Portugal declares coronavirus health emergency

A woman speaks with the driver of a tram in downtown Lisbon, Oct 31, 2020.
A woman speaks with the driver of a tram in downtown Lisbon, Oct 31, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

LISBON (AFP) - Portugal's president on Friday (Nov 6) declared a state of health emergency that will come into force next week to allow the government to impose further coronavirus restrictions.

In a televised appearance, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said he had just signed a decree "relating to a second state of emergency" since the start of the pandemic that will last at least two weeks.

It will be "very limited and largely preventative" but "paves the way for new measures such as restricting traffic to certain times and certain days, in highest risk municipalities," he said.

The government will hold an extraordinary Cabinet meeting on Saturday to decide what type of measures to introduce.

These could include a nighttime curfew similar to what has been implemented in other European nations, or taking people's temperature at some locations.

During the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, Portuguese authorities decreed a six-week state of emergency.

Some 7.1 million people are currently living under new restrictions and have been asked to stay home and work remotely as far as possible.

But unlike the first spring lockdown, schools remain open, along with shops and restaurants, though they have to close earlier.

Since the start of the pandemic, Portugal has reported close to 167,000 cases and more than 2,700 deaths.