Portugal plans to resume mandatory use of masks to prevent a new Covid-19 outbreak | World

The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, defended on Tuesday (19) at night the return of the mandatory use of the mask in open spaces. “It seems obvious,” he told journalists during an event in Lisbon.

The measure, introduced in October 2020, was suspended on September 13th. The use of a mask is still recommended in case of a meeting or when it is impossible to respect social distance.

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Europe is the only region in the world where Covid deaths are on the rise

Europe is the only region in the world where Covid deaths are on the rise

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa also suggested on Tuesday that the country could reinstate some restrictive measures due to the increase in cases in Europe, in particular with the approach of the holiday season.

As well as the number of new daily infections, which peaked at 1,816 on Saturday, hospitalizations have also increased in the country. On Tuesday, Portugal had 486 people hospitalized for Covid-19, including 80 in ICUs.

“We have to act now (…) The later, the more risks”, warned Costa, while ruling out the possibility of re-imposing the state of emergency, which remained in force for nearly six months, between November 2020 and April 2021.

Woman wearing mask seen on street in Lisbon, Portugal, June 24 photo — Photo: Reuters/Pedro Nunes

This exceptional regime allowed the adoption of measures to restrict certain freedoms, such as the confinement imposed at the beginning of the year, when the country was among the most affected by the pandemic.

“Portugal is still a long way from what happens in other parts of Europe,” said the prime minister, before adding, however, that he is closely following the evolution of the situation in the rest of the continent.

The government will take decisions after a meeting with experts, scheduled for Friday.

Health professional receives vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech on the first day of immunization against Covid-19 in Portugal, at Hospital São João, in the city of Porto, on December 27, 2020 — Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

Authorities continue to encourage people over 65 to receive a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Just over 86% of the population is fully vaccinated.

With 10 million inhabitants, Portugal has registered more than 1.1 million cases and 18,274 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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