COVID-19: Portugal prolongs lockdown for two more weeks

The Portuguese face at least another two weeks in lockdown after the government decided Wednesday to extend confinement measures as deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic near 200.

The restrictions were first imposed on the 10-million population on March 19 but they have not been as extensive as in neighbouring Spain where more than 9,000 have died from the virus.

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Lisbon has ordered people to stay at home unless they have to work and to go out only for exercise, within the local area, to buy groceries, help relatives or walk the dog.

Shops and restaurants have been closed but supermarkets and chemists remain open.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced the extension to the state of emergency, which can be decreed only for periods of two weeks, and which parliament is expected to approve on Thursday.

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Costa praised his compatriots’ “exemplary” response to the crisis saying, “the effort … is bearing results”.

A total of 84 people have been stopped by police for being outside without a valid reason and 1,600 establishments have been closed after failing to ensure new client safety regulations.

TAP Air Portugal has cancelled all flights until at least May 4, except to the Atlantic islands of Azores and Madeira, and announced 90 percent of its 11,000 employees would go part-time under a government aid scheme.

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