Portugal leaves ‘state of calamity’, eases pandemic control measures

Portugal’s Covid-19 pandemic-induced “state of calamity” is over and is now replaced by a “state of alert”, the country’s Council of Ministers said.

The lockdown measures have also been relaxed, reports Xinhua news agency.

Once the country’s President promulgates the ordinance, the lowest civil protection alert level will apply until the next review scheduled for March 7, the Council said on Thursday.

Accordingly, a digital certificate of vaccination is no longer needed to access restaurants and hotels but will still be required to cross the country’s borders.

The quarantine requirement will only apply to people who test positive for Covid-19 irrespective of whether they have symptoms or not, according to Mariana Vieira da Silva, minister of state for the Portuguese Presidency.

The “recommendation of teleworking” also ends, and there will be no need to present a negative test result when entering major events, sports venues, bars or clubs.

The Council of Ministers’ resolution also removes the capacity limits for establishments open to the public.

“This is another step towards returning to a normal life, which was interrupted a year ago,” Vieira da Silva told journalists.

However, the government will not lift all the pandemic control measures as the number of Covid-19-related deaths is “still very high” in the country, she said.

The requirement to provide a negative test result to visit nursing homes or patients in healthcare settings will remain in force, and so will the face mask mandate in enclosed spaces.

According to Vieira da Silva, these latter restrictions will only be removed when the country reaches “20 deaths per one million inhabitants every 14 days”.

Currently, Portugal still registers “63 deaths from Covid-19 per one million inhabitants”.

“This is not the time to say that the pandemic is over. We continue to face the risk related to the emergence of new variants of the virus and there is some uncertainty about the duration of protection provided by vaccines,” she said.

Portugal recorded 16,488 new infections with SARS-CoV-2 in the past 24 hours and 42 deaths, the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) said.

According to the government’s daily epidemiological bulletin, 2,022 people were hospitalised on Thursday, 119 fewer than on Wednesday, and 132 people were in intensive care units.

Since March 2020, at least 3,148,347 people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Portugal and 20,708 people have died.

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