Hope and caution as Portugal further eases COVID-19 lockdown

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Three months after Joao Correia was forced to shut his cafe in one of Lisbon’s shopping malls, he welcomed customers back on Monday, feeling both cautious and hopeful about the future.

Portugal imposed a second national lockdown in January to stem what was then the world’s worst COVID-19 surge. A nation of just over 10 million, it has recorded over 830,000 cases and close to 17,000 deaths from the virus.

Strict rules have been gradually relaxed since mid-March when hair salons, bookshops and some schools reopened.

Two weeks later, food terraces, museums, markets, fairs, small shops and gyms were allowed to open doors. On Monday, it was the turn of shopping centres like the Amoreiras mall in Lisbon, where Correia has worked for over three decades.

“I was anxiously waiting for this … it’s a joy to get to this day,” he said. “We made no cash for three months and now, step by step, we have to recover.”

Cinemas, high schools, universities and indoor areas of restaurants were also given the green light to reopen on Monday in most of Portugal.