Back to Calamity: Portugal braces for new measures

… but vaccination has helped massively. This is the message this afternoon from PM António Costa whose government has balked at introducing any kind of draconian measures.

Focus is on reinforcing vaccinations and, to this end, the country will continue purchasing vaccines required.

There is no decision yet on the vaccination of children, although the government is prepared to go ahead with it. For now, it will wait to hear the opinion of the vaccine technical commission, due next week.

Mr Costa said the government recognises the country is entering a period of greater risk.

The risk matrix sees the country deep into the ‘red zone’ (high risk), two months after being well in the green zone (low risk).

“We are better off than the majority of European countries, but we aren’t as good as we had hoped,” he said. Thus ‘new measures’ are essentially ‘general’:
– People should self-test before family gatherings, particularly over the festive period;
– People should work from home as much as possible to avoid excess contacts;
– State of Calamity returns from December 1

Basically, these interventions will involve three main areas:
– wearing of masks in all closed spaces;
– use of Covid digital certificates for entry into restaurants, touristic establishments, cultural events, gyms;
– obligatory testing in certain areas, explained the PM – detailing visits to old people’s homes, to patients in health units or sports/ cultural events/ bars and discotheques.

Tests will also be required for people flying into the country – with airlines facing “serious sanctions” if they don’t ensure passengers are carrying valid negative tests.

A week of “contact containment” is also planned between January 2 and 9 in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the “tragic January of 2021”. During this week, teleworking will be mandatory, and bars and discos will be forced to close. School will resume after the festive period days later than planned, on January 10.

“Reaching the 85% mark of vaccinations in Portugal (we are now already at 87%) did not end the pandemic. It allowed us to reduce cases, hospitalisations and deaths and has left us in a better position than the rest of Europe,” said Costa.

“We all want to have a safe Christmas and, most of all, that we can resume our life safely after the festive season,” the Prime Minister said.

• Regular testing
• Teleworking

State of Calamity comes into effect on December 1.

• Mask-wearing is mandatory in closed spaces and all areas that have not been declared an exception by DGS (health board).
• Digital Certificate (vaccine and/or negative test) becomes mandatory to enter restaurants, tourist establishments and local lodgings, events with assigned seating and gyms
• Negative tests are mandatory (even for vaccinated people) to visit residents at old people’s homes and patients at health establishments or to enter large events with no assigned seating or at improvised venues and sports venues, as well as bars and discos.
• Negative tests are mandatory for all flights arriving in Portugal
• Much larger sanctions are implemented for airlines
• A week of “contact containment” called between January 2 and 9, making teleworking mandatory, delaying the start of the second term of school from January 3 to 10 and closing bars and discos.