Portugal to reopen nurseries, primary schools on Monday

Lisbon, March 12 (AFP/APP): Portugal will reopen nurseries and primary schools on Monday as part of a phased plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions, the prime minister said. Re-openings “must be gradual, cautious”, said Prime Minister Antonio Costa as he spoke of the plans on Thursday to ease the lockdown in place since mid-January.

Portugal suffered the worst rate of coronavirus infections in the world in January apart from microstates, but has since seen a sharp drop in the number of new cases. Some businesses considered non-essential such as bookstores and hair salons will also reopen Monday as will libraries.

Secondary schools, outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants and monuments and museums will follow two weeks later. High schools, universities, theatres and indoor dining limited to four people per table will reopen in mid-April. Large events with certain restrictions will be permitted from May 3. “Today we are clearly under the alert threshold,” Costa said, stressing however that the plan would be “re-evaluated every 15 days.”

Other aspects such as home working and limitations on travel between cities will remain in place for now. The arrival of the more contagious British variant of the virus helped bring about the surge in cases in January in the country of 10 million people. It had led to numerous hospitals being overwhelmed, particularly in the Lisbon region.

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