Portugal imposes tougher lockdown as case numbers rise

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Madrid, Jan. 13, 2021 The Portuguese government has ordered a strict nationwide lockdown, similar to one enacted almost a year ago, following a surge in cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

People will only be permitted to leave their homes for shopping, work, and medical appointments, according to the regulation, which applies from Friday.

The measure was initially due to last for a month, but is to be reviewed in 15 days, Prime Minister Antonio Costa told television channel RTP late on Wednesday.

“Don’t think about the exceptions, think about the rule. And the rule is easy: we all have to stay home,” Costa said.

Schools are to remain open, however, unlike the lockdown in the first wave of the virus.

But people are to work remotely wherever possible, without an agreement required between employers and staff, Costa said.

Professional football will continue, but games are to be played behind closed doors.

Restaurants and stores that sell goods other than food and basic necessities are also to close.

“We are experiencing dangerous times, but also with growing hope,” Costa said, referring to the rapid rise in case numbers on the one hand, and the vaccination campaign on the other.

A large majority of lawmakers in parliament also approved the extension of the state of emergency, which was introduced in early November and is now due to run initially until the end of the month.

Case numbers in Portugal have recently risen rapidly, with 10,566 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours on Wednesday, and 156 deaths.

These are record numbers since the outbreak began, according to Publico newspaper.

So far, the country of 10.3 million has seen more than 500,000 cases.

Portugal reported relatively low figures last year, but has seen rising case numbers in recent months.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said 517 people per 100,000 inhabitants were infected with the virus during the last 14 days.

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