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Tangible tension in Portugal

The country is in a state of calamity in the face of the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. This is the highest level of the civil protection ladder, which has three.

The country is in a state of calamity in the face of the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. This is the highest level of the civil protection ladder, which has three.

From our correspondent in Lisbon Marie-Line Darcy – It is a surprise. The press leaned mainly for an extension of the current state of contingency, in force since September. It is not so. The Council of Ministers has decided to toughen anti-covid measures. Portugal is placed under a state of calamity, the highest level of the civil protection scale which has three. Prime Minister Antonio Costa in person announced the eight main changes in the framework of the fight against the pandemic.

It will no longer be possible to meet with more than five people on the public highway against ten previously. And those who are thinking of getting married or baptizing their children in the coming months will have to plan for repeated ceremonies for large families: the maximum number of guests will be 50, with masks and distancing on the program. A recent survey showed that more than six in ten cases of infections are caused within the family.

The government is also toughening up its tone for going out to restaurants and shops: establishments that do not respect the rules will be liable to a fine of up to 10,000 euros. Academic celebrations and frequent hazing in the fall are quite simply prohibited. Finally, the measures already in force under the previous state of contingency – restrictions on business hours, ban on the sale of alcohol after 8 p.m. etc. – are maintained.

The Prime Minister has also announced the decision to table a bill, with an urgent nature, in the National Assembly to make the wearing of a mask and the use of the application compulsory. A decision that is far from unanimous. It is judged to be authoritarian or ineffective. Strangely enough, there is a tendency among the population to keep facial protection in the street.

The Portuguese are showing themselves to be generally disciplined and Antonio Costa recalled this, stressing that it is undoubtedly this respect for the instructions that prevented the National Health Service from exploding at the start of the pandemic, in March and April. But the balancing act is difficult: halt or contain the advance of covid-19 when the flu has not yet appeared, while preserving the economy.

The call for citizens to participate in the effort to fight the coronavirus took on a dramatic tone. Antonio Costa has not hidden that, despite his reluctance, he will resort to more severe measures if necessary. Moreover, the first point announced by the head of government relates to what makes the main axis of the state of calamity: the capacity of the police to intervene “whenever they deem it necessary”. And the head of government gave the example of the restriction of movement. In short, the repressive or restrictive arsenal is able to come into action without having to resort to the legislative process.

New record of cases detected

The country broke the record for new cases detected on Wednesday, with the threshold of 2,000 cases crossed for the first time. On the hospital side, the tension is palpable. With 957 people hospitalized, or 49 more in 24 hours, including 135 in intensive care, the situation becomes tense again given the capacities. It is this degradation as the particularly important end of year celebrations in Portugal approach, that the government wants to stop. The business of all hammers the head of government.


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