Portugal extends coronavirus lockdown

An employee of a funeral home f wearing protective suits and a priest wearing a protective mask pay respect during a funeral ceremony of a man who died in his home, as a victim of covid-19, at Benfica cemetery in Lisbon, Portugal. EPA-EFE/MIGUEL A. LOPES

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Portugal extended its national coronavirus lockdown for a further 15 days on Thursday and promised to make protective gear widely available and to gradually reopen businesses if the spread of the disease continues to slow.

As the country flattened its curve of new cases – now at 18,841 with 629 deaths, a fraction of those in neighbouring Spain – the new presidential decree approved by parliament allowed for a gradual reopening of some services and companies.

It did not specify which ones or when, saying this would depend on data continuing to show a slowdown in the spread of the new coronavirus.

Initially declared by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on March 18, the national lockdown restricted the movement of people and led thousands of businesses to suspend activities, especially in the restaurant and hotel sector.

Costa said remote working should continue in the next month to contain the spread of the disease but said public services should be “re-established” and that he hoped childcare centres could reopen.

Costa also said the government had approved plans to ensure masks and hand gel were available en masse in the coming fortnight. “It is fundamental to give the Portuguese the confidence to leave their homes and for this we must make means of protection abundant,” he said.

Read more via Reuters

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