Prime Minister António Costa has just announced the new confinement measures, which follow an extraordinary Council of Ministers meeting this Monday.
The date of entry into force of the new rules is not yet clear. The government is finalising the decree, which it then sends to the President.
Costa said that three days of confinement was a short period, but data on mobility showed a 30% reduction in movements. “It is not acceptable to maintain this level of movement at the weekend,” he said, thanking the population that followed the rules.
“The moment we are living is the most serious moment of this pandemic. Even today another 167 people have died.”, he said.
“Every day we beat the record number of infected, hospitalized and, above all, dead. And there is no life that can be recovered, that is not an evil that we should cause anyone. And that depends on each one of us,” said Costa, who called for a “civic awakening” to fight the pandemic.
This time, the following measures are added:
- A ban on weekend travel between municipalities is reinstated;
- All establishments of all types must close at 20h00 during the week and 13h00 on weekends. The exception is food retailing which on weekends can operate until 17h00;
- The sale at the door on any non-food establishment, such as clothing shops, will be prohibited;
- The sale at the door of any kind of beverage, even coffee, is prohibited;
- The presence and consumption of food outside or in the vicinity of establishments is prohibited;
- All restaurants in shopping centres are closed, even if they are take-away;
- Sales and discounts promoting the movement of people are forbidden;
- It is forbidden for people to stay in public spaces such as gardens. They can be frequented, but they cannot be places to spend time at;
- Municipalities are asked to limit access to areas that invite concentration of people, such as river margins (“marginais”, “ribeiras”), including spaces to play tennis or “pádel”;
- Senior universities, day centres and community centres are closed;
- Travel for on-site work will require a written declaration from the employer;
- In the next 48 hours companies with more than 250 employees must send the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT) the nominal list of all employees whose in-person work they consider indispensable.
António Costa also announced that the Government had decided to strengthen the supervision of the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT) and the security forces. The Government asks for “greater visibility” of the presence on public roads of the Public Security Police (PSP), particularly near schools, in order to act as a deterrent.
On vaccination, Costa said that there are conditions for “better management of the stock” of vaccines, accelerating vaccination in nursing homes. The first dose in all nursing homes should be completed next week, he said.
There is no reason today to be less afraid of the virus than the fear we had in March last year,” said Costa, who showed confidence in health professionals and security forces, which will strengthen surveillance. The government and the President of the Republic will not hesitate to take the necessary measures in the fight against the pandemic, he said, adding, however, that “each one of us” has a decisive role in the fight against the pandemic.
“This is not the time for birthday parties, for dinners of friends or family. This is not the time to take advantage of the loopholes in the law, to find the exception,” he said.
“Nobody can be imprudent to think that the virus only affects others,” he said.
Costa, however, expressed some hope when he recalled that already in previous moments it was possible to lower the numbers with the measures applied.
In his answers to journalists, Costa did not want to comment on criticisms from the other political parties because this was not the time. Asked about schools, the leader of the executive insisted that he will not hesitate to reinforce the measures but that he will always try to affect people’s lives as little as possible.
“We cannot always be waiting for the other. We can’t always wait for the other person, for the police to fine us, for the government to forbid us”. “We have to count on ourselves,” he said.
Costa said that after-school recreation centres (ATLs), like support centres for families (CAFs), remain in operation.
Concerning borders, he stated that coordination is being done at European level.
The Prime Minister said that the early vote “went well,” and said that there were “municipalities where there was bad organisation,” although there were others where the organisation went well.
Costa also said that the law on the state of emergency prohibited restrictions on political activity. Neither the President’s decree nor the Government’s law could introduce any limitation on political activity. It will be up to each candidate and candidate to organise their campaign in the way best suited to the circumstances of the pandemic. And the Portuguese will judge”.
António Costa leaves the door open for the civil health requisition. “It will be used if and when necessary,” said the government leader, pointing out that the law already allows this, even outside the state of emergency. However, he noted that the government has always preferred agreement rather than imposition and stressed that the private sector and the social sector have collaborated. “We have not had any situation where there was no alternative to the requisition”.
He also said that on election day it will be allowed to circulate between municipalities to vote, admitting, however, that there will be few cases of people.