Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced the country will enter a "state of calamity" midnight on Wednesday, saying the Covid-19 situation in the country was “serious.”
“We can classify the evolution of the pandemic in Portugal as a serious one,” Costa told journalists as he announced the state of calamity at a press conference, following a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The declaration gives the government exceptional powers to adopt additional measures to try to curb the spread of the virus.
Costa said additional restrictions would be imposed immediately, namely limiting the number of gatherings in public, commercial spaces or restaurants to no more than five people. In schools and universities, celebrations and non-academic activities will be forbidden and family events, such as weddings and baptisms, will be limited to a maximum of 50 guests.
Costa went on to say that authorities would be called upon to increase surveillance and enforcement of these rules in public places, namely restaurants and shops, increasing fines for up to 10,000 euros for businesses who do not enforce the rules.
“It is necessary to revive the memory that it is really necessary to follow these rules,” Costa said, adding that there had been some relaxation, as time passed.
Costa also said the government would put forward a bill to make the use of masks in certain outdoor spaces mandatory. The bill would also make it mandatory for the Portuguese to sign up for the Portuguese National Health Service’s track and trace app.
The Portuguese Prime minister made a point of differentiating the newly declared “state of calamity” from the “state of emergency” the country declared in March, before going into lockdown. He said Government advice on working from home would remain the same, and borders would be kept open.