At the end of the Council of Ministers meeting, António Costa announced that an extension of the existing rules for the next seven days had been approved.

At the end of the Council of Ministers meeting, António Costa announced that an extension of the existing rules for the next seven days had been approved. “As a precautionary measure at the weekend, the prohibition on movement between municipalities apply to the entire continental national territory between 11 pm on January 8 and 5 am on January 11, 2021, except for health, urgent or other reasons specifically provided for.

Extend to the municipalities at high risk (in addition to Very and Extreme municipalities) the ban on driving on public roads from 1 pm on the weekend of 9 and 10 January;

The Prime Minister specifies that only 25 municipalities have fewer than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, so only those are not on the tightest restrictions list – but the scenario is set to change next week.

These are the municipalities that are on the list of those with less than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants: Alcoutim, Aljezur, Almeida, Arronches, Barrancos, Carrazeda de Ansiães, Castanheira de Pêra, Castelo de Vide, Coruche, Ferreira do Alentejo, Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Lagoa, Manteigas, Monchique, Odemira, Pampilhosa da Serra, Proença-a-Nova, Resende, Santiago do Cacém, Sardoal, Sernancelhe, Sines, Torre de Moncorvo, Vila de Rei and Vila do Bispo.

António Costa said that an emergency meeting had already been called for this Friday to assess “if necessary, the adoption of measures on the 12th that would correspond to a worsening of the situation.

A meeting with experts is scheduled for the 12th, which will assess the impact of the relaxation of Christmas measures on the daily numbers of new infections.

Asked by journalists what the most restrictive measures planned for next week would be if the pandemic developed negatively, António Costa stressed that he would also listen to the social partners and political parties.

About schools, he says, “there is a large consensus among technicians and experts that it is not justified to affect the functioning of the school year” as last year.

He acknowledges, however, that more restrictive measures for weekends could also be applied to weekdays. In other words, it does not exclude the possibility of adopting “more general containment measures” such as those adopted in March.

The prime minister stressed that hope “is the last thing to die” and that the possibility should be left open that yesterday’s and today’s figures may only be an adjustment of the last few weeks.

“I don’t want to anticipate measures. Hope is the last to die, we must have hope”, he stresses.

But if the data up to the 12th confirm a negative development, “it is clear that what needs to be done must be done”, he reiterates.

“We cannot put at risk the enormous effort that has been made so far”, he adds.

António Costa says that, at a time when vaccination is already underway, at a time “when we already know that this tunnel has an end, we cannot be wasting what we have conquered”.

Asked whether the presidential elections will continue in the face of the new measures, António Costa explains: “The law on the state of emergency does not allow any kind of restriction to political activity”.

“There are conditions for the electoral act to take place in complete safety, even if the state of emergency measures are in place”, the Prime Minister stressed.

“When we adopted the measures for this month, we immediately assumed that by lowering the level of restriction during Christmas, it was natural that afterwards there would be some increase in transmission, even if most families adopted, as I believe they did, the preventive measures,” explained António Costa.

“Yesterday’s and today’s numbers are very different from what we had at the beginning of the week, when we had about 4,500 cases. There was a doubling of the numbers in two days,” the Prime Minister noted.

“We have to see what is the effect of increased circulation, the effect of most people during the holiday season having tested less,” says Costa, stressing that 91 percent of the cases are tests carried out the day before yesterday and therefore “are very recent”.

António Costa considers, therefore, that there are “several factors” that can explain the increase in cases and prefers to wait for the 12th “to have reliable data”.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the different levels of restrictions and the uncertainty about what the next decisions will be contribute to some confusion about the unpredictability of the measures, but added that it is “necessary” since the unpredictability results from the need to adopt measures that are proportional to each state of development of the pandemic, in order “to disrupt people’s lives and the economy as little as possible and to be as effective in containment as possible”.