Portugal unveils gradual lockdown exit plan

COVID-19, coronavirus
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient, emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

Portugal's government on Thursday unveiled a plan for a gradual exit from coronavirus lockdown, starting on Monday with the opening of some shops and businesses.

Some small shops will be allowed to reopen as will hair salons and car dealers and further restrictions will be lifted during May.

"We can start taking steps towards deconfinement," said Prime Minister Antonio Costa as he shed light on the "transition plan" his cabinet has drawn up.

Portugal, which declared its first cases several weeks after neighbouring Spain—one of Europe's worst hit countries—declared a on March 19 and has to date recorded 1,000 deaths and some 25,000 cases.

From Saturday it will ramp that down a notch although residents will only be allowed to travel beyond their immediate home area over the May Day long weekend if their jobs are listed as essential.

May milestones along Portugal's road back to normality are the reopening of senior schools only on May 18—after they are first disinfected.

Long-distance learning will remain the norm for primary and through to the end of the year.

Museums, bars, restaurants and art galleries will also open their doors once more from May 18.

But those who can will be expected to work from home throughout May.

Football league action is slated to resume the final weekend of the month.

Large shopping centres will only be allowed to reopen from June 1, however, when creches will also reopen.

© 2020 AFP

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