Mask Mandate Continues as Azores’ Smallest Island Offers a Glimmer of Hope

Safeguards continue in the battle against Covid-19 as figures show the devastating impact so far this year. However, the smallest island in the Azores brings a glimmer of hope for what the future might look like.

It has been reported that while  Covid-19 restrictions are gradually being lifted, the use of masks in public is likely to remain in place until at least the beginning of July, if not longer. The law requiring the use of masks has been in place since October 2020, in line with recommendations from medical experts. There are, of course, exceptions to this mandate such as when the activity precludes the wearing of a mask, the people are of the same household and not near a third party, or there is a medical exception.

The failure to wear a mask without good reason is likely to still result in a fine of between 100 and 500 euros, as put in place last year.

This comes as no surprise considering the severity of Covid-19 in recent months, with it being reported that more than half of all Covid-19 related deaths have occurred since the start of the year. Numbers released by DGS show 9,642 fatalities from January 1 to March 10, which translates as 58% of total Covid-19 deaths in Portugal. The majority of these were in January, with 5,805 deaths in that month alone compared to the 6,993 deaths from the whole of 2020.

On a more positive note, the island of Corvo – the smallest in the Azores – is now almost entirely vaccinated against Covid-19. Life for the population of roughly 400 residents has almost returned to normal, with cafés, bars, restaurants, and schools open and no mask requirement when outdoors. The small population size allowed for the full rollout of the vaccine as opposed to working through priority groups, according to Euronews.

Even before the vaccine, Corvo had largely escaped the pandemic, except for a single case of a resident who came to mainland Portugal at Christmas.

Related: Portugal Suspends AstraZeneca Vaccine, Vaccination of Teachers Delayed

Related: Portuguese Govn’t Approves At-Home Self-Testing for COVID

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