Portugal keeps parts of Lisbon under coronavirus lockdown

FILE PHOTO: A tourist wearing a mask sits at Caes de Sodre, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lisbon, Portugal July 13, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

Portugal’s government said on Monday five areas on the outskirts of Lisbon will remain under a partial lockdown put in place two weeks ago to tackle a worrying wave of coronavirus cases. 

People living in 19 civil parishes of Greater Lisbon are allowed to leave home only to buy essential goods such as food or medication, or to travel to and from work. 

“Although the coronavirus incidence rate has improved in these 15 days, it has not yet reached a stage where we would reevaluate measures,” Cabinet Affairs Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva told a news conference. 

Gatherings in the locked-down parishes, which do not include the capital’s downtown, are limited to five people compared to 10 elsewhere in Greater Lisbon and 20 for the rest of Portugal.

Coronavirus cases on the city’s outskirts continued to rise in the first 10 days of the partial lockdown but have fallen in the last three days, according to health authority DGS, with 83% of Monday’s 306 new cases concentrated in and around Lisbon. 

Portugal has reported a total 46,818 cases and 1,549 deaths from the coronavirus, much lower than many other European countries including neighbouring Spain. 

But localised outbreaks in poorer neighbourhoods and industrial hubs have kept cases increasing at a steady daily rate in the hundreds.

That toll is hurting the tourism-dependent economy, with over a dozen countries imposing restrictions on travel from Portugal. Earlier this month, it was left off a list of more than 50 countries that Britain considers safe enough for travel without coronavirus-related restrictions.