New coronavirus regulations in Portugal

The new rules came into force on 15th September 2020, with some meaures applying to the whole country and stricter rules in the cities of Porto and Lisbon.

Photo by Dominik Kuhn on Unsplash
Photo by Dominik Kuhn on Unsplash
17 September 2020, Redaction

Emergency brigades to stabilise coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes, bans on groups of more than 4 people in cafes near schools and rules to avoid concentrations in public transport and at work. These are just some of the new government measures, presented by António Costa in the Portuguese Parliament on Thursday 10th September 2020, to control the COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal. The rules came into force on 15th September 2020, the date when the country also returned to being in a state of contingency.

The return to school and work, but also the arrival of autumn, will undoubtedly bring changes in the daily lives of families in Portugal. For this reason, the Portuguese government has decided to tighten the coronavirus rules even further in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto, given their population density. The aim is simple: to make sure there is less movement and fewer crowds of people on their commute to work, especially on public transport. Among other things, the Executive wants companies to implement a time difference at work, with different entry and exit times for employees, as well as breaks and meals at different times, while also maintaining rotation between telework and face-to-face work. A rule which applies to the whole country is that the gathering of more than 10 people is still prohibited.

While presenting the new measures, the Prime Minister stressed that "controlling the pandemic depends first and foremost on individual behaviour", and called on everyone's conscience to ensure that the pandemic does not spread exponentially. With this in mind, he detailed the preventive measures "which depend exclusively on us, such as the use of masks, frequent hand washing, or the use of the 'Stayaway COVID' mobile application", things that must continue to be put in place.

"It was this personal responsibility that we demonstrated in March and April that was decisive in controlling the pandemic and will be decisive now in September, October, November and December," António Costa reiterated. Let's have a look at what has changed in Portugal with a summary of the new coronavirus regulations in the country as of 15th September. 

Coronavirus rules for the whole country

  • Meetings limited to 10 people
  • Commercial establishments may not open before 10am (with the exception of coffee shops, bakeries, hairdressers and gyms) 
  • Closing times of establishments must be between 20:00 and 23:00, by municipal decision
  • In shopping centre, a maximum limit of 4 people per group are allowed in areas where food is consumed
  • There is a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at petrol stations, as well after 8pm in all other establishments (except for alcoholic beverages purchased with meals)
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages in public spaces is also forbidden

The return to school in Portugal

  • Pupils return to the classroom in person between 14th and 17th September
  • There will be a process of readaptating schools to the new health reality
  • Contingency plans in all schools
  • Distribution of PPE (masks, visors, etc)
  • Specific rules for dealing with suspicious cases, positive cases or outbreaks
  • In restaurants, cafes and bakeries located 300 metres from schools, a maximum limit of 4 people per group has been established

Controlling the virus in nursing homes in Portugal

This area sees the creation of rapid intervention brigades which will be deployed in nursing homes to contain and stabilise outbreaks. These teams will involve doctors, nurses and diagnostic technicians.

The operation will involve around 400 people spread between 18 teams and will be operational by the end of September, with the aim of ensuring that any contagion in a home is more easily detected and resulting in guaranteed isolation, according to the government.

Football and other sports venues without an audience

The public is not allowed to enter sports grounds in order to avoid risk of contamination. "Why is it possible to go to the cinema or to concerts, while there restrictions on sports venues? All of us who have been to concert venues or cinemas know that the behaviour on show is somewhat different to what is usually seen in a football stadium. This imposes restrictions on the existence of audiences in football stadiums and other sports venues", the Prime Minister clarified.

Specific rules for Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas

  • The government refers to "mirror work", with scales of rotation between teleworking and face-to-face work
  • Mandatory time difference including differentiated entry and exit times and breaks and meals at work
  • Reduction of commuting movements

The Prime Minister noted that the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto are more prone to the risk of contagion due to greater population density and said that "an increased effort is needed to avoid the concentration of people, namely in the use of public transport and in the workplace".

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