Costa’s government approves third phase of lockdown exit – what is changing?
The government gave the green light last Friday to the third phase of lockdown exit, but some restrictions will remain in Lisbon due to localised outbreaks in industrial hubs and outskirts. From June 1, shopping malls, childcare centres, gyms, cinemas, theatres and other cultural venues can reopen across most of the country, but with capacity restrictions.
Gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed, and the 50% capacity rule on restaurants in place since their reopening on May 18 will be lifted.
But in the capital, where the majority of recently reported cases were located, gatherings remain limited to ten people, and shopping malls stay closed until at least Thursday. “Unfortunately, the evolution in Lisbon is significantly different from the rest of the country,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said. “But as I said at the beginning, I have no shame in taking a step back if necessary.”
The prime minister promised widespread testing of construction workers and those on temporary contracts in Azambuja, an industrial hub where 340 workers tested positive for the virus at two warehouses in recent weeks. Those living with workers will also be tested, Costa said, and housing made available to people needing to self-isolate.
Concerns are spreading about these localised outbreaks in poorer parts of Lisbon’s outskirts such as the “Jamaica” neighbourhood where residents asked for cafes to be closed and the area was cordoned off after a sudden spike in cases.
These are the main rules defined for the third phase of lifting containment measures (exceptions for Lisbon):
– Meetings are now allowed up to a limit of 20 people (in the Metropolitan Area of ??Lisbon. The limit of 10 people remains)
– Celebrations are now allowed to be held with agglomerations of 20 people, and the Directorate-General for Health must determine the guidelines, namely the capacity of religious ceremonies, family events (including weddings and baptisms, whether for civil or religious or other commemorative events) and corporate events held in spaces suitable for this purpose.
– The rule of mandatory work-from-home is eliminated, except for workers who present a medical certificate stating that they are covered by the exceptional protection regime for immunocompromised and chronically ill patients, workers with a sufficient level of disability, workers with children or other dependent dependents under 12 years of age or with a disability or chronic illness or when physical spaces and work organization do not permit safe compliance with the guidelines of the Directorate-General for Health and the Authority for Working Conditions.
– The Government suggests opting for “flexibility”, through daily shifts or weekly shifts, with ‘mirrored’ teams, “so that work methodologies can be formed” that will have to continue to be adopted throughout to the pandemic.
Commerce, restaurants and other economic activities
– Stores located in shopping centres and stores with an area greater than 400 m2 may reopen (except in the Metropolitan Area of ??Lisbon).
– By applying certain conditions and respecting the guidelines defined by the Directorate-General for Health, most activities may resume operations, including casinos and tattoo services.
– In catering establishments and the like, there is no longer a limitation that the occupancy does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity, as long as separation barriers are installed between customers and the distance between tables is 1.5 meters (restaurants can, however, choose to maintain the norms for reducing the capacity to 50% and the two-meter distance that is in effect).
– The areas of consumption of food and drinks (’food-courts’) of commercial units may reopen (except in the Metropolitan Area of ??Lisbon).
– The provision of services through digital media and contact centres with citizens and companies is maintained.
– The face-to-face service continue to be made by appointment.
– Citizen Shops reopen (except in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area).
– Face-to-face assistance is mandatory.
– Reopening of theatres, cinemas and auditoriums. (All rows can be occupied, but there must be a space between spectators, who will be required to wear a mask)
– Outdoor cultural events are allowed. (The use of a mask will not be mandatory, but there must be designated places)
– Reopening of gyms. (Among the measures that will have to be implemented, in addition to hygiene and disinfection care common to other activities, the Directorate-General for Health proposes a distance of three meters between users, suggests scheduling classes and training, imposes that only be lockers and toilets in changing rooms are used and that all employees and customers wear a mask, with the exception of times when they are teaching or training)
– Reopening of public indoor and outdoor pools.
– Reopening of infrastructures for the practice of individual sports and without physical contact.
– It is possible to practice sports within the “federated universe”.
-Reopening of pre-school education (starting today).
– Reopening of Leisure Activities (ATL’s) not integrated in school establishments (from June 15th).
– Reopening of family support and leisure activities (at the end of the school year, scheduled for June 26).