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JOSÉ SENA GOULÃO/LUSA

Portuguese to know how they will be spending Christmas by this week – President

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said the decision to extend (or not) the state of emergency over the festive season would need to take place this Friday (December 3), “as the Portuguese deserved to know how they will be spending their Christmas”.

Marcelo told journalists that the Christmas holidays were dependent on the announcement of a “renewal of the state of emergency” later in the month.

The latest state of emergency was renewed on November 24 and requires that people stay home after 11pm and in the very high risk and extremely high-risk boroughs that they stay indoors after 1pm at weekends (with restaurants and other businesses also closing at 1pm).

The current state of emergency ends on December 8 but could be extended for another 15 days.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said the Portuguese should not have to wait until the end of that period to find out what they can and can’t do during Christmas.

“Although in order to comply with the Constitution, the deadline for renewing, or not, the state of emergency ends at 11.59pm on December 23, it seems fair that the Portuguese should know in advance how they can organise their Christmas break (December 24 to 27),” he said.

Portugal reported 5,444 new COVID-19 infections on Friday and 67 deaths, according to the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), as the number of cases has surged in recent weeks,  putting the health system under pressure.