LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal began the first day of a new lockdown on Friday with businesses closed and most people confined to their homes, although parents were able to take their children to school.
Schools will remain open this time around, but some parents were nervous about the decision, which Prime Minister Antonio Costa said was based on studies showing that schools were not a major point of contagion.
“There’s nothing we can do about it. I live far away and I have to work … if the government says we have to do it, then we have to do it,” said Pedro Salgueiro as he dropped his child off at school in Lisbon.
Portugal reported a record 159 COVID-19 deaths on Friday and cases reached their second-highest level since the start of the pandemic at 10,663.
The country has reported a total of 528,469 cases and 8,543 deaths since the start of the pandemic and the Health Ministry is monitoring more than 140,000 active cases – more than 1% of its 10 million population.
All non-essential businesses must remain closed with remote working compulsory where possible. Fines for breaking the rules will double.
Restrictions on movement will be eased on Jan. 24 so voters can go to the polls for the presidential election.
Under Portuguese law, regulations must be reviewed every 15 days but Costa said on Wednesday these rules would likely last a month.
(By Patrícia Rua, Miguel Pereira, Victoria Waldersee; Edited by Andrei Khalip and Janet Lawrence)