Portugal poised to lift more restrictions as pandemic ebbs

Portugal is on track to further loosen restrictions on movement next week, as planned, after keeping a lid on the spread of COVID-19 while easing a lockdown

LISBON, Portugal — Six weeks after starting to gradually ease an extended pandemic lockdown, Portugal has kept a lid on the spread of COVID-19 and is on track to further loosen restrictions next week as planned.

That means the southern European country is likely from next Monday to lift limits on the opening hours of restaurants and cafes, allow major indoor and outdoor events though with limits on capacity, and increase the number of people who can attend weddings and baptisms. Rules on social distancing and the wearing of face masks are to remain in place.

Health experts at a televised meeting with the country’s political leaders, including the president and prime minister, on Tuesday said the pandemic trend has remained stable in recent weeks.

Portugal on Monday officially recorded no deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since early August. Elderly care homes have recorded no deaths for two weeks.

The virus incidence rate per 100,000 population over 14 days — a key pandemic measure — stands at 67. At the end of January, it was 1,628.

Intensive care units in the country of 10.3 million people were treating more than 900 patients in early February, but now are looking after 91.

The government is due to announce later this week whether the next phase of easing the lockdown will begin on May 3 as planned.

It is also likely that the national state of emergency, decreed just over a year ago to grant the government legal powers for imposing lockdowns, won’t be extended beyond the end of this week.


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