LISBON, Nov 25, Reuters -- Portugal, which has one of the world's highest rates of vaccination against COVID- 19, has announced that it will impose restrictions on passengers flying into the country to show a negative test certificate on arrival.
It doesn't matter how successful the vaccination was, but we must be aware that we are entering a phase of greater risk, Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference on Thursday.
He said that there has been significant growth in cases in the EU and Portugal is not an island.
Portugal reported 3,773 new cases on Wednesday, the highest daily figure in four months, before dropping to 3,150 on Thursday. Deaths in January, however, remain far below levels seen in January, when the country faced its toughest battle against COVID-19.
Around 87% of Portugal's population of just over 10 million is fully inoculated against the coronavirus and the country's speedy vaccination campaign has been widely praised. It has been able to lift most of its pandemic restrictions because of that.
As a wave of the pandemic sweeps across Europe, the government reintroduced some old rules and announced new ones to limit the spread in the run-up to the holiday season. The measures will go into effect next Wednesday, December 1.
According to Costa, airlines will have to pay 20,000 euros $22,416 per passenger if they transport anyone who does not carry proof of a COVID- 19 test, including those who are fully vaccinated.
Passengers can take PCR or a rapid antigen test, either 72 hours or 48 hours before departure.
Costa also announced that those fully vaccinated must show proof of a negative coronavirus test to enter nightclubs, bars, large events and care homes, and that the EU digital certificate would be required to stay in hotels, go to the gym or dine indoors in restaurants.
If you sit outdoors, you won't need to show the digital certificate.
Students will return to school a week later than usual to control the spread of the virus after the holiday festivities, and it is now recommended where possible to do remote work during the first week of January.
Costa said Portugal must continue to bet on vaccination to control the pandemic. By the end of January, health authorities hope to give COVID 19 booster shots to a quarter of the country's population.
The premier said that Vaccination has allowed us to save lives.