The country with the highest Covid vaccination rate in the world is about to shed almost all of its restrictions.
In matter of months, Portugal has gone from having the world’s highest number of Covid cases proportionate to its population, to re-emerging from the pandemic on October 1 with just a few lingering rules.
In January ambulances queued outside Lisbon hospitals while the health services struggled to cope with the influx of infections — in one week 86,000 new cases and almost 2000 deaths — but in just a few days the majority of restrictions imposed on the country will be gone.
The turnaround is all thanks to Portugal’s astonishingly high vaccination rates.
The nation went from vaccinating only 7000 citizens a day in January, to three months later 44,000 daily injections in April, and 150,000 doses per day at its vaccination peak on July 12.
Portugal now boasts a vaccination rate of 83.4 per cent of its population — that’s 8.5 million people double-jabbed.
In just a few days, nightclubs and bars will be allowed to reopen to those with a digital vaccination certificate or negative Covid-19 test, after having been shut since March 2020.
Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonino Costa said last week that once the October reopening is under way, there will only be a handful of restrictions in place.
“As most of the restrictions imposed by law disappear, we are going to enter a phase that is based on the responsibility of everyone,” he said.
“We must not forget that the pandemic is not over.”
Among the few measures that remain in place, mask-wearing is compulsory in public transport, at large events, in nursing homes, hospitals, shopping malls and hypermarkets. Masks ceased being compulsory outdoors last week.
From October 1, there will be no restrictions on the number of people allowed to sit together in restaurants and cafes, or to attend cultural events, weddings and baptisms.
During the pandemic the country reported at least 1,064,876 cases and more than 17,938 deaths.
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