The government announced last week that the state of emergency in Portugal was to be extended for the thirteenth time until 31 March but also announced the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions which began on 15 March with the opening of nursery, pre-school and primary schools for face to face teaching, as well as the reopening of hairdressers and beauticians, bookshops, libraries, the car trade and real estate mediation.

While the easing of lockdown in Portugal is to be ‘gradual’ and will be subject to bi-weekly assessments, Prime Minister António Costa has however made it very clear that the Portuguese people will need to stay in their homes under general lockdown until Easter.

The reopening measures will be also reviewed whenever Portugal exceeds “120 new cases [of infection] per day per 100 thousand inhabitants in 14 days” or whenever the transmissibility index (Rt) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus exceeds the rate of 1.

What is opening and when?
If the first phase of the easing of lockdown proves to be successful then it is planned that on 5 April, students from the second and third cycles of schools will return to face-to-face education. Also on this date museums, art galleries and shops up to 200sqm with a door to the street can also open again while low-risk sports can be practiced and physical activity outdoors is allowed in groups of up to four people and gyms can reopen, but without group classes.

The plan then foresees on 19 April the opening of secondary schools and universities alongside the opening of cinemas, theatres and concert halls and other shops and shopping centres. Also on this date, restaurants and cafes will be able to open to the public but with a maximum capacity of four to a table inside and six outside and can be open until 10pm during the week and until 1pm at the weekend.

If all goes to plan, on 19 April physical activity will once again be allowed outdoors in a group of up to six people, as well as medium-risk sports, while outdoor events can be held with reduced capacity and weddings and baptisms with the restriction of 25 percent of the capacity of the spaces.

The final date in the calendar is 3 May when restaurants and cafes can open without a time limit but still with a capacity of six at a table inside and 10 on the terrace while all sports, outdoor sports and gyms can operate without restriction and large outdoor and indoor events will be permissible with reduced capacity and weddings and baptisms can be held with 50 percent of capacity.

Continued restrictions
Circulation between municipalities in mainland Portugal will be prohibited over the weekend of 20 and 21 March and during the Easter period, between 26 March and 5 April as part of a measure intended to “guarantee that Easter is not a time for travelling and meeting, but, on the contrary, another moment of lockdown”, according to the Prime Minister.

Importantly, the Prime Minister also highlighted the need to continue with general lockdown measures and for people to remain at home when possible at least until Easter. The prime minister stated that the general lockdown will be reassessed after Easter, recalling that it can only exist when there is a state of emergency.

“In the absence of a state of emergency, we adopted another figure, which we call the civic duty of recollection,” he said.