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Portugal tightens restrictions despite COVID vaccine success

Nightclubs, hospitals, nursing homes and sports venues also must require negative virus tests from visitors and patrons, including vaccinated ones.

Published: 01st December 2021 08:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st December 2021 08:01 PM   |  A+A-

A woman pulls a suitcase at Lisbon's international airport.

A woman pulls a suitcase at Lisbon's international airport. (Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

LISBON: Portugal tightened passenger entry requirements and mandated masks indoors to curb an upward trend in coronavirus infections as the country with one of the strongest vaccination records in Europe entered a state of calamity Wednesday.

The crisis declaration, Portugal's second this year, is one step below a state of emergency and gives the government the legal authority to impose stricter measures without parliamentary approval.

Masks now are required in enclosed public spaces, and individuals must show proof of vaccination, having recovered from COVID-19 or a negative virus test to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and hotels.

Nightclubs, hospitals, nursing homes and sports venues also must require negative virus tests from visitors and patrons, including vaccinated ones.

"With the test, we feel more comfortable. We don't leave the club thinking, Do I have COVID or not?'" Sara Lopes, a 21-year-old shop worker, said as she lined up at a central Lisbon nightclub as the new requirements took effect at midnight.

"It's a bit of a hassle to have to make appointment after appointment at the pharmacy, but it's fine," Lopes said.

Under the new rules, most arriving passengers must show negative test results at Portugal's airports, seaports and land borders.

Experts believe that Portugal's vaccination rate, which at 87 per cent of over 10 million residents is one of the highest globally, has shielded the country from the infection spikes recently experienced by some other European countries.

Still, the number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients has been rising since September.

Portuguese authorities on Tuesday recorded 2,907 new cases and 15 deaths.

Authorities in Portugal have confirmed an outbreak of the new coronavirus variant, omicron, among members of a professional soccer club and a medical worker who had contact with them.



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