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Portugal to ease COVID-19 rules for Christmas, but not New Year - Metro US

Portugal to ease COVID-19 rules for Christmas, but not New Year

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask crosses the road near a tram during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Lisbon

LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal will ease coronavirus rules over the Christmas period to allow people to visit loved ones, but measures will be reimposed a few days later to crack down on New Year’s Eve parties, the government said on Saturday.

While a ban on domestic travel will not be imposed between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26, Prime Minister Antonio Costa urged people to avoid spending too long in large festive gatherings without wearing a face mask.

“It’s essential that this Christmas is a time of sharing but that in this sharing there is no involuntary transmission of the virus,” Costa told reporters as he announced the measures.

There is no limit on how many people can gather per household for Christmas and the night-time curfew will be pushed back from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.

“Today families have enough information to know family gatherings are moments of risk,” Costa said. “We must trust the Portuguese people.”

For New Year’s Eve, street parties will be banned and outdoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of six people.

People will still be allowed to meet at each other’s houses as long as they stay in their own municipalities and return home before the 2 a.m. curfew.

After a relatively mild first wave of the disease compared with countries such as Spain or Italy, Portugal has seen a record number of infections and deaths during the second wave though the daily tally has dropped slightly in recent days.

Portugal, which has a population of just over 10 million, has recorded 318,640 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,876 deaths.

(Additional reporting by Miguel Pereira and Pedro Nunes; Editing by Gareth Jones and Helen Popper)

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