World Portugal to ban domestic travel, close schools around national holidays

21:41  21 november  2020
21:41  21 november  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal is to ban domestic travel and close schools around two upcoming holidays in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus ahead of Christmas, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Saturday.

a group of people walking down a street next to a train: FILE PHOTO: Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lisbon © Reuters/RAFAEL MARCHANTE FILE PHOTO: Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lisbon

Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 p.m. on Nov. 27 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 2, and then again from 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 9, to prevent movement around national holidays on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8.

Schools will close on the Mondays before both holidays, while businesses must close early. Employers are being encouraged to give workers the day off in order to minimise travel activity.

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"We continue to have a very high number of cases which is a threat to our health," Costa told a press conference. "We must persist to not only halt that growth rate but invert it."

Masks, already mandatory in public and enclosed commercial spaces, are now also mandatory in the workplace, Costa said. Checks will increase to ensure that those who can are working remotely.

A night-time curfew and weekend lockdown after 1 p.m. in 191 municipalities since Nov. 9 will continue in 174 municipalities with particularly high infection rates for a further two weeks.

Portugal reported 62 deaths and 6,472 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, mostly in the north of the country, bringing the total infections to 255,970 cases, with 3,824 deaths.

The number of cases has increased significantly since late September, with average daily rates rising from around 300 in the summer to 6,000 in recent weeks despite testing only increasing approximately three-fold, health ministry data shows.

The country, with around 10 million people, ranks third in Europe for the number of cumulative deaths per 100,000 people and seventh in the number of new cases, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control figures.

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Mike Harrison)

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usr: 1
This is interesting!