Restrictions which have been in place across Portugal to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are being gradually lifted from 1 August as part of a three phase plan to open up the country again.
Prime Minister António Costa explained that from now on a countrywide approach will be adopted so there will no longer be different rules in place for municipalities based on their incidence rate.
“We will no longer apply differentiated measures depending on the situation in each municipality and the measures will have a national dimension”, said António Costa, at the press conference at the end of the Council of Ministers on the new easing of lockdown plan.
The prime minister stated that there are three factors that justify this national dimension, namely the vaccination rate, which "is currently substantially homogeneous throughout the national territory", the current delta variant, which "is predominant" throughout the country and the entry into a period "of great inter-municipal and inter-regional mobility, in particular due to holidays".
“Therefore, this differentiation in terms of the municipalities would make little sense,” he said.
What are the new rules?
One of the main changes at the national level is related to time restrictions for commerce, restaurants and shows, which will now all be able to open until a maximum of 2am and the removal of the nightly curfew across the country.
Where will digital certificates be needed?
You will still need to provide a digital vaccination certificate, proof of recovery or a negative Covid-19 test in the following situations:
- Travel by air or sea
- Entering tourist or local accommodation establishments
- Sit inside in restaurants on weekends and holidays
- Attend gyms, spas and casinos
- To participate in cultural, sporting or corporate events, with more than 1,000 people outdoors or more than 500 indoors
- Weddings, baptisms and other festivities with more than 10 people.
What are the new phases?
António Costa has announced that the easing of lockdown in Portugal will take place over three phases, based on vaccination rates in the country and when these levels are expected to be reached.
Phase 1 (beginning on 1 August)
- End of nightly curfew between 1pm and 5am
- Sporting events are now open to the public, according to the DGS rules
- Cultural shows now have a capacity of 66%
- Weddings, baptisms and other similar festivities have a capacity of 50%
- Entertainment equipment — including bumper cars and popular fairs — can now return in authorised locations in municipalities
- Remote work is no longer mandatory but recommended
- Bars and clubs are still closed
Phase 2 (scheduled for 5 September or when 70% of the population is fully vaccinated)
- It is no longer mandatory to wear a mask in public areas — except in crowds
- Cultural shows now have a capacity of 75%;
- Weddings, christenings and other similar festivities at 75% capacity
- Public transport no longer limited in its capacity
- Public services start working without prior appointment
Phase Three (scheduled for October or when 85% of the population is fully vaccinated)
- Reopening of bars and clubs, with entry allowed depending on the presentation of a digital certificate or negative test
- Restaurants no longer subject to maximum person limitations for groups
- No more room capacity limitations — valid for shows and for weddings and baptisms
“We are going to try to control the pandemic and guarantee a gradual resumption of activity, following the pace of complete vaccination of the Portuguese population”, said António Costa. The prime minister underlined that, despite some setbacks and delays in the delivery of vaccines, the task force has ensured reliable and continuous work, so it is possible to maintain this schedule.
Costa added that "if we are fortunate that the dates indicated for completing each of these phases of vaccination are completed earlier, the restrictions may also be eliminated earlier."
But despite the advances in vaccination, the prime minister also warned that it is necessary to keep the pandemic under control and that, for this, it remains "indispensable" to maintain the individual protection measures adopted since the beginning of the pandemic, such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance and washing hands.
The Prime minister also stressed that "no one is in a position to guarantee", whether in Portugal or in Europe, that "there will not be new variants that could disturb the evolution of the pandemic". For this reason, Costa guaranteed that the Government will maintain “permanent monitoring” of the evolution of the pandemic and that “it will not hesitate to stop or retreat in the easing of lockdown if necessary.