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After tough two months, Portugal once again looks to a future beyond COVID

After tough two months, Portugal once again looks to a future beyond COVID

PM António Costa unveiled a 3-step plan of easing restrictions

Portuguese people had to face the unpleasant reality of enduring anti-pandemic curfews right as the summer season was stepping up the gears. However, the summer wave now seems to be curbed as the vaccination rate is proceeding smoothly, which gave reasons for the Government to be cautiously optimistic.

Prime Minister António Costa gave a press conference on 29 July in Lisbon where he presented the latest plan for easing up the restrictions. It consists of three phases and is meant to go along and correspond to the vaccination rates in the country, which the Government said were unfolding better than the EU average.

The plan, nonetheless, makes reservations for the emergence of new COVID variants

The 3-step plan is scheduled to kick in on Sunday, 1 August when there will be a removal of limitations on street circulation. Sporting events will be open to the public (with social distance rules), cultural shows will operate at 66% capacity, but for weddings and baptisms, this will be only 50%. Remote working will change from mandatory to recommended. Bars and clubs will remain closed and parties and popular pilgrimages, which generate large crowds, will not be allowed.

The second phase, slated for the beginning of September (and depending on having reached 70% of a vaccinated populace), will see the end of the mandatory use of masks on public spaces, except in large gatherings, the increase in the capacity of weddings and baptisms and shows to 75%, and the end of capacity limits on public transport and the need to pre-book public services.

The third phase, planned for October (and depending on having reached 85% of vaccinated people), will see the opening of bars and clubs, with entry with a digital certificate or negative test, the ends of the limitation of the number of people per group in restaurants and the limited capacity in all venues.

The "intensive use of the digital certificate or, in its replacement, negative tests" will stay, and will be a condition for air or sea travel, access to tourist establishments or accommodation, restaurants, group classes in gyms, spas, casinos, and cultural, sporting or business events with more than a thousand people in an open environment, or 500 people in an indoor environment. The same goes for weddings, baptisms and other festivities with more than 10 people.

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