Monday. 27.05.2024

The Portuguese government on Thursday suspended plans to ease some of its health regulations for large parts of the country as case numbers of the new Delta variant reach worrying levels.

"We are in a critical phase," Presidential Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said. The regulations were set to be relaxed on Monday.

However, Portugal recorded 1,556 new cases within the past 24 hours on Thursday, the highest level since February, according to the Health Ministry.

The Lisbon metropolitan area is particularly badly affected, as are Sesimbra and Albufeira, where the 14-day incidence rate, the number of cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period, is above 240.

Instead of easing, restrictions are being tightened again in these areas, with restaurants and shops to close at 3:30 pm on weekends and public holidays, for example.

Lisbon sealed off again

Lisbon - where the Delta variant makes up more than 70% of cases - is to be sealed off again from Friday afternoon until Monday morning to prevent cases from spreading.

The same measure applied last weekend, but this time, the area's 2.8 million residents will be allowed to leave if they have a valid reason - or if they are completely vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 or test negative for the virus.

Portugal cancels easing as Delta variant case numbers rise