Non-resident foreigners spared Portugal’s five day Bank Holiday confinement

The nationwide ‘borough lockdowns’ starting on Friday and running until 6am next Tuesday come with a relatively wide list of exceptions, and do not apply to non-resident foreigners.

People who work outside their own boroughs will be allowed to continue working. There are two options, explain reports. “If you are travelling within a metropolitan area or between neighbouring boroughs all that will be needed is the worker’s ‘word of honour’. If you are travelling further than this, a ‘declaration’ from your company to prove you are working will be required”.

Pupils travelling to secondary schools outside their boroughs will also be exempt from restrictions, as will those whose schools and/ or creches are outside their borough of residence.

Anyone who has a ticket to a show or event can also travel beyond their borough boundaries, “but only to the neighbouring borough or within a metropolitan area”.

People will also be able to travel if taking part in sporting events, scheduled for exams (medical or otherwise), taking their vehicle for its ‘inspection’ (MOT) or if they have plans to travel abroad.

The confinement only applies to nationals and residents, adds Jornal de Notícias. It does not apply to non-resident foreigners in Portugal who are travelling to destinations they can prove like hotels or even other people’s houses.

For the time being, this five-day ‘confinement’ (which some constitutionalists argue is ‘unconstitutional’ in the current State of Calamity) has been presented as a ‘one-off’ to help reduce the risk of further community transmission. But it is increasingly being seen as a way of shoehorning the nation into a new State of Emergency.

Health minister Marta Temido has warned of serious escalation in the number of hospital admissions by next week (see breaking news banner) – and for further measures to be able to come into force a State of Emergency will be the only ‘legal’ mechanism the government can adopt.

The current State of Calamity declared by the Council of Minister almost two weeks ago comes up for renewal on Thursday. Bets are very much on that the next decision will be to move the country up a notch to a new State of Emergency.

By coincidence, newspapers are reporting today that the government is preparing a measure to extend the limit by which Christmas presents can be ‘returned’ from 30 to 45 days after Christmas. The reason is being given as a way of preventing ‘agglomerations’ in shops and malls, but it would also be necessary in a scenario where people were going to be physically incapable of entering shops and malls for a period of time.

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