June 1 signals ‘day of great deconfinement’

Today (June 1) sees the 3rd and largest phase of Portugal’s progressive deconfinement. These are the changes:

● Shopping malls reopen (except for Lisbon area) Shops of more than 400 sq metres are now cleared for business, as long as the staff adopt all the necessary preventive measures, and use of masks remains obligatory.

The situation in Lisbon remains subject to evaluation and will be reassessed on Thursday due to the continued spread of the virus within the Lisbon area.

● Restaurants can return to 100% capacity as long as they install protective acrylic screens between tables. (Few restaurants are taking up this option however as business has still not returned to anything like ‘normal’.)

● Creches and pre-school groups are now ready for all former pupils. The government regime that paid parents to stay home and care for their youngest children has now ended.

● Citizens shops (Lojas de Cidadão) are back to attend customers, but by appointment only. Again, the Lisbon area is an exception and will have to wait at least another week.

● Beaches are slowly preparing for the June 6 official start of the bathing season in which flags (green, yellow and red) will provide guidance as to capacity. A number of incidents and sadly some drownings have already occurred this year as lifeguards are still not officially on duty until June 6.

● Cinemas and theatres reopen, with a seating space between viewers who don’t come from the same family group, and masks obligatory.

● Gyms can start operating from today, under strict new rules (click here) and on the basis that shower rooms etc remain closed.

● Teleworking is no longer obligatory from today, and passes to a ‘part-time’ regime. Government advice is for ‘phased work schedules’ for those going into offices, so that there are never too many workers in the work-space at any one time.

The regime however remains in place for workers who are immuno-supressed, chronically ill or who care for children under the age of 12 (who are still not back at school).

DGS health authorities also say teleworking should continue if the companies concerned are unable to guarantee “necessary conditions of hygiene and safety”.

For now, there is no return-to-business date for bars or discotheques, the owners/ managers of which are at their wits’ ends.

The government has this far balked at the creation of a ‘contact tracing’ system, but it is said to be considering the use of an app. More on this when the thinking develops.