Portugal: No restrictions on food retailers’ opening hours in new lockdown

Grocery stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets will remain open during the new lockdown in force from midnight on Thursday, this time with no restrictions on their opening hours, with Portugal’s prime minister stressing that there is “no reason” for people to rush to these establishments to stock up.

“There is no reason for people to run to the supermarkets or hypermarkets because everything will remain in place,” Costa said at a briefing on Wednesday evening to outline details of the lockdown. As in March and April last year it was possible to ensure “that nothing essential would be missing from the shelves, so it will continue to be the case.”

In addition, in this new lockdown these retailers will operate without restrictions on their opening hours, he stressed.

Grocery stores and supermarkets will continue to have a maximum capacity of five people per 100 square metres.

Costa spoke at a news conference after a cabinet meeting approved the lockdown measures under a new state of emergency, decreed earlier by the president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, following parliamentary approval.

Pharmacies, bakeries and other essential retail activities and services may also remain open to the public, under the new rules.

Other retailers and services are to close “as well as … a wide range of facilities and establishments, including cultural and leisure activities, sporting activities (with the exception of individual outdoor sports and training and competitive activities) and spas”, reads a government statement.

Restaurants will once again have to close their doors to the public and only operate on a takeaway or home delivery basis.

In this lockdown, outdoor fairs and street markets will be allowed to operate, but only to sell food.

At the news conference, Costa stressed that the country is experiencing a moment that is both “the most dangerous” and also one of greatest hope, because “the same hope” that the vaccine offers in potentially overcoming the pandemic is also the one that may encourage people to faily to observe the rules that allow infections to be contained.

Action needed to be taken given the current rate of deaths associated with Covid-19 of “more than a hundred deaths a day,” the prime minister said. “It is not acceptable and we have to stop it.”