PORTUGAL will gradually come out of lockdown sector-by-sector in three stages, Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced on Thursday.
The last day of the State of Alarm introduced six weeks ago to contain the spread of coronavirus will be tomorrow May 2. The country will then enter a state of ‘calamity,’ which will mean less restrictive measures, although controls on movements will remain in place.
On Monday businesses like small food stores and hair salons will be allowed to open, with the obligatory use of face masks and disinfectant gel.
Individual sports like golf and tennis will resume, but changing rooms must stay closed.
Gardens and libraries will reopen, while public transport will no longer be free and the use of face masks will be compulsory.
The government recommends continuing to work at home where possible during this stage, and gatherings will have to be limited to 10 people.
Assuming the Covid-19 outbreak continues to slow, the second phase will begin on May 18. Larger businesses will be allowed to open, as well as nursery schools, restaurants, bars and cafes. Cinemas, theatres and gyms will also be permitted to open from that date, but social distancing must be practised.
Some schools will reopen, but under strict restrictions, including the obligatory use of face masks.
Team sports in enclosed spaces or contact sports will still be restricted, with the exception of professional football. Matches will be allowed behind closed doors from May 30 for the first and second divisions to play the remaining games of the season.
The third and final phase of the lockdown de-escalation is expected to be in June, when beaches and hotels are expected to be allowed to reopen. Restrictions on group religious ceremonies are also expected to be lifted.
“We know this process has risks,” the Prime Minister commented at a news briefing.
“We know that as we open up various activities, the risk of transmission will increase.”
But he also made it clear he would “never be ashamed to take a step back if necessary for the safety of the Portuguese.”
Costa also stressed that the easing of the lockdown restrictions “does not free us from the civic duty of maintaining social distancing as much as possible.
“Until a vaccine is available on the market we have to carry on living with Covid-19,” he said.
“As long as there is Covid our lives cannot be normal.”
Portugal had registered 25,045 coronavirus infections by Thursday and 989 fatalities, much lower figures than neighbouring Spain.
The country has carried out widespread testing.