Portugal relaxes coronavirus lockdown
From 4 May, Portugal relaxes coronavirus lockdown measures by allowing various businesses to open every 15 days. This will begin with small local shops such as bookstores, car dealers and hairdressers.
Since the pandemic lockdown 6 weeks ago, 20 percent of Portuguese employees are inactive. Almost 381,000 of them are unemployed.
Strategy not without risks
Whilst acknowledging that this strategy could increase the risk of further infection Antonio Costa, the Portuguese Prime Minister, it’s clear that he must balance this against the country’s ailing economy. In a recent press conference he stated that he would not hesitate to roll back the strategy if it proved necessary.
There are 25,045 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Portugal and 989 deaths. By comparison to its neighbours the country has fared well with a virus reproduction rate (‘R’) of just 0.94. This means that each person who is infected with the virus passes it on to less than one. Testing rates at 37,000 per million population are some of the highest in the world.
90 percent of coronavirus cases have been treated at home, with only 1 percent being treated in intensive care. Portugal’s hospital bed capacity has stayed under 65 percent throughout the pandemic.
Heath ministry statistics reveal that since 23 March new virus infections have lowered.
New rules – Phase 1
Commencing on 4 May, the wearing of face masks will be mandatory in specified public spaces including on public transport.
Those who are able to work from home should continue to do so with social gathering and business meeting limited to 10 people only. However, funerals can be attended by family members.
To assist in the monitoring of new COVID-19 CASES, a government contact tracing app is currently under development.
From Monday, people will be able to participate in golfing and playing tennis. However, changing rooms must remain closed. Public libraries and gardens will also be reopened.
It’s possible, subject to health ministry approval that the last 10 matches of the soccer league can be played by Primeira Liga from 30 May. Nevertheless, these matches will have to be played behind closed doors.
Social distancing should be maintained irrespective of the relaxation of lockdown measures.
Subject to the infection rate continuing to slow down, phase 2 of the strategy will commence on 18 May. Larger retail stores, coffee shops, restaurants and museums are among those allowed to reopen. These outlets will operate under reduced capacity.
Childcare centres, preschools, and high schools (Grades 11 and 12) will also reopen but pupils must wear face masks and will be subject to other restrictions. For the remainder of the academic year other tuition will continue at home.
Office workers may be able to return to work in June. And subject to social distancing being practiced, people will be able to go to cinemas, theatres and shopping malls.
Until a vaccine becomes available the Prime Minister said that the Portuguese “must carry on living with the virus” but pointed out that as long as COVID-19 exists without a vaccine life would not be normal.
Economy and business
Portugal’s GDP (gross domestic product) is set to contract by 8 percent according to IMF (International Monetary Fund) predictions.
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