Government poised to close restaurants and shops
The Portuguese Government looks set to close restaurants, bars and large stores from tomorrow (Jan12).
The measure was admitted by the minister for the Economy, Siza Vieira on Friday. If the decision is taken, companies will be able to apply for a simplified lay-off regime.
The measure which the Government is preparing “involves the closing of a range of activities,” such as restaurants, which will only be able to sell take-away, and non-essential retail outlets such as shops and shopping centres.
The minister compared the almost total lockdown to the measures undertaken by the Government in April and the first fortnight of May rather than the total closedown seen in Portugal in March when the State of Emergency had been announced by presidential decree.
The only difference this time is that schools will remain open, although it is not sure if Portugal’s forthcoming presidential elections will go ahead on 24 January or be postponed until a later date.
“As will be recalled, we kept industry, civil construction and food retail open and also small commercial non-food retail outlets,” he said.
When quizzed about the duration of this new confinement, Siza Vieira explained that the intention was to create a “sudden brake” in order to reduce the record number of new cases — more than 30,000 in just three days — and the enormous pressure on the Portuguese National Health Service (SNS).
The minister said the measures would likely have a much shorter duration than earlier in the year, but the decision would have to be pondered over the next few days. Nevertheless, the Government is likely to opt for a two-week raft of measures including the closure of large-area shops, shopping centres and all restaurants as well as continuing the weekend curfews which were introduced in December. These two-week measures will be subject to review depending on the spread or ‘R’ rate of the virus.
The measures will be decided on Tuesday 12 January after a meeting with experts from Infarmed and could come into force immediately from that date or on Thursday.
Portugal saw a new record in Covid-19 cases at 10,176 and 118 deaths by the weekend and the number of people in hospital rising to 3,451 patients while in the first week of the year the number of hospitalisation rose to 645 that week alone according to the Directorate-General of Health.