Portuguese people divided over use of masks on streets

Discussions over wearing a mask on the streets have split opinions and shown how fractured Portugal is over the country’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the Eurosondagem poll, carried out for local broadcaster Porto Canal and the weekly newspaper Sol, 48% of respondents say they agree with the use of a mask, 45% disagree and 7% have doubts or do not know or don’t want to answer.

Portugal imposed the use of masks in busy public spaces on October 28 and those not wearing one on the streets where social distancing is not possible face fines of up to 500 euros.

Last month the World Health Organization changed its guidelines and advised people to wear masks in public where social distancing is not possible. 

The Eurosondage study was carried out between Monday and Thursday, with 1,011 telephone interviews.

Portugal is scrambling to contain a spike in coronavirus cases, with the Portuguese president declaring a second state of emergency on Friday. The country first declared a state of emergency on March 18, when it had recorded 642 cases and two deaths. 

The country has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, hitting a record 5,550 cases and 52 deaths on Friday, but has a relatively low number of cases compared to its European neighbours. 

Countries across Europe are imposing tougher restrictions to tackle the second wave of COVID-19.