Portugal advances the last phase of the deconfinement and opens the border with Spain

Updated Friday, April 30, 2021 – 13:28

It will be the last relief to the restrictions that were imposed since January 15, when the Government decreed confinement in the face of a very harsh third wave

A couple on the beach in Albufeira.Rafael MarchanteREUTERSCoronavirus Portugal will lift the state of emergency on May 1

Portugal is going to advance the last phase of its deconfinement plan, initially scheduled for May 3, to day 1, when it will also open the land border with Spain, thanks to the stabilization of the pandemic in the country. “We can take a step forward into the next stage of deconfinement”announced the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, at a press conference, where he highlighted the “very positive evolution” that the country has maintained during the de-escalation process, which began on March 15.

It will be the last relief to the restrictions that were imposed since January 15, when the Government it decreed the confinement before a very hard third wave which came to place Portugal as the country in the world with the highest rates of infections and deaths. With the endorsement of epidemiologists, Portugal leaves behind even the state of emergency – the highest alert level, in force since November 9 – and from May 1 it will move to calamity, a lower step. Even so, the prime minister left a notice: “The civic duty of confinement continues. We must all avoid unnecessary contacts so that the pandemic does not get worse again. ”

END TO TIME RESTRICTIONS

This May 1, the hourly restrictions on restaurants will end, which on weekends could only open until 1:00 p.m. and, as the hoteliers demanded, It will close at 10.30pm every day, as well as the halls for shows and cultural events. It will also increase the maximum number of diners allowed per table, up to ten on terraces and six inside establishments. Business hours are extended on Saturdays and Sundays, the maximum capacity of the weddings and baptisms up to 50% and all sports modalities will be authorized, even those with a high risk of contact such as martial arts or rugby. The gyms, which reopened on April 5, will resume their group classes.

Despite the lack of refinement, some limitations remain: teleworking will continue to be mandatory until the end of the year and alcohol consumption on public roads is prohibited. What’s more, restaurants may only serve alcoholic beverages with meals and bars and nightclubs are still closed, with no anticipation of when they will be able to open. The new rules will be applied to 270 of the 278 municipalities that are part of the continental territory of Portugal, while the other eight remain in previous phases of the de-escalation because they present a greater risk of contagion.

OPEN THE BORDERS

On Saturday the land border with Spain will open, which has been closed since January 31 except for the transit of nationals and residents, transport of goods and cross-border workers, through authorized steps. It was the second time that the controls were restored along the 1,200 kilometers of the so-called Hispanolusa Ray during the pandemic, after a first closure that was in force between March 17 and June 30, 2020.

The opening will be welcomed at the border, where political and civil authorities, as well as the business sector, have insisted in recent months that this measure was strangling the economy of their regions. Antonio Machado, President of the Puerta de Europa Euroregion, which includes the border regions of Almeida (Portugal) and Ciudad Rodrigo (Salamanca), assured EFE today that the balance of this second closure has been “extremely negative”. Portugal, with just over 10 million inhabitants, has added 836,033 confirmed cases of the virus and 16,974 deaths since the pandemic began.

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