PM and President at previous Infarmed meeting

Restaurant restrictions and nighttime curfew ‘could be about to end’

Restrictions on the operating times of restaurants – as well as the nighttime curfew – imposed in municipalities of “high” and “very high risk” of virus transmission could be about to end.

Ahead of the meeting tomorrow between the government and experts at Infarmed, political commentator Luís Marques Mendes has intimated that major changes in the country’s ‘approach’ to the pandemic could be on the cards.

Specialists are proposing that unpopular restrictions that many have argued since the start ‘make no sense’ be brought to an end.

It is not certain their advice will be taken on board, but on the basis that no-one can show how a restaurant closing at 10.30pm ‘saves’ people from contracting a virus compared to one that closes a couple of hours later, it is very possible that it might.

The 11pm curfew during the holiday month of August would also be difficult to ‘control’ if people chose not to abide by it.

Another sign that the ‘powers-that-be’ could be erring towards a relaxation of measures came from President Marcelo as he visited Vila Real, in the north yesterday.

He described the country as “approaching the end of the pandemic” – and did his best once again to counter the latest inflammatory headlines that had been screaming “Portugal is the country with the most daily deaths in the European Union”.

On a day when eight fatalities were recorded (and SIC television news reported that four out of every five deaths are in people over the age of 70) the president chose instead to stress that the Rt (transmission) number “has fallen consistently over the last few days”.

This means that case numbers will start reducing, he said.

“Hospital internments have not hit the 1,000-mark, between general infirmaries and intensive care. They have gone up and down, up and down in the same hundreds, and (the number of patients in) intensive care has not reached 200. When I declared a State of Emergency there were 340”, he stressed.

Indeed, even in papers that still run with headlines like “hospital internments continue to rise”, it is accepted that the government’s red line for intensive care is 245 patients. The country is currently on 193.

In other words, tomorrow may bring a bit of light relief as the holiday season gets underway in earnest, and many beach bars and restaurants have finally started to enjoy some serious movement.