In the hearings of these two days in Belém, the new rules for the renewal of the state of emergency and the parties’ criticisms of the restrictions imposed by the Government – this and next weekend – the conversations with the President of the Republic dominated. The holding of the PCP Congress was another topic of conversations (at least from the right) with Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. According to Expresso, the Head of State understood the concerns expressed by PSD and CDS, although Jerónimo de Sousa promises an exemplary event. Marcelo, who had already spoken in public about the problem of “perception” that the congress could cause, signaled that it would be difficult to explain to the Portuguese that, just a week after a curfew was in force across the country, it could take place a party conclave with hundreds of people in Loures.
The President fears, according to reports from the meetings to Expresso, that there will again be a widespread idea that communists benefit from an exception regime and that this will make it difficult to transmit the Government’s message and that there will be greater resistance from the population to accept more muscular measures. .
Marcelo will also have recognized the impact of curfew after 1 pm in municipalities with high risk of infection by the new coronavirus, and has been uncovering clues about what the new measures of the state of emergency may be for the next 15 days. One of them confirms what António Costa had already expressed: the Government’s intention to divide the municipalities by risk of incidence of covid-19 with specific measures. As the parliamentary leader of the Greens (ENP), José Luís Ferreira, revealed, leaving Belém, the Executive is considering dividing the country’s municipalities into three levels of covid-19 risk.
The solution being evaluated involves the definition of three levels:
- minimum step, for municipalities between 240 and 480 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants in the last 14 days;
- middle bracket for municipalities between 480 cases and 960 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants in the last 14 days;
- maximum step for municipalities with more than 960 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants in the last 14 days.
Proportional measures in the municipalities
In practical terms, this means that counties that are at the lowest level the least restrictive measures, which include limitation of circulation between 11 pm to 5 am on all days of the week.
But also the possibility of temperature measurement and diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2, for access to the workplace, health centers, hospitals or other institutions and the mobilization of Public Administration workers to carry out epidemiological surveys and track contacts, among other measures provided for in the state of emergency.
I o Intermediate level cover more restrictive measures for these municipalities such as the closure of the largest commercial areas, in order to curb the risk of contagion, according to party sources heard by Expresso.
Mandatory curfew from lunch at the highest level
No maximum step – attributed to municipalities with more than 960 cases of infections per 100 thousand inhabitants – would also be mandatory curfew is foreseen from the lunch period until 5 am on the weekend, in addition to all the measures provided for in the previous levels. At the moment there are 20 such municipalities, mainly in the North region.
In view of the strong economic impact of the curfew for restoration, the Executive is evaluating the possibility of extending the period of operation of restaurants to the weekend in the municipalities of the maximum step, for 15h or 16h. The scenario was put forward by PAN spokesman André Silva, who explained that the goal was for restaurants to still be able to serve lunches before curfew. But it is still not certain, in these high-risk counties, restaurants may even be forced to close at 1 pm.
Higher Education may bet on distance learning
The Executive is also analyzing the possibility of closing Universities and Polytechnic Institutes in the municipalities of all levels, as the number of contagions among young people in their 20s is increasing, as well as hospitalizations. Meetings outside the university environment also favor more infections, but with the suspension of face-to-face classes, the expectation is that contagions can be stopped.
The fact that distance learning is also more practical in Higher Education also leads the Government to consider this hypothesis and refuse to close primary and secondary schools.
Before the Christmas holidays, the measures for this season, starting in the first days of December, should also be known, since further restrictions may be announced for the holidays of 1 and 8 December, similarly to what happened at Easter and the holiday of All Saints.
Until then, the Government wants to analyze the evolution of the pandemic and the impact of new state of emergency, which is due to come into effect at 12:00 am next Monday and finish on December 8th. But one thing is certain: Christmas will not be the same as in previous years. Both the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister have already warned that it is necessary to find alternative ways to celebrate this season with smaller groups.
Meeting at Infarmed this Thursday
The evolution of the pandemic and the framework of the measures to be adopted in the new state of emergency will be discussed this Thursday, at 10 am, at a new meeting at Infarmed, in Lisbon, which will bring together experts, parties, the Prime Minister and the Head of State.
But this does not mean returning to regular meetings with experts. The Government has already explained that they should occur whenever it considers it necessary. In response to criticism from the parties, the deputy general secretary of the PS, José Luís Carneiro, admitted this Wednesday that the decisions taken by the Government in the scope of the state of emergency must be supported by scientific evidence, thus justifying the meeting with the experts.
“As for the different levels [de risco de contágio em concelhos] which will be established, the Government is in dialogue with research institutions and tomorrow there will be a continuation of this effort to listen to scientific entities. As a result, we will have to wait for the decision that the Government will take “, said José Luís Carneiro.
However, Parliament has already scheduled for Friday at 9 am the discussion and vote on the extension of the state of emergency, and then it is up to the Council of Ministers to decide in the afternoon the framework of the measures to be adopted.
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