Portugal announces post-Christmas Covid curbs in light of Omicron threat
Portugal has one of the highest rate of vaccinations in Europe. It is currently witnessing a surge in Covid cases caused by Omicron variant
Portugal on Tuesday imposed Covid curbs which will come in effect on December 25. The restrictions have been placed in light of surging Covid cases caused by Omicron variant. Nightclubs and bars have been ordered to closen and people have been told to work from home for two weeks at least, starting December 25.
"This still isn't the normal Christmas we are used to," Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference. "If we don't adopt preventively the necessary measures the consequences in everyone's lives will be much bigger after Christmas and New Year."
The prime minister made announcement of capacity restrictions at stores as well. He further said that negative Covid test will be needed to be required to go to event and to stay at hotels.
Authorities will also limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people per group on New Year's Eve, when a negative test will be needed to enter restaurants, casinos or attend parties in public spaces, Costa said.
Most of these measures were meant to come into force in January but current situation has forced their implementation ahead of time.
Portugal, which has one of the world's highest rates of vaccination against COVID-19 with around 87% of its 10 million population fully inoculated, is facing a surge in infections along with the rest of Europe, in part due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
Close to 50% of new coronavirus cases in Portugal are from the Omicron variant, the national health institute said in a report on Tuesday.
The country reported 5,754 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, returning to levels last seen in February, when it faced its toughest battle against the illness, but deaths and hospitalisations remain low compared to that period.
Health Minister Marta Temido said last week Omicron infections were doubling every two days and could account for 80% of all new cases by the end of the month.
(With inputs from agencies)