The Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, addressed the nation on 13 January and announced the new stricter lockdown rules to be applied across the country.
His primary focus was on highlighting the need for everyone to stay at home whenever possible.
“The fundamental message from the decisions that we have made, is to highlight the need for everyone to stay at home, as was practiced in March and April”, said the Prime Minister.
The rules for the lockdown in general will be the same as were applied in the first phase, which were applied from March to April last year. The only major change for this will be that children will be able to attend schools, with all educational establishments remaining opening.
António Costa explained that the possibility of closing schools had been up for discussion but the Minister of Education highlighted that sending students home would lead to greater risks than the spreading of the virus of a generation of children. “We will keep all educational establishments fully operational”, he added.
In his message he also highlighted that the vaccine against the Covid-19 virus had given hope to many that we would be able to overcome the pandemic but that this had also led to a general relaxation by the Portuguese people which he felt justified the return to full lockdown. He added: “There should be no fatigue in trying to combat the pandemic because the collective pain of having more than 100 deaths a day in the country is simply unacceptable,” he added that the price we are paying is “unbearable”.
Working from home will continue to be mandatory however the seriousness of not following these rules has been stated by the Prime Minister who added that there will be “very serious fines” for those who breach the teleworking rules.
“Working from home really is mandatory whenever possible. To ensure compliance with this obligation, we consider that a violation of this to be very serious and will result in fines. As a sign to the population about the severity of this issue we ask every individual to be responsible and all fines predicted for pandemic violation are doubled,” said the prime minister.
For those who are unable to work from home António Costa has assured that the simplified layoff regime will be automatic for all businesses forced to close and to guarantee support to all those affected. He added that he sympathized with people losing their social life and freedoms but added that “life is priceless” and the price that the country is having to pay now is because the pandemic is “unbearable”.
"We have reached a point where it is not possible to hesitate about what needs to be done," António Costa continued, stating that "we fought collectively to avoid what we are deciding today. We started taking the first measures on September 15th and were adapting the measures according to the evolution of the pandemic. We pulled the handbrake for the New Year. The cost of human life is priceless and we have reached a point where it is not possible to hesitate in relation to what needs to be done ", he explained.
All businesses that were closed in the first lockdown will once again close, this will include hairdressers and gyms, with restaurants only being able to offer take away options. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open with restrictions on the number of people able to enter.
The prime minister made it clear that on the whole the rules for the lockdown would be the same as during March and April, with the exception of schools.
The new lockdown rules will come into force for the entire country from Friday, 15 January.