Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday that the country may be facing “one, two, three months” of restrictions on movement of people, as the number those who have died from the coronavirus nears 200.
A total of 3,600 companies have applied for government support to pay a proportion of salaries for 76,000 workers whose jobs have been temporarily suspended as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the prime minister said.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is expected to decide later on Wednesday whether to extend a state of emergency, declared on March 18, which restricted non-essential travel and led thousands of businesses to close their doors.
Costa said this week he expected the president to extend the state of emergency, as health authorities predict the number of cases in the country, where infections and death toll are way below those in neighboring Spain, will plateau at the end of May.
So far, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 8,251, with 187 having died.
“We don’t know whether this will last one, two, or three months and this is obviously scary for everyone,” Costa told SIC television channel on Wednesday.
With Easter weekend approaching, he reminded the Portuguese that “families cannot go home to visit their families. .. this year, we must tell emigrants not to come – and if they do, not to leave their homes”.
Tens of thousands of Portuguese living in countries such as France, Luxembourg and Switzerland come to spend Easter and summer holidays in Portugal every year.