With the cases of Covid-19 increasing dramatically, Portugal has decided to strengthen the control of access to restaurants and hotels. The measure aims to prevent further contagion and, at the same time, to preserve the functioning of the food and tourism sectors during the high season of the European summer.
To be admitted to internal dining rooms or to check in at hotels, hostels and seasonal apartments, you will need to present a negative test result for Covid-19 or proof of full vaccination against the disease.
In the case of restaurants, the measure is only valid on weekends (from 7 p.m. on Friday), in the 60 cities classified at high or very high risk of contagion. The list includes Lisbon and Porto. For hotel establishments, the obligation is valid every day and throughout the country. Children 12 and under are exempt from the rule.
PCR tests performed up to 72 hours before submission will be accepted. Rapid antigenic tests with laboratory report are valid for 48 hours. Institutions will also accept the so-called European digital certificate, which attests to a vaccination, a recent laboratory test or proof that the person had the Covid for less than six months.
Recognizing that there are still limitations on access to the European Union digital certificate and laboratory analyzes, the government has also authorized the use of rapid self-tests, which must be carried out at the entrance of establishments. These antigen tests cost around 2.7 euros (R $ 16.80) and are easily found in pharmacies and supermarkets. The hotels and restaurants themselves can sell them.
There is also a national government testing program, which guarantees up to four free antigen tests per month at partner pharmacies. Some cities, like Lisbon and Cascais, have their own free and independent testing programs.
The requirement is not valid for customers who are outside in restaurants. Responsibility for the control of digital tests and certificates will be borne by the establishments. Customers who do not comply with the measure are liable to fines ranging from 100 euros to 500 euros (620 to 3,100 R $). For hotels and restaurants, the penalty can reach 10,000 euros (R $ 62,000).
With the obligation to prove vaccination or the negative test for Covid-19, the government has decided to extend the opening hours of restaurants on weekends. Due to the increase in infections, restaurants in the worst-affected cities have had to close their activities no later than 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
In an attempt to stop the spread in the country of the delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, authorities have even imposed restrictions on entering or leaving the Lisbon metropolitan area in recent weeks. ends.
As the new strain is already widespread in Portuguese territory – it was responsible for 89.1% of cases last week, according to the National Institute of Health Dr Ricardo Jorge, traffic limitations in greater Lisbon have now been lifted.
The emergence of the delta variant is considered to be the driving force behind this fourth wave of Covid-19 in the country. Portugal experienced a 54% increase in the daily average of new coronavirus cases last week. This Thursday (8), for the second day in a row, there have been more than 3,000 cases recorded in the last 24 hours. The nine deaths recorded on Wednesday represent the highest figure in the past three months.
After being singled out as a good example of control at the start of the pandemic, Portugal saw the situation spiraling out of control in January, after restrictions on agglomeration and travel were reduced during the holiday season.
With hospitals under pressure, the country has even asked for help from other countries in the European Union. The situation was brought under control with very restrictive confinement, which lasted for about two and a half months.
To avoid a new containment, the authorities are now trying more specific control measures, such as the requirement of tests or vaccination certificates in restaurants. “Today, with the digital certificate, with the much more frequent availability of tests, we have other conditions to guarantee more security in certain economic activities, without the same restrictions”, declared the Minister of the Presidency, Mariana. Vieira da Silva, after announcing the measures.
In cities with a high number of cases, the government has determined the implementation of a curfew, valid every day between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The opening hours of shops and cultural shows are limited and fitness centers cannot have group classes.
The country is also stepping up its vaccination program. Currently, 59.1% of the Portuguese population has already received at least one dose of the vaccine and 37.8% are fully immunized.