The sub Director-General for Health (DGS), Rui Portugal, said that instead of visiting other households over the festive period, people should consider other alternatives, focusing on “digital means, via a computer or mobile phone, or instead choosing quick visits in the back yard or garden of family members, or meeting in stairways of buildings to offer symbolic gifts to each other”.

Limiting meetings to the household is however, only a recommendation of the DGS and, therefore the comments made by Rui Portugal, during the press conference to update the Covid-19 pandemic numbers, were to only be considered as advice.

He went on to add that he recommends that not only should the number of contacts with other people be reduced, but the time that the family is together should be more limited than usual. Meanwhile, distancing must be ensured at all times and, whenever possible, families should attempt to come together in outdoor spaces.

For any celebrations between family members, Rui Portugal also highlighted that there should be no sharing of objects and asked for “a moderate and rational use of everything that may potentially spread the virus”.

Asked about possible limitations on visits to nursing homes during the festivities, the deputy director-general explained that no rules are in force, but asked for caution when visiting nursing homes.

On the night of 24 and 25 December, it will be forbidden to circulate on the public road from 2am in the municipalities of very high and extreme risk of transmission by the new coronavirus.

On 26 December, a Saturday, the ban on driving on public roads starts at 11pm in very high and extremely high-risk municipalities.

At the time of going to press the measures of restrictions in place over the festive period in Portugal were to be re-evaluated again on 18 December by the government.