Portugal Extends COVID Restrictions

The Portuguese government has said that rising numbers of Covid-19 cases and increasing hospitalizations means the country must postpone plans to remove restrictions and social distancing rules.

Speaking on Thursday, Cabinet Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva told a news conference that the planned deconfinement would be postponed until at least July 11.

“Portugal is clearly in the red zone of our risk matrix, so there are no conditions to continue the deconfinement,” she said, adding that with the “concerning levels of Covid… we don’t have conditions to move forward.”

While plans to move forward were put on hold, Albufeira, Lisbon, and Sesimbra took two steps further back into lockdown. There are currently 19 municipalities on alert over Covid infection levels.

The Portuguese capital will see new restrictions, with people required to provide a negative coronavirus test or a vaccination certificate to enter or exit the city over the weekend.

Restaurants and cafés will also be forced to close at 3:30pm local time at the weekend.

“We are in a fight against time between the progression of the disease and the process of vaccination,” da Silva added.

The country has seen cases spike over the last week, with 1,556 new infections on Thursday – Portugal’s biggest single jump since late February.

Earlier this week, the government announced it was stepping up efforts to inoculate the population, with just over a quarter fully vaccinated to date.

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