The Director-General of Health Graça Freitas has recommended that people wear masks indoors and in high frequented places, as Covid-19 cases increase. On April 22, the government announced that masks were no longer mandatory in most situations. However, in the face of a sixth wave of the pandemic, Freitas has asked people to once again wear a mask, although this is not mandatory.
Confirming the predictions of the National Institute of Health (INSA), Freitas argued that Portugal would potentially reach 60,000 daily cases by the end of May, as well as 50 daily deaths. A new variant of the omicron is behind the increase in cases that “is more contagious than the original omicron” and causes harsher symptoms. She told the media that “reinfections can happen and we know of people infected for the first time with omicron that have been infected with the new variant”.
The Minister of Health Marta Temido has also said: “Wearing a mask is not mandatory, but that does not mean it’s not recommended. I have people around me that have tested positive and I have been wearing a mask. I have never tested positive and will continue to wear a mask while cases are at this dimension”.
Similarly, Freitas said that she has a mask in her pocket at all times. “If I am sitting in my office alone, with the window open, I do not wear a mask. If someone walks in, I put on my mask”.
The government has said that vaccination will accelerate in the next few weeks. Over 12,000 people over the age of 80 have received their second boost vaccine.
So, are face masks required in Portugal? Not in most places, but they have now been recommended. However, face masks are still mandatory in mainland Portugal, Madeira, and the Azores in public transport, taxis, as well as when visiting nursing homes and health facilities.