Portugal to return to ‘state of emergency’

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa declared the return of the country to a “state of emergency” for 15 days from November 9 to November 23 to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I just signed the decree on the second state of emergency in the course of the pandemic that has lasted for eight months and which we know can go on for some more,” Xinhua news agency quoted the President as saying in a media statement on Friday.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa had asked the President this week to declare a state of emergency, an initiative that was approved by Parliament on Friday afternoon.

The state of emergency is the highest stage of civil protection in Portugal.

It had been in force between March 19 and May 2 of this year, with two consecutive renewals, for a total of 45 days, allowing the restriction of freedom of movement and the use of private-sector health facilities.

The current emergency decree says that necessary restrictions may be imposed by public authorities to reduce the risk of contagion and implement measures to prevent and combat the epidemic, especially in municipalities with a higher level of risk.

There will be no compulsory confinement, but travel “justified for professional activities, for health care, assistance to third parties, attending classes and supplying goods and services” will be allowed, as well as a movement “for other reasons”, as specified by the government.

On Saturday, the Council of Ministers of the Portuguese executive will meet to define the details and specify the restrictions and exceptions that will be imposed in the country starting next week.

So far, Portugal has reported more than 167,000 coronavirus cases, with 2,792 deaths.