Europe

'State of calamity': Portugal braces for tighter COVID-19 restrictions

Portugal taking stricter measures despite 86% of population - nearly everyone eligible - being fully vaccinated

Alyssa McMurtry   | 26.11.2021
'State of calamity': Portugal braces for tighter COVID-19 restrictions A view of a tram moves through narrow streets amid a daily life in Lisbon, Portugal on November 5, 2021. ( Burak Akbulut - Anadolu Agency )

OVIEDO, Spain 

Portugal, a country with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, will be implementing a host of new measures to control COVID-19, including tighter border controls and a week of post-holiday confinement, the prime minister announced on Thursday. 

“We don’t want to repeat the tragic experience of last January,” Antonio Costa said, referring to a time when Portuguese hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

From Dec. 1, the country will enter a “state of calamity” that gives the government legal powers to implement tighter measures.

Requiring all arrivals to Portugal by plane, whether vaccinated or not, to present a negative COVID-19 test result is one of the measures.

Masks will again become mandatory in all indoor environments, including offices. Also making a return is the COVID passport, meaning everyone must show a vaccine certificate or negative test to use hotels, restaurants, and other leisure facilities.

As the holiday season approaches, the government is also reminding people of the importance to take at-home COVID-19 tests before going to social gatherings with friends or family.

A post-holiday “containment week” has also been planned. From Jan. 2, remote work will be mandatory, bars will close, and school holidays will be extended.

Portugal has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with 86% of its entire population fully immunized.

Still, the two-week infection rate has quickly reached 250 cases per 100,000 people.

It, however, is significantly lower than other European countries such as Austria, Slovenia, Belgium, or the Czech Republic, where the infection rate is more than 1,000.

“Despite our vaccination success ... we are entering a high-risk phase because we are seeing an increase in the pandemic in the rest of Europe and Portugal is not an island,” said Costa.

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