(Lisbon) Portugal’s state of emergency, which has been in force since November to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, will end on Friday thanks to improved health conditions, the head of state said on Tuesday.
“I have decided not to extend the state of emergency,” President of the Portuguese Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said in a televised address.
A call for caution
“Stabilization and reduction of the number of deaths and hospitalizations. […] influenced my decision, ”he added, but called for caution.
After a peak of nearly 13,000 new COVID-19 cases at the end of January, the number of daily infections in recent days has stabilized below 500.
A state of emergency is an exceptional regime that, inter alia, allows the government to take action to restrict certain freedoms in order to slow the progression of a pandemic.
After consulting with experts on Tuesday about the health situation in Portugal, the government is to decide this week whether it will continue with its gradual deconfinement plan.
“The fight against the pandemic is progressing positively,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa greeted on Tuesday, while no COVID-19-related deaths were reported in the country the day before, for the first time since August 2020.
The next and final phase of the deconfinement plan is scheduled for Monday, including the return of public events.
Cruel third wave
After two months of general containment aimed at containing the third wave of the violent epidemic, Portugal began to loosen its grip in mid-March.
Only a dozen municipalities with too high morbidity did not complete all deconfinement steps.
Portugal has passed the milestone of 3 million injected vaccines. Almost 800,000 people have already received two doses of the vaccine in this country of just over 10 million, according to the latest public health report, which aims to reach 70% of the vaccinated population this summer.