On Thursday evening, after another day of a rising death toll from COVID-19, the Portuguese government has tightened restrictions already in place as of Monday.
The curfew, which is currently from 23h to 05h on weekdays and 13h to 05h on the weekends, has been extended to 08h, according to the latest measures.
Atlas Note: The government website now has an English version of the restrictions, but as of 18h Friday, it was still listing the earlier ones.
As before, the curfew applies to all residents of high-risk concelhos — but the number of such concelhos shot up from 121 earlier this week to 191 on Thursday, although seven of the original ones have been taken off. Lisbon and Porto, alas, remain on the list.
Here’s the webpage where the government updates its list of those concelhos.
As before, exceptions are made for those who must work during those hours and don’t have the option of working remotely, emergency situations, procuring medicine and helping those in need in certain circumstances — as well as for exercise in the vicinity of your residence and walking your pets.
The curfew also applies to establishments, except pharmacies, clinics and other medical offices, grocery stores with street-facing entrances that are up to 200 m2 and gas stations. Restaurants can only be open during those hours for home delivery, and not later than 22h30.
Considering the difficulty of just surviving such restrictions for most restaurants, the government has also introduced a relief package. At the core is the government’s pledge to cover 20% of the losses restaurants will have to absorb on the weekends of Nov. 14-15 and 21-22. The relief package does not address another major COVID-related cost for restaurants: that of testing employees for the virus, which Atlas correspondent Melissa Haun covers here.
Outside the curfew, Portugal still offers far more options for socializing and being out than much of the rest of the world, with concerts and art exhibits still taking place, with modified hours to help people get home for the curfew. You need to wear a mask, and you can’t meet more than five people at a restaurant, for example.
As of Friday afternoon, more than 204,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Portugal, and 3,250 have died. For the past several days, more than 3,000 people have been testing positive each day, although the number of daily tests has also been between 20,000 and 40,000, far higher than it was this summer.
A bigger concern is the rising number of those dying after contracting the virus: on Friday, November 13, Direção-Geral da Saúde reported that 69 people had died over the previous 24 hours.
And the major challenge facing an already strained national health system — and exhausted frontline responders — is the rising number of COVID-19 patients in the country’s hospitals, accompanied by a rise of those in intensive care (UCI).