Portugal’s Council of Ministers has just announced that restaurants in 60 ‘high-risk’ boroughs up and down the country – nine of them in the Algarve – will be allowed to open at weekends until 10.30pm as long as they only admit people inside their premises presenting Covid Digital Certificates or negative tests.
What this means is that restaurants that had been restricted due to the high incidence of positive cases of SARS-CoV-2 in their municipalities, will now be able to work through what is often their busiest times: the weekends and Bank Holidays.
They will also be able to admit people without Covid Digital Certificates or showing negative tests to their terrace areas at weekends.
During the week, business will be ‘as normal’. People will not have to present Covid Digital Certificates or negative tests to eat either lunches or dinners.
Another new demand by the government is that anyone staying at a hotel, guest house or Alojamento Local (local lodging property) anywhere in the country will also need to present either a Covid Digital Certificate or negative test for SARS-CoV-2.
These new measures will come into place from tomorrow and apply to the following boroughs:
Arruda dos Vinhos
Paredes de Coura
Salvaterra de Magos
São Brás de Alportel
Sobral de Monte Agraço
Viana do Alentejo
Vila Nova de Famalicão
Vila Nova de Gaia
which are a mixture of those where incidence of the virus is considered ‘elevated’, and ‘very elevated’.
Elsewhere there are another 34 boroughs ‘on alert’ – in other words their numbers are already running at over 120 cases per 100,000 but they are not yet elevated. The inference is ‘if they become elevated’ they too will be bound by harsher restrictions next week.
These 34 boroughs are:
Caldas da Rainha
Carregal do Sal
Figueira da Foz
Oliveira do Bairro
Porto de Mós
Póvoa do Varzim
Reguengos de Monsaraz
Santiago do Cacém
Vila do Bispo
Vila Real de Santo António
(in other words, a further five boroughs ‘at risk’ of more extreme restrictions can be found in the Algarve. This translates into only two boroughs in the Algarve (Aljezur and Alcountim) that are neither at risk, running with elevated cases, or with very elevated cases.)
Today’s press conference was shared with minister of the economy Pedro Siza Vieira who outlined a new line of credit being introduced for micro and small businesses in the tourism sector, guaranteeing that businesses affected by the pandemic would also be able ‘to restructure their debts when bank moratoria come to an end in September.
The 60 boroughs deemed of elevated and very elevated risk continue with the demands of last week when it comes to restrictions on weddings/ baptisms/ cultural events/ gyms and commerce (click here), and with the 11pm curfew.
The potential ‘good news’ with regard to access to restaurants demanding Covid Digital Certificates or negative tests is that these tests can be the cheap ‘do-it-yourself’ tests which are due to come on sale at supermarkets, though these will have to be performed ‘at the door’ of establishments.
Otherwise people can show PCR tests or antigen tests taken within the requisite time periods previously (PCR tests have a 72-hour validity, antigen tests 48-hours).
The nitty gritty of how all this will work will obviously start coming more clear when the new practice begins.
It is being reported that the Covid Digital Certificate or negative tests will be needed from 7pm on Friday, and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Said minister for the presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva, the last week particularly has seen a worsening of Portugal’s epidemic, with a 54% increase in the average number of new cases.
The country is running now on an incidence rating of 254.8 cases per 100,000, with Rt (transmission) at 1.20.
The government’s new approach has included doing away with the weekend lockdowns in the capital (which experts had described as ‘trying to stop the wind with one’s hand’).