In yet another measure to contain the surge in coronavirus infections, the Parliament of Portugal approved on Friday (23) the mandatory use of outdoor masks.
The measure is valid for 70 days and is valid for people over the age of ten, whenever it is not possible to maintain physical distance. Those who break the rules are subject to fines between 100 euros and 500 euros (from R $ 664 to R $ 3,322).
Until now, the use of facial protection was mandatory in commercial establishments, closed spaces and public transport. The text originally proposed by the government ended up being left out due to controversy on another point: in addition to wearing masks on the street, there would also be an obligation to install the official contact tracking app for infected people, StayAway Covid.
Amid controversies about privacy and data sharing, the proposal was severely criticized by lawyers, health experts and deputies from the government base, who ended up disembarking from the idea. It remained, then, to approve the alternative text of the opposition party.
Although the mandatory masking was supported by most of the deputies, criticism remained of the work of the government of António Costa in managing this recurrence of the pandemic in Portugal.
Some parliamentarians also questioned the lack of clarity in the text, which determines the use of masks in situations in which distance is not possible, but does not establish a clear limit for the minimum necessary distance. “It is necessary that the law enforcement criteria are clearly defined”, asked the parliamentary leader of the PCP, deputy João Oliveira.
In the past two weeks, the number of new SARS-CoV-2 infections has skyrocketed in Portugal, as well as in many European countries. This Thursday (22), the country surpassed the mark of 3,000 new cases in a single day for the first time, with 3,270 positive tests throughout the territory.
Experts are already working with a scenario of up to 6,000 new infections daily in November.
Meanwhile, the country’s health system is showing signs of tension. More patients are already hospitalized now than in the first months of the pandemic. In the metropolitan region of the capital, more than 80% of vacancies for patients with Covid-19 in hospital wards are occupied.
Thus, the country’s two major cities, Lisbon and Porto, will reopen field hospitals.
The use of outdoor masks joins other imposed restrictions. On Thursday, the Council of Ministers placed three cities in the north of the country – Felgueiras, Lousada and Paços de Ferreira – in partial confinement, with exits authorized only for work, studies, health issues and a few other exceptions.
To avoid trips on the weekend of All Saints’ Day (11/11), a traditional religious date in the country, citizens were prohibited from leaving their cities between October 30 and November 3.
Last week, the government had already limited meetings to a maximum of 5 people, in addition to throwing parties and commercial establishments. So far, according to data from the DGS (Directorate-General for Health), a total of 112,440 cases and 2,276 deaths from Covid-19 have been confirmed.
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