“The situation is serious and more critical than the one we experienced in the first phase of the pandemic,” said António Costa.
The Prime Minister will explain at a press conference the measures that the government will take to try to stop the second wave of COVID-19.
“We have a higher number of new cases than in the first wave; we have a higher number of people in ICU than in the first wave, and a higher number of new deaths per day than in the first wave,” he said.
“It is essential to be aware of the measures taken since 14 September; we have reached a state of emergency with a more serious pandemic situation”, he summarised.
The Prime Minister praised the change in schedules of cultural shows and football matches in order to respect the movement restrictions imposed since the start of the week.
António Costa responded to criticisms of the government’s responses. “We have tried to manage a balance between people’s health and life”, he justified.
The balance is made on the second day with more deaths since the beginning of the pandemic (only behind the 82 deaths reported on Wednesday). The bulletin of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) released this Thursday reported 78 more deaths from COVID-19.
The Prime Minister said today that the government’s measures to limit movement under the state of emergency had led to “misunderstandings”, opening the door to an excess of focus on exceptions and a devaluation of the rule.
“It is clear that the government’s effort to achieve a balance – certainly due to the shortcomings of our communication – has generated misunderstandings and opened the door, on the one hand, to an excessive focus on exceptions and a devaluation of the rule,” said António Costa.
The Prime Minister regretted that over the past week there has been “a kind of competition to see where the exception is for not complying with the rule of staying at home”. “There is creativity in terms of timetables, aggressive promotion of the sale of non-essential goods and even calls by business associations for non-compliance with measures decreed in the state of emergency,” he criticised.
In this context, according to António Costa, the government was “forced to eliminate any kind of misunderstanding” regarding restrictions on freedom of movement in the municipalities most affected by COVID-19 over the next two weekends.
Motivated by the current state of the pandemic described, the following steps are being taken:
The government has decreed the closure, from 13h00 on Saturday to 8h00 on Sunday, and from 13h00 on Sunday to 8h00. on Monday, of all commercial or catering establishments, with the exception of establishments which previously had an opening time before 8h00 (such as bakeries, medical practices, food retailers, etc.).
As for restaurants, from 13h00 on Saturday and Sunday they can only operate for home delivery.
Of the 121 municipalities that are still covered by the state of emergency measures, seven will cease to be so from 00h00 on Friday: Moimenta da Beira, Tabuaço, São João da Pesqueira, Mesão Frio, Pinhel, Tondela and Batalha.
However, 77 municipalities in the country are now covered by the new state of emergency measures from 00h00 on Monday. This brings the number of municipalities in this situation throughout the country to 191.
The government has extended the new measures, both from the calamity situation and the state of emergency, until 23h59 on 23 November, so that “the set of measures in force throughout the country” can be aligned with the measures in force in these 191 municipalities, therefore having “all of them on the same timetable”.
The Council of Ministers approved an exceptional support measure for catering in the municipalities where freedom of movement will be restricted from 13h00 on Saturday. This support will consist of a compensation of 20% of the revenue loss over the next two weekends. The calculation will be based on the average of the 44 weekends in 2020 between January and October.
The changes will only take place from next Monday to ensure that “everyone has enough time to adapt to the new measures”, explains the Prime Minister. However, the situation is serious, he warned. “This does not mean that we devalue the gravity of the situation in each of these municipalities. We urge everyone to be very careful because they already have a high incidence rate,” he said.
The rules that will apply from 16 November in the 191 municipalities that have been flagged are:
- Reinstatement of the civic duty to stay home;
- Compulsory regime of work hours reorganisation;
- Closure of all commercial establishments from 22h00;
- Limiting the opening hours and the number of people in restaurant tables to six;
- Events and celebrations limited to 5 people;
- Teleworking is mandatory unless there is reasoned opposition from the worker;
- Prohibition of holding fairs and markets; Permanent ones can be held.
These are the 77 municipalities which will now be covered by the state of emergency measures:
Manteigas, Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Coruche, Seia, Proença-a-Nova, Monforte, Vieira do Minho, Mealhada, Celorico da Beira, Castro Daire, Arronches, Nelas, Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Mora, Torre de Moncorvo, Mêda, Mangualde, Salvaterra de Magos, Pampilhosa da Serra, Ourém, Vila do Bispo, Penela, Miranda do Douro, Albergaria-a-Velha, Águeda, Oliveira do Bairro, Arganil, Grândola, Resende, Mira, Ílhavo, Abrantes, Boticas, Coimbra, Almeida, Cantanhede, Almeirim, Ferreira do Alentejo, São Pedro do Sul, Estarreja, Faro, Cuba, Mirandela, Campo Maior, Miranda do Corvo, Alcanena, Ponte de Sor, Condeixa-a-Nova, Arcos de Valdevez, Montalegre, Montemor-o-Velho, Crato, Viseu, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Vagos, Penalva do Castelo, Sousel, Évora, Penamacor, Murtosa, Lamego, Vila Real de Santo António, Albufeira, Carrazeda de Ansiães, Elvas, Vila Nova de Paiva, Alvaiázere, Tábua, Portalegre, Portimão, Ansião, Tavira, Lagos, Aljustrel, Anadia e Sátão.