Coronavirus: Portugal tightens its COVID-19 measures and re-introduces the ‘State of Calamity’

The Government in Portugal decreed the "State of Calamity" throughout the country on 14th October, with new measures to stop the pandemic there.

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash
Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash
15 October 2020, Emma Donaldson

With an increasing number of coronavirus cases across Portugal, Prime Minister António Costa announced on 14th October 2020 that whole country would return to being in a state of emergency, better known as the "State of Calamity" in Portugal, with immediate effect. According to the Portuguese Government, the measure comes after the discovery that the spread of the coronavirus in Portugal is in a phase of "serious evolution". The last emergency period in Portugal ended on the 1st July 2020 to give way to the "new normal".

Until now, Portugal seems to have fared better than many other European countries when it comes to the spread of the virus and the number of COVID related deaths. However, as a result recent developments, the authorities aren't taking any risks and the re-introduction of the State of Calamity also comes with a series of updated measures to stop the spread of the virus, stating that every resident in Portugal has a personal responsibility in the fight against COVID-19. "The success of our fight against this pandemic depends on the personal behaviour of each one of us," said Prime Minister António Costa, as he announced the package of new measures.

Let's have a look at a summary of the 8 measures announced to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in Portugal, many of which are already known and have been in force for months, but will now have greater consequences for those who do not respect them:

  1. The alert level has changed from "State of Contingency" to a "State of Calamity" throughout the country, allowing the Government to adopt all the relevant measures that are necessary to contain the pandemic;
  2. Gatherings of more than 5 people are prohibited, both in private and public spaces (applied from midnight on 14th October 2020);
  3. Weddings and baptisms that take place from 15th October 2020 are exempt from the 5-person rule, however there must be no more than 50 people in attendance, and guests must comply with all the recommendations made by the Directorate General for Health in Portugal;
  4. All kinds of non-academic activities in schools and universities are forbidden, including university freshers events;
  5. There will be increased supervision by the Portuguese police forces, (inlcuding the PSP and GNR security authorities), to ensure compliance with these rules in public places and commercial establishments, and the ASAE (the Portuguese Food Safety authority) to make sure the necessary measures are obeyed in catering establishments;
  6. The amount that can be fined has been increased, with a maximum fine of 10,000 euros for those businesses that do not respect the rules regarding social distancing, including infringements of opening times;
  7. The use of face masks is highly recommended in outdoor spaces (masks are compulsory in closed spaces) and increased use of the "Stayaway COVID" mobile app is also being promoted;
  8. The Prime Minister is also seeking parliamentary approval on the mandatory use of masks in all public spaces, as well as the use of the "Stayaway COVID" app in schools, univeristies and in the workplace.
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