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Portugal drops five main Covid restrictions, promising “they’ll all go in five weeks’ time”

Portugal’s Council of Ministers has approved the first steps towards regaining our freedoms.

“In the next few days”, the country will move from its current ‘State of Calamity’ to one of ‘Alert’, which will remain in force until midnight on March 7. Five key restrictions will then fall.

They are the need for:

  • ‘contacts of risk’ to go into prophylactic isolation
  • remote working from home
  • limits on numbers in shops, commercial premises and others ‘open to the public’
  • presentation of Covid Digital Certificates (unless it is for the purposes of entering the country)
  • presentation of a negative test for SARS-CoV-2 in order to access large events, sports arenas, bars and discotheques.

Markedly missing from the list is the doing away with mask-wearing in indoor spaces. This is because, for now, the decision has been to maintain it “in indoor situations in which it is currently requested”. 

This means there is no need to wear masks in the street anymore (a stipulation that became very confused as it only ever applied to situations where people could not keep an adequate physical distance).

None of these changes, however, can come into effect before they are promulgated by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa – hence the open-ended proviso of “in a few days’ time”.

But it is indeed “the very important moment” described by minister of the presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva, as the Council of Ministers also acknowledged that the “total elimination of all restrictive measures in place” would come within the next five weeks.

“It’s not a calendar we can define, otherwise we would already have approved it, but it is the forecast the experts gave us, referring to reaching the target number of 20 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants over 14 days,” said Ms Vieira da Silva.

Thus, to recap, still required for the time being are:

  • presentation of negative tests/Covid Digital Certificates/certificates of recovery for access to old people’s homes; hospitals and care facilities
  • use of masks in indoor settings (as they are currently required).

The idea is for the government to review the epidemiological situation every fortnight, on the basis that forecasters’ projections may come sooner than they think.

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