Instead of a return in the direction of a new normality we had all wished for at New Year, restrictions throughout mainland Portugal and the Azores have been tightened in response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
The mantra for the rest of this month is “stay at home.”
Acceptable reasons for leaving home include going to essential workplaces, medical facilities such a hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, schools or shops selling food.
The restrictions are not expected to hinder the vaccination programme. Banks and petrol stations will remain open. So will all educational establishments.
Places closed include: cafes, restaurants except those selling takeaways, non-food shops, hairdressing saloons and gyms. Facemasks, social distancing and avoiding large groups remain mandatory.
The number of Covid infections and deaths have accelerated to record levels since Christmas.
The new measures will be reviewed and may be lightened after Saturday 30th January.
Fines to be imposed on those breaking the current full lockdown rules have doubled.
A special dispensation will be allowed on 24th January for those voting in the presidential election.The voter turnout is likely to be low. The current president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, is expected to win a second term.
The impact of the new tight restrictions will cause financial hardship to many business owners and employees. Those in the Algarve are particularly angry, some protesting publicly and saying that the Algarve should not be in lockdown to the same degree as the areas elsewhere in the country where the virus infection and death rates have been higher.
All direct flights between Portugal and the UK have been stopped. The UK has banned arrivals from Portugal as well as most South American countries to help control the spread of a new strain of the virus. Portugal has been singled out in Europe because of its close travel links with Brazil.
UK and Irish citizens, as well as third country nationals with UK residency rights, may still enter the UK, but will have to quarantine after arrival.