Portugal’s government on Thursday announced that it would reintroduce nighttime curfews in municipalities where the coronavirus case rate has risen fastest, in another sign that the country is struggling to cope with the spread of the Delta variant.
In the past 14 days, the average number of daily cases in the country has nearly doubled to over 1,600, according to a New York Times database, though they remain far below their January peak of over 12,000 per day. Over 55 percent of the population has gotten at least one Covid vaccine dose, compared to about 54 percent in the United States, according to Our World In Data.
The curfews are designed to discourage “risky behaviors” and particularly gatherings of younger people at night, said Mariana Vieira da Silva, the cabinet minister who presented the measures on Thursday. “This is a time to follow the rules, avoid gatherings, avoid parties, and seek to contain the numbers,” she added.
The curfew will come into force at 11 p.m. on Friday and will apply in 19 municipalities that are now ranked as having a “very elevated risk” of Covid-19, and a further 26 with an “elevated risk.” Portugal reported almost 2,500 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, which was the highest daily rise since February.
Among the 45 municipalities that will have a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. are Lisbon, the capital, Porto, the second-largest city, and Albufeira, a tourism hub in the southern region of Algarve. Two weeks ago, authorities locked down Lisbon for the weekend after the country registered its highest number of new cases since March, with residents prohibited from traveling outside their home area.