May will be the ‘transition month’ for ‘a progressive resumption of social and economic life’ says President Marcelo
The President of the Republic today considered that, if the containment of the spread of COVID-19 in April proceeds as expected, May may be a “month of transition” to a “progressive resumption of social and economic life”.
Speaking to journalists at the end of yet another technical press briefing on the evolution of COVID-19’s epidemiological situation in Portugal, at Infarmed, in Lisbon, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa confirmed that “everything is on track” for a renewal of the state of emergency at the end of this week.
According to the President of the Republic, the data recorded up to this stage of the month of April allow us “to look at May” as “an already different month, which is already a month of progressive transition”.
“If April runs as we hope, then in May the Portuguese will start to get used to the idea of ??socializing with the reality of a virus that was overcome in what represented a serious risk, or, even in the beginning, very serious , for Portuguese society, and becomes a fact of everyday life”, said the head of state.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa added that, “naturally, it is a transition that, in Portugal, as in other European countries, will have to be done with caution, with the same attitudes that the Portuguese have had, of seriousness, of health protection, of distance in the coexistence with others, but with a progressive resumption of social and economic life”.
Currently around 80% of Portuguese companies have reported a sharp drop in their revenues, at times this drop exceeding 75%, as authorities tightened lockdowns, a survey showed on Tuesday.
Around 78% of businesses blamed the revenue free-fall on restrictions implemented by Portugal’s Socialist government as part of a state of emergency to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The emergency was initially declared on March 18th but is set to be extended until May 1st.
The accommodation and restaurant sector suffered the hardest blows, a survey released by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) and the Bank of Portugal revealed, with businesses in the industry frequently reporting revenue declines of more than 75% during the second week of April.
The data showed 55.1% of the companies in the accommodation and food sector – mostly driven by the tourism industry – shut temporarily, while 7.2% closed doors permanently.
Portugal attracts millions of foreign visitors annually, and the tourism sector, accounting for nearly 15% of gross domestic product, helped it to recover from the 2010-14 debt crisis.
Last week, hotel association AHP said the hotel industry could lose 80%-90% of its revenues, or up to 1.4 billion euros ($1.54 billion) between March and June if the novel coronavirus continues to spread.
But other industries are feeling the impact of the coronavirus too, with transport and commerce sectors also badly hit, INE said.
INE said more than half of the 4,793 surveyed firms said the coronavirus pandemic had a negative effect on the amount of people they can employ.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they have already applied for the so-called “simplified” lay-off measure, which allows companies to temporarily suspend jobs or reduce working hours but does not let them fire or make workers redundant.