PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES THIRD PHASE OF DE-CONFINEMENT

The Prime spoke at 1750 hrs after the meeting of the Council of Ministers to extend the third phase of de-confinement. The announcement including questions lasted 55 minutes and was very detailed.

The Council of Ministers approved today the resolution that extends the declaration of state of calamity until 23h59 on June 14, continuing the process of de-confinement without calling into question the evolution of the epidemiological situation in Portugal.

The Council of Ministers approved today the resolution extending António Costa’s statement that it will announce regional rather than national de-confinement, as has been done so far.

As usual, the Prime Minister summarised the national epidemiological situation to explain the decisions taken by ministers. “We have confirmed that the growth of the pandemic is stabilised,” he said.

One of the conditions to proceed with de-confinement measures is the capacity of the National Health Service to test patients, which, according to António Costa, continues to increase. “The conditions are in place to move towards the de-confinement measures planned for the end of May”, the Prime Minister declared.

After taking a few minutes to look at the latest figures on the evolution of the pandemic, António Costa set out to present measures relating to the new phase of de-confinement.

About teleworking, António Costa revealed that it is no longer compulsory as of Tuesday, June 2, and now depends on agreement between the employee and the employer. There will be exceptions:

  • If the employee is immunosuppressed or chronically ill;
  • People who are disabled over 60%;
  • Parents accompanying children under 12 at home or with a relevant degree of disability.
  • If the DGS considers that the company does not have sufficient security conditions.

Citizens’ shops will also be opened,” the prime minister said, adding that it will be by appointment and mandatory mask use. There will also be shops and restaurants opening in shopping centres, the rule of a maximum capacity of 50% in restaurants will disappear, and shops with more than 400 m2 will open.

Gyms will be able to reopen from June 1, “in accordance with the rules defined by the Directorate-General of Health” and with the necessary distance and hygiene measures, including disinfection rules and the use of protective equipment by employees.

Cinemas, theatres and concert halls may reopen provided they comply with the rules of the Directorate General of Health.

Religious celebrations will return this weekend. António Costa thanks in particular the Catholic Church and the Islamic community for the celebrations of 13 May and Ramadan.

Bars and nightclubs remain closed for the next 15 days.”

ATLs not integrated in schools should only open from 15 June. Family support and leisure activities are not open until the end of the school year.

António Costa explains that the decision to postpone opening is due to the need to give establishments time to prepare themselves with the necessary safety and hygiene measures.

António Costa explains that the government support being given to parents who are at home with children under 12 years of age is tied to the operation of daycares and school establishments. In other words:

  • In the case of daycares, the support ends next Monday (date on which the pre-school reopens generally);
  • In the case of primary school pupils, the support ends at the end of the school year, on 26 June.

 

Lisbon metropolitan area will have “tighter” measures

António Costa confirms that this entire phase of de-confinement in Lisbon will be the same as in the rest of the country except for three rules: only 10 people will be allowed to gather (not 20, as in the rest of the country); shopping centres and citizen shops will remain closed; and the opening of fairs and shops of more than 400 m2 will be reviewed,” said the Prime Minister.

To respond to the “exceptional” situation in the Lisbon metropolitan area, epidemiological monitoring will be reinforced:

  • In civil and construction works
  • In activities carried out by temporary workers, such as the outbreak detected in Azambuja

 

As acknowledged at Thursday’s meeting, António Costa announced that the government will temporarily relocate some of the people infected with covid-19 in order to control the outbreak’s contagion. This emergency re-housing plan will seek to separate infected and non-infected people.

Private passenger transport vehicles in the Lisbon metropolitan area will now have a maximum capacity of 2/3 of passengers and wearing a mask will be mandatory.

Shopping malls and citizen shops in the Lisbon region will remain closed until June 4. The reopening of shopping centres in the Lisbon metropolitan area will be reassessed at the Council of Ministers next Thursday (which does not mean they will open next week). “We’re going to make a very big effort so that it can have results, by strengthening the tests”, explained António Costa, after acknowledging the economic impact the measure will have on tenants.

“All the other activities will be able to maintain the activity and resume in the foreseen calendar”, said the Prime Minister.

 

 

On clusters of cases, de-confinement measures and travel/tourism

“We shouldn’t place the problem in this or that neighbourhood, in this or that area. That is not the nature of the problem. The nature of the problem is identified and is related to the type of work, which is aggravated by conditions of habitability in which a large number of people share residence”, the Prime Minister stresses, justifying the emergency plan of re-housing. “It has little to do with the places of origin, but with the conditions of habitability”, António Costa stresses.

The Prime Minister also rejects the idea that the outbreaks in the Lisbon region are related to the de-confinement measures, especially as the activities involved were never halted during the period of state of emergency.

The strategy for the coming week will involve vigilance work with the temporary employment companies that hire these workers who, because they are temporary, tend to move more between their activities.

As for the fact that tourists can enter Portugal without quarantine, the Prime Minister stresses that “in mainland Portugal, no quarantine rule has been in force, nor is it intended to be in force”. “We have agreed with Spain on the management of the land border and we are calm and in no hurry to reopen that border. We respect the wishes of our neighbours. At the appropriate time it will be right to open this border,” he adds.

 


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