"One-off [day off] is granted to workers who perform public functions in the State's direct administration services, whether central or decentralised, and in public institutes, on February 21, 2023", reads in the order, which the agency Lusa had access to.

The prime minister stated that, "although Carnival Tuesday is not on the list of mandatory holidays stipulated by law, there is a consolidated tradition in Portugal of organising parties during this period".

According to the dispatch signed by António Costa, the exceptions are "services and bodies that, for reasons of public interest, must remain in operation during that period, in terms to be defined by the competent member of the Government".

"Without prejudice to the continuity and quality of the service to be provided, the top managers of the services and bodies referred to in the previous number must promote the equivalent waiver of the duty of attendance of the respective workers, on a day to be set in due course", reads the document.

Since António Costa took office as prime minister, in November 2015, the only time he has not signed the time off order on Carnival Tuesday was two years ago, as the country was in general confinement due to the pandemic from Covid-19.

In February 2021, the state of emergency was in force in Portugal, with a general duty to collect – and consequent ban on public festivities – and with a wide range of activities closed to contain the spread of the disease.