LISBON, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced on Thursday that his country will enter a "state of calamity" as of May 3 after the "state of emergency" ends on May 2.
"The Council of Ministers today approved the transition from the state of emergency to the state of calamity," Costa told the press.
"STATE OF CALAMITY"
"There is no reason to renew the state of emergency, but that does not mean that the risk has been overcome. We have to maintain a high level of security," Costa said.
"The government understood that it was time to go down a step, moving to a state of calamity," he said.
The 15-day state of emergency, which was first declared on March 18 and renewed twice on April 2 and April 16, will end at 23:59 local time on May 2.
This is an advance in the reactivation of the country's economy and the beginning of the gradual easing of social isolation measures aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the Portuguese Constitution, a state of emergency, which is the highest of three emergency levels, should be proposed by the president with a favorable opinion from the government and approved by the Parliament under exceptional circumstances.
The other two levels are "state of calamity" and "state of alert," which are under the authority of the government in accordance with the Basic Law on Civil Protection.
In the last 24 hours, a further 540 cases of COVID-19 infection have been reported in Portugal, raising the total confirmed cases to 25,045. The number of fatalities increased to 989, with another 16 deaths registered by the Directorate-General for Health.
The number of recovered patients is now 1,519, 49 more than the day before, and there are still 3,794 cases awaiting laboratory results.
REOPENING IN THREE PHASES
The prime minister announced that Portugal will start to reopen its economy and society in three phases, starting on May 4.
During the first phase, staring on May 4, commercial establishments up to 200 square meters will be reopened. These include small street vendors, such as bookstores, clothing stores, hairdressers, barbershops, shoe stores and car shops.
Public services will also be reopened except for "citizen shops," which offer various public services under one roof and where people congregate.
During the second phase, which is scheduled to start on May 18, the Portuguese government plans to reopen stores up to 400 square meters, cafes and restaurants included.
Finally, from June 1, the rest of the stores and shopping centers in Portugal will be reopened. The reopening will take place with half the capacity and the social distancing rule will continue to apply. Enditem