Portugal to Emerge from Confinement, Somewhat: Creches, Hair Dressers, Book Stores, Libraries to Reopen March 15, Restaurants on April 5

The government has disclosed its plan to bring the country back out of tight restrictions, gradually — restaurants will not reopen until April 5, and only outdoors, and you can’t travel much outside your concelho until after April 5.

Hooray, country-mates!

Thanks to falling numbers of new cases of COVID, and lower daily death tolls, Portugal is beginning to lift its restrictions starting Monday, March 15, Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced on March 11.

The Council of Ministers in fact approved another state of emergency that will start March 17 and last for two weeks from then. But there’s definitely a gradual easing of the measures starting in just a few days, on Monday, March 15.

What Happens Monday

That’s when creches, as well as pre-schools and primary schools will reopen — as will hair and nail salons, bookshops and libraries, parks, gardens, and other green spaces, according to the plan published Thursday afternoon

Which, let’s be honest, should put a smile on our faces as far as our priorities here, no? Children, looks, books, and green spaces take precedent above all else? We’ll take it.

Click-and-collect options will also become available at some stores that have been shut in recent weeks. All stores will continue to close at 21h on weekdays and 13h on weekends and holidays (except grocery stores will stay open until 19h on weekends and holidays). And city halls will be able to allow non-food markets to restart, although it’s unclear which ones actually will.

As of Monday, there’s still no alcohol allowed in public spaces, and there will be no sales of alcohol in stores, as has been the case for months now, past 20h.

No Travel Between Concelhos

One of the more surprising measures is a ban on movement between municipalities not just on March 20 and 21, but for the entire Easter period, defined as going from March 26 to April 5.

April 5

Restaurant esplanadas (outdoor) can reopen April 5 —  as well as museums, monuments, palaces, art galleries, smaller stores, and second- and third-year school cycles. There’ll be a four-person maximum for outdoor dining — but you’ll also be allowed to have groups of up to four practicing sports outside, as long as it’s not a group class (you know who you are!).

April 19

Secondary education goes back to life, as does higher education. Cinemas, theaters, and other performance venues will be allowed to reopen too, as will ALL stores and shopping centers, and all dining establishments, with a limit of four inside and six outside, until 22h on the weekdays and 13h on the weekends and holidays. Up to six people will be able to engage in physical activity together, again, as long as they’re not in a group class — and, good news for festivals, some outdoor events, with limited capacity, will be allowed to return, which means this summer we may indeed have our big festivals back.

May 3

All dining establishments can reopen with no limits on schedules, but will with a six-person limit inside and a 10-person limit outdoors. All sports facilities will reopen, as will sports activities inside and out, as well as larger outdoor events, although still with limited capacity.

But for the love of all that is holy and also all that is not but is fun, please remember that these phases of restriction-lifting are only a guideline that assumes the country can handle COVID cases in its hospitals. If things turn worse again, guess what? No parties this summer for you, you sexy thing.

Be safe, be cool, be reasonable, people.

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