Portuguese PM Costa says virus restrictions could last months, as exponential increase in cases continues
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday that the country may be facing “one, two, three months” of restrictions on movement of people, as the number of those who have died from COVID-19 climbs over two hundred today, reaching 209, with approximately 9034 cases throughout the country so far.
A total of 3,600 companies have applied for government support to pay a proportion of salaries for 76,000 workers whose jobs have been temporarily suspended as a result of the virus-motivated crisis, the prime minister said.
Furthermore, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa decided yesterday to extend the current state of emergency, initially declared on March 18, which restricted non-essential travel and led thousands of businesses to close their doors.
Costa said this week he had really expected the president to extend the state of emergency, as health authorities predict the number of cases in the country, where infections and death toll are way below those in neighbouring Spain, will plateau at the end of May.
“We don’t know whether this will last one, two, or three months and this is obviously scary for everyone,” Costa told the SIC television channel on Wednesday.
With Easter weekend approaching, he reminded the Portuguese that “families cannot go home to visit their families. … this year, we must tell emigrants not to come – and if they do, not to leave their homes”.
Tens of thousands of Portuguese living in countries such as France, Luxembourg and Switzerland traditionally return home to spend Easter and summer holidays in Portugal every year.