Prime Minister addresses the nation on the conditions for reopening activities

António Costa said this evening, at the end of the Council of Ministers meeting that the results of the first measures of de- confinement, taken 15 days ago, were positive in combating the spread of covid-19, there being no reason to postpone a further step in the reopening of activities.

According to the Prime Minister, given the data on the evolution of the pandemic, the government concluded that “the first containment measures taken 15 days ago, which came into effect at the beginning of this month, did not alter the control trend” of the new coronavirus.

“In view of these developments, there is no reason for us to delay, backtrack or postpone any of the measures that we had planned to enter into force next Monday. On the contrary, just as 15 days ago, we still have a robust system of testing capacity. We are now, after Lithuania, Cyprus and Denmark, the fourth country in Europe with the highest number of tests carried out by a million inhabitants,” said the head of government.

Among the measures approved by the Council of Ministers is the extension of the state of calamity until 31 May, “continuing the process of de-confinement that began on 30 April, without calling into question the evolution of the epidemiological situation in Portugal”, reads the communiqué.

The Prime Minister announced new rules for the de-confinement period.

 

Beaches

About beaches, António Costa stressed that users must ensure a physical distance of 1.5 meters between different groups and a distance of three meters between sun hats, awnings or thatched umbrellas, from June 6.

According to the deconfinement plan divulged after the Council of Ministers, during the bathing season, in the use of the beach sands there are “forbidden sports activities with two or more people, except nautical activities, surf lessons and similar sports”.

In the awnings, thatched umbrellas and beach huts, “as a rule, each person or group can only rent in the morning (until 13h30) or afternoon (from 14h00)”, with a maximum of five users.

The Infopraia application is already available, which citizens can access before going to the beach and see if the destination beach is red (full and not advisable), yellow (almost full) or green (accessible). “You can download it now,” challenged the Prime Minister.

“We can’t have security officers on every beach saying that the beach is crowded” and if the respect for others is not confirmed, the Government admits closing beaches.

Commercial Spaces

“A fortnight ago we opened the small shops and announced that we could take a new step. That’s what’s going to happen”, the Prime Minister declares, thus confirming the second phase of deconfinement, with the opening of more commercial spaces, including restaurants, cafés and pastry shops. Left out of the reopening are bars and discos.

However, the required sanitary rules, namely the limitation of capacity, are maintained. “I understand that it is strongly restrictive of catering and its activity. We want the conditions to be created so that from June onwards we can take a step forward and take away this limitation on capacity, maintaining a distance and friendly protection,” he says.

 

Cafes, pastry shops and restaurants

Restaurants can also reopen on Monday. But with some restrictions.

  • The capacity of the spaces should be reduced by 50 percent.
  • Masks are mandatory for all staff in cafes and restaurants.
  • The layout of tables and chairs must ensure a distance of at least two metres between people. At the same table, people can sit facing each other or side by side.
  • The opening hours are reduced. Cafes and restaurants can only operate until 23h00.
  • Owners must disinfect all areas of frequent contact at least six times a day. This is the case for door handles, doors, taps and tables.
  • Critical equipment such as automatic payment terminals and individual menus must be disinfected after each use.
  • At the entrance and exit of the establishment, customers must disinfect their hands. They must also use a mask, except during the meal period.

Nursing Homes

The Chief Executive also announced that from Monday visits to nursing homes by relatives will resume, although still with restrictions on the number of people and maintaining the rules of social distance.

“From Monday it will be possible to resume visits to homes by relatives,” announced António Costa, adding that the restriction on these visits “was one of the most difficult decisions” taken by the executive.

Schools

11th and 12th grade students return to face-to-face classes on Monday. The return applies only to subjects subject to exams. The use of masks in schools is compulsory and social distance must be respected.

Students who do not attend classes in person, at the option of their parents, have justified absences. In this case, the school is only obliged to guarantee distance learning to groups at risk.

The reopening requires new security measures. In classrooms, there must be an exclusive desk for each student, who cannot face another colleague. The break times must be as short as possible and within the classrooms.

Classes take place from 10h00 to 17h00 and students will be divided into two shifts: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Day care centers

António Costa recognises that “it’s a particularly sensitive issue, for families who need day cares to open so they can return to work, for parents who are concerned about their children’s safety and for those who work in the day cares”.

The Prime Minister says that 80% of day care staff have been tested, but he points out that at least until the end of the month the Government keeps financially supporting parents who decide to continue at home with their children.

  • A distance of between one and a half and two metres between the children inside the rooms, during meals and naps is planned.
  • Professionals should wear a mask, but not the children.
  • It is also recommended that close contact with the children be reduced to the indispensable.
  • In the rooms where the children are sitting on the floor, the shoes should be left at the door.
  • Professionals should also ensure, whenever possible, that children do not share objects.

Teleworking

For António Costa, the end of the compulsory teleworking should not be the end of this distance working option. “On the contrary,” he says. The Prime Minister says that this de- confinement should always be coordinated, so that workers are not all in their workplaces at the same time and repeats that this is a training of what will have to be a new lifestyle until vaccines


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