By Alyssa McMurtry
OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – After Portugal registered its highest daily surge of COVID-19 deaths and infections on Wednesday, the country's prime minister announced a fresh nationwide lockdown.
From Friday, no one will be allowed to leave their homes for unjustified reasons.
Schools will remain open, Premier Antonio Costa said in an address to the nation, but remote work will be mandatory if possible.
“I’m fully aware of what this means for everyone. Especially those who are worried about losing their jobs or fighting to keep their businesses open,” he said.
Costa explained that all businesses forced to close will be able to access a simplified layoff program. He also acknowledged that the lockdown will have negative impacts on the economy.
“We know what it means to sacrifice your freedom. But life is priceless and the price we’re paying with this pandemic is unbearable,” he continued.
On Wednesday, 156 more people died of COVID-19 in Portugal, a country with around 10 million people. This is the third consecutive day that the country set record for daily deaths.
At the same time, a record 10,556 coronavirus infections were reported, suggesting the worst is yet to come.
Costa said the lockdown will have a “horizon of one month.”
Portuguese officials will also launch a campaign to perform rapid coronavirus tests on students, Costa explained.