Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Portugal tightens virus restrictions amid record surge

Prime Minister Antonio Costa declares ‘state of calamity’, says gatherings will be limited to five people

Alyssa McMurtry   | 14.10.2020
Portugal tightens virus restrictions amid record surge

OVIEDO, Spain

Portugal’s prime minister announced stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus on Wednesday, as the number of confirmed daily infections surged to its highest level since the start of the pandemic. 

The Portuguese Health Ministry reported 2,072 cases over the last 24 hours – the first time the country confirmed more than 2,000 cases in a day.

To fight what the prime minister called “the serious evolution” of the infectious disease, the country has become one of the European nations that have enforced stronger measures lately.

Antonio Costa declared that the country was raising the level of alarm to “state of calamity” to facilitate new measures.

From midnight, gatherings in public spaces will also be limited to a maximum of five people, while private celebrations, like weddings, can have a maximum of 50 guests.

Colleges and universities will also be forbidden to hold any events that are not strictly academic.

The number of police officers to check compliance with all the COVID-19 prevention measures will be boosted and fines will be raised to a maximum of €10,000 ($11,760) for those who break the rules.

Costa also urged residents to download the virus-tracking app and wear masks, adding that he will soon present a new law to impose the use of masks in all public spaces.

“Let us replace fatigue with the determination that we need to win this marathon, which will only end when there is an effective treatment or a vaccine that ensures community immunization,” he said.

In a news conference, Health Minister Marta Tenido said on Wednesday the number of new infections in Portugal will “tend to worsen in the coming days,” and highlighted a new model predicting that the country would soon break the barrier of 3,000 cases per day if no new measures were taken.

In total, Portugal has confirmed 2,117 deaths from COVID-19 and 91,193 infections.

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