Portugal Loosens a bit for Families at Christmas but Closes Mobility at the End of the Year

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Portugal has accumulated 322,000 cases, of which about 75,000 are active and almost 5,000 deaths until early December.

Yet, Portugal is going to relax restrictions at Christmas to allow families to travel and reunite, and the curfew will be delayed until 02:00, but it will be tougher at the end of the year when the country will restrict mobility between municipalities.

The Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, stated today the measures be in force during the holidays, although he warned that they do not have to be definitive: they will be reviewed again on December 18 and may change if the situation worsens. "It's a moment of meeting of the families, but we cannot forget that it will not be the Christmas that we would live in normal circumstances," warned the head of the Portuguese Government assuring that they are not encouraging the meetings but only allowing "them to take place."

On December 23, 24, 25 and 26, there will be no restrictions on mobility in the country, and the curfew will be delayed until 02:00 on December 24 and 25. Currently, it varies between 13:00 and 11:00, depending on the risk of the municipality. Saturday the 26th will be set at 23:00 to allow families to return to their habitual residence with ease and avoid rushing on the road. Tolerance, however, will be lower in year-end as it is a less symbolic date for families: the movements are prohibited unjustified between municipalities, although the curfew on New Year's Eve also is delayed until 2:00 PM. Besides, all public parties and gatherings of more than six people will be prohibited on public roads.

No Limit on the Number of People

Unlike other European countries, Portugal is not going to establish a maximum number of people for family celebrations since it does not want to "interfere" in their lives, said Costa, who considers that "they have enough information to know that the meetings are moments of risk." However, he requested the avoidance of contact with many people without a mask in closed, small and poorly ventilated places for long periods. "It must be a time to share, but not to share the virus," he emphasized. The restaurants, also impacted by the virus, will be able to give lunches on December 24, 25 and 31, and they will open until 01:00 at night, while they are allowed to give meals until 15:30 on December 26 and January 1.

State of Emergency

The Christmas holidays will almost certainly be passed under a state of emergency, as announced by the Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. At the same time, it is only approved until December 23 because the Constitution requires that it be reviewed every 15 days. The measures will be maintained for municipalities after 14 days as they have an incidence of more than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. There will be a curfew between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM, which is hardened on weekends in municipalities that exceed 480 cases.

The Figures Improve

Costa assured that there are signs of improvement in Portugal's pandemic situation, where the second wave is being more severe than the first, and that the figures show that the measures have yielded positive results. The country has experienced early December with a downward trend, although the total number of active cases reached almost 75,000 thousand on December 7.