds by the first quarter of next year”, he announced, adding that the “exceptional hiring of nurses for ICUs” will be another of the Government’s measures in this regard (365 vacancies). A call for applications will be launched in January for a further 46 intensivists (ICU professionals), in addition to the ones already underway. “Because it is not enough to have beds, ventilators, negative pressure rooms, it is essential to have human resources. That implies this effort we are making,” he says.
“We believe it is essential to strengthen measures to combat this pandemic,” said the Prime Minister, adding that from the outset the Government’s maxim was to adopt “measures that are as effective as possible in controlling the pandemic, but that generate as little disruption as possible in the lives of individuals, society in general and our economy.
António Costa once again called on the population to collaborate in this fight, despite understanding the “fatigue” in relation to the measures that have been taken. The PM stressed that the fatigue of health professionals and those in the front line has also been difficult to overcome, so more needs to be done to fight Covid-19.
The first measure is self-responsibility.
If the first major measure is self-responsibility, the restrictions still need to be extended, says the Prime Minister, who recalls the measures taken a week ago at a regional level.
The government has adopted the European Centre for Disease Control’s criterion that in situations where there are at least 240 cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days, there will be tighter pandemic control measures. “This is a criterion which applies to several municipalities in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto”, he says, which has already applied to the three municipalities that have been confined.
Situations where a municipality is above that criterion as a result of a confined outbreak of, for example, a nursing home, will be excluded. This is the case of Alvaiázere, the Prime Minister specifies. Conversely, there may be municipalities that are not above 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, but are “islands” in all the municipalities around them. “This is the case of Moita, Montijo, Barreiro and Alcochete, which were below 240, the case of Sobral de Monte Agraço or Viana do Castelo”, says António Costa, citing other examples.
Every 15 days, the Council of Ministers will revisit the list, hoping to remove some and potentially add others. “It is important not to create false expectations. November will be a very tough month”.
The rules that will apply from 4 November in the 121 municipalities that have been flagged are:
This is what is determined:
- the duty to remain at home, with citizens being required to refrain from circulating in public spaces and streets, as well as in private spaces and streets assimilated to public roads, except for all journeys previously authorised, to which are added journeys for activities carried out in day centres, to visit users in residential structures for the elderly and for people with disabilities, integrated continuous care units of the National Network of Integrated Care or other responses dedicated to elderly people, as well as trips to post offices, bank branches and insurance or insurance brokers’ agencies and trips necessary to leave continental national territory;
- it is determined, as a rule, that all retail and service establishments, as well as those in commercial complexes, close by 22h00;
- it is now provided that the mayor of the municipality with territorial jurisdiction may set a closing time lower than the ceiling, subject to the assent of the local health authority and the security forces;
- it is stipulated that celebrations and other events involving a crowd of more than five people are prohibited, unless they belong to the same household, and that fairs and markets are prohibited, with religious ceremonies and shows being permitted in accordance with the rules of the Directorate-General for Health;
- it is stipulated that the teleworking regime must be adopted, regardless of the employment situation, whenever the duties in question allow it, unless the worker is prevented from doing so;
- Closing time for restaurants 22.30 hrs
- it is determined that the exceptional and transitory regime of work reorganisation (contained in DL 79-A/2020) is applicable to companies with workplaces with 50 or more workers, in the territorial areas of the municipalities identified in annex II of the RCM (currently this regime was applicable to the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto).
Besides the exceptional measures described above, the number of people in each group in restaurants is limited to six, for the whole national territory, unless they belong to the same family.
In the remaining continental national territory, the regime of the calamity situation that was defined continues to apply.
The municipalities with a high risk of transmission of Covid-19, to which the new measures to combat the pandemic will apply:
- Alcácer do Sal,
- Alfândega da Fé,
- Arruda dos Vinhos,
- Cabeceiras de Basto,
- Castelo Branco,
- Castelo de Paiva,
- Celorico de Basto,
- Figueira da Foz,
- Fornos de Algodres,
- Macedo de Cavaleiros,
- Marco de Canaveses,
- Mesão Frio,
- Moimenta da Beira,
- Mondim de Basto,
- Oliveira de Azeméis,
- Oliveira de Frades,
- Paredes de Coura,
- Peso da Régua,
- Ponte de Lima,
- Póvoa de Varzim,
- Póvoa do Lanhoso,
- Ribeira da Pena,
- Rio Maior,
- Santa Comba Dão,
- Santa Maria da Feira,
- Santa Marta de Penaguião,
- Santo Tirso,
- São Brás de Alportel,
- São João da Madeira,
- São João da Pesqueira,
- Sever do Vouga,
- Sobral de Monte Agraço,
- Vale da Cambra,
- Viana do Alentejo,
- Viana do Castelo,
- Vila do Conde,
- Vila Flor,
- Vila Franca de Xira,
- Vila Nova de Cerveira,
- Vila Nova de Famalicão,
- Vila Nova de Gaia,
- Vila Pouca de Aguiar,
- Vila Real,
- Vila Velha de Ródão,
- Vila Verde,
- Vila Viçosa,