Following another ‘difficult day’ in terms of Portugal’s image with regard to the virus, the Council of Ministers has decided to put 19 ‘hot spots’ in the capital back into lockdown.
The hot-spots are the same 19 parishes that heard earlier this week that they were to continue in a State of Calamity when the rest of the country moves to the ‘milder’ mode of alert on July 1.
Say reports, the inhabitants of various parts of Sintra, Loures, Odivelas, Amadora and Lisbon – totalling many hundreds of thousands of people – will now only be able to leave home for the essentials: to work, buy food and/ or medication.
Police will be drafted in to ‘guarantee’ everyone sticks to the rules.
How this will new plan – due only to come in on July 1 – will work, when the rest of the country is enjoying relative freedom and going to the beaches – is the big question.
In the recent past, authorities have balked at returning areas to any kind of lockdown, saying it would be discriminatory.
But the increasing number of infections in the Greater Lisbon area, and the way in which they are being interpreted by national and international media, seem to have swayed decision-makers into this massive u-turn.
The 19 parishes will ‘return to lockdown’, while the Greater Lisbon area as a whole will enter a State of Contingency (limiting groups coming together to no more than 10 people). The rest of the country will be in a State of Alert, which PM Costa admits will continue until the end of the pandemic.
Certainly Mr Costa, giving a press conference on the subject as we write this text, is a great deal less ‘smiley’ than usual.
He is continuing to insist authorities have been absolutely transparent on Portugal’s outbreak – and as we heard earlier today, the number of cases involving people becoming seriously ill is diminishing all the time.
As to the ‘latest measures’, fines again have been threatened: up to €5000 for anyone flouting this second period of confinement.
Supermarkets will remain open until 10pm in the various areas – and so far no-one is saying how long the new lockdown will run. A ‘re-evaluation’ of the measures will take place mid-July.
More to come as reactions start coming through.