Council of Ministers extends no-go restaurants rules to 90 municipalities – 14 in Algarve

Just as predicted, today’s Council of Ministers far from reining in on unpopular measures introduced last week has extended them. There are now 90 municipalities in which restaurant interiors will be off-limits to people without a Covid Digital Certificate or proof of negative test for Covid-19 – 14 of them are in the Algarve.

In other words, the country’s principal holiday region is even more hampered by restrictions.

In the government’s mindset, these are necessary because the “situation continues to deteriorate”.

Never mind the minute explanations of television commentators who show how much better the situation nationally is than it was during the winter, the government is looking at it solely on the basis of the number of new cases of the virus – irrespective of the fact that the vast majority of these leave their victims unaffected.

As Minister for the Presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva confirmed “pressure on the SNS (national health service) is below the red lines set by the government”.

The council’s decision will remain in place until July 27, she said – the moment ministers are scheduled to meet with specialists at Infarmed to hear their opinions.

There is little expectation that this meeting will bring any respite in the current measures. Ms Vieira da Silva actually referred to “more profound measures” being likely to be enforced.

There is no denying that the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants has increased. It is currently running at 346.5 cases per 100,000, but the Rt (transmission) number has dropped significantly since last week’s 1.20. It is now 1.15.

For the ‘good news’, Ms Vieira da Silva stressed that well over three million Portuguese are now fully vaccinated, and have been for more than two weeks.

The rest is essentially the opposite of good news. Despite suggestions from experts on how to update the ‘obsolete, completely useless’ risk matrix that the government is using to define its measures (click here), this will be left unimplemented for the time being – as will the idea to reopen bars and discotheques as a way of ‘stimulating’ young people to take up Covid vaccines.

Thus, for the moment restaurants in areas of “elevated” and “very elevated” risk remain under heavy restrictions, as the areas themselves are also saddled with different measures.

This is the list of municipalities in areas of very high risk:

Albergaria-a-Velha, Albufeira, Alcochete, Almada, Amadora, Arruda dos Vinhos, Aveiro, Avis, Barreiro, Benavente, Cascais, Elvas, Faro, Ílhavo, Lagoa, Lagos, Lisboa, Loulé, Loures, Lourinhã, Mafra, Matosinhos, Mira, Moita, Montijo, Nazaré, Odivelas, Oeiras, Olhão, Oliveira do Bairro, Palmela, Peniche, Portimão, Porto, Santo Tirso, São Brás de Alportel, Seixal, Sesimbra, Setúbal, Silves, Sines, Sintra, Sobral de Monte Agraço, Vagos, Vila Franca de Xira, Vila Nova de Gaia and Viseu.

This is the list of municipalities considered ‘high risk’:

Alcobaça, Alenquer, Arouca, Arraiolos, Azambuja, Barcelos, Batalha, Bombarral, Braga, Cantanhede, Cartaxo, Castro Marim, Chaves, Coimbra, Constância, Espinho, Figueira da Foz, Gondomar, Guimarães, Leiria, Lousada, Maia, Monchique, Montemor-o-Novo, Óbidos, Paredes, Paredes de Coura, Pedrógão Grande, Porto de Mós, Póvoa de Varzim, Rio Maior, Salvaterra de Magos, Santarém, Santiago do Cacém, Tavira, Torres Vedras, Trancoso, Trofa, Valongo, Viana do Alentejo, Vila do Bispo, Vila Nova de Famalicão e Vila Real de Sto. António.

The rules in these areas differ slightly.

Municipalities of very high risk are:

  • Bound by the 11pm – 5am curfew
  • Must enforce remote working when business functions permit
  • Must close restaurants and cafés by 10.30pm (inside tables with a maximum of four people, terraces with six
  • Must bring any cultural shows to a close by 10.30pm
  • Must limit sports to those considered low and medium risk
  • Must close shops by 9pm during the week. At weekends non-food shops must close by 3.30pm; food shops by 7pm

Municipalities of high risk the rules are almost the same, with the exception that restaurants can have a maximum of six people per table inside, 10 outside, and shops and businesses can run until 9pm every day of the week. 

The much-discussed ‘autotests’ (acceptable for diners as long as they are taken in the presence of a restaurant employee) will start being on sale in supermarkets, but Ms Vieira da Silva does still not know when…