Prime Minister Address to the Nation following Council of Minister’s meeting 23rd September 2021
At the end of the Council of Ministers meeting, this Thursday, 23 September, Prime Minister António Costa announced that Portugal is now “in a position to move to the third phase”.
“Today we are very close to where we were in March,” the Prime Minister said, announcing that the incidence is now 140.1 infections per 100,000 inhabitants and the R(t) is 0.81, when in March it was 0.78.
“Portugal is in first place in the percentage of population with complete vaccination,” António Costa announced. At the moment, the vaccination rate is 83.4%.
According to the task force estimates, Portugal is expected to reach 85% of vaccinated Portuguese population over the next week.
From 1 October, the country will evolve from a state of contingency to a state of alert.
From that date, it is foreseen the reopening of bars and nightclubs requiring a digital certificate for access.
Limits on operating hours will end and restaurants will no longer be subject to a maximum limit of people per group.
As for the digital certificate, it is no longer required to enter restaurants, tourist establishments and local accommodation and also in gyms with group classes, casinos, spas and hot springs.
The limitation of capacity in commercial establishments, weddings and christenings and other family events, and the existing restrictions for cultural shows or popular festivals will also disappear.
Besides access to bars and nightclubs, the digital certificate continues to be compulsory for travel by air or sea and for visits to nursing homes or hospitals. The certificate remains compulsory for large cultural, sporting and corporate events.
In this new phase, the mask continues to be mandatory in public transport, nursing homes, hospitals, in the halls of shows or events whenever there is not a two-metre distance between people and also in large commercial surfaces.
Asked why the Government decided to announce the third phase of deconfinement before the goal of 85 per cent vaccination was reached, António Costa began by recalling that on 29 July the “deconfinement programme” was presented, considering the progress of the vaccination process.
“Nothing that we are announcing today is particularly new or unexpected. We had already announced it on 29 July,” he said, adding that restrictions are only “appropriate” according to the situation.
If vaccination is increasing, incidence and the risk of transmission are decreasing, the Prime Minister considers that “nothing justifies” imposing more restrictions “beyond what is necessary”.
“The pandemic is not over and even though we can consider it controlled from the moment we have 85 per cent of the population vaccinated, the risk remains”, António Costa warns.
The Prime Minister recalls that vaccines do not ensure 100% immunity and that there is “a small, very small, ultra-minority of people who refuse to be vaccinated”. “We know that the entire population under 12 years of age is not vaccinated and therefore the risk exists,” stresses the Prime Minister.
Regarding the use of masks and the existence of classes in isolation at the beginning of the school year, the Prime Minister began by recalling that it is no longer mandatory to wear masks in outdoor spaces, such as in the playground.
In addition, the Directorate-General of Health will update the rules on isolation to allow a “response to the problems” that still exist, taking into account “the effective risk of disease transmission in the school population”.