PM Costa accepts ‘new normal’ will cause pain, ‘but it’s the only way forwards’

Prime minister António Costa has stressed that Portugal’s new normal for coping with Covid-19 will cause pain – not least to the restaurant sector, due to reopen on Monday, and deeply upset by all the conditions in place (click here).

Talking in the context of the signing of ‘a declaration of commitment for economic recovery’ and a ‘cooperation protocol’ between hoteliers and restaurant association AHRESP and the DGS health authority, Mr Costa said: “It’s impossible to go back to business without limitations” that he accepts will “cause discomfort”.

“We have to be frank”, he addressed journalists in Palácio de Ajuda. It will be very difficult to open restaurants under all the conditions set out by DGS health authorities, “but living with the virus implies living with many limitations”, he said.

These limitations are “essential for citizens to have confidence” and this confidence is “fundamental in order to establish the whole economic chain”.

Today’s signing of the two agreements is “a first step towards implementing the common effort to recover the economy”. But, again, this first step is “just that… a first step” because the crisis “has left deep wounds in our economic and social fabric”.

Unemployment is no longer at the enviable 6.4% it was at in February. The economy is not growing as it was. “Job recovery and recovery (in general) are the next priorities”, said the PM, warning that the government is fast approaching ‘the maximum limit of credit lines available”.

Mr Costa has referred to the five billion euros this crisis has so far cost the government on several occasions, particularly in terms of lay-off payments which are being paid but which are finite – in place for a limited period (habitually six months but possible to extend to a year in “very serious situations”).

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