Portugal expands curfew, weekend lockdown

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Portugal will expand a nightly curfew and weekend lockdown already in place across more than 100 municipalities to a further 77 areas as it scrambles to contain coronavirus spread.

"The situation is serious and more critical than what we experienced in the first wave of the pandemic," Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference on Thursday.

Residents of affected areas are asked to not leave the house except for work, school or shopping during the week and must stay home between 11 pm and 5 am.

At weekends, a lockdown is in place from 1 pm to 5 am, during which all commercial outlets and restaurants must shut, although there are exceptions for bakeries, pharmacies and neighbourhood grocery shops.

Restaurants will be able to apply for compensation of 20 per cent of average revenues to make up for income lost over the next two weekends, Costa announced, after workers in areas where the lockdown was already in place protested it was killing the sector.

AHRESP, an association representing the hotel and restaurant sector, said 49,000 businesses were wiped out between July and September.

Any municipality with more than 240 new cases per 100,000 people in the space of two weeks must follow the new rules.

Seven were removed in the past week as their infection rate fell below the threshold.

A nationwide state of emergency that came into force on Monday and is due to last until November 23 could also be extended if necessary.

Portugal, with just over 10 million people, has recorded a comparatively low 191,011 cases and 3181 deaths.

However last Saturday the number of daily infections hit 6640, the highest figure since the pandemic started, albeit with an expanded testing program.

"The least we owe healthcare professionals is to make an additional effort," Costa said.

"The rule is simple: we have to stay at home."