Some Lisbon nightlife back under curfew after illegal partying

LISBON (Reuters) - Nightlife in and around the Portuguese capital Lisbon goes back under curfew from Tuesday in areas with the most new coronavirus cases, after the easing of restrictions led to a surge in illegal partying.

FILE PHOTO: A waiter waits for customers at a restaurant, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in downtown Lisbon, Portugal May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

Over the weekend, police broke up parties and raves along the shoreline that exceeded a limit of 20 people per gathering. One beach party that spilled out of the parking lot of a restaurant near Lisbon had about 1,000 revellers.

Despite a relatively low coronavirus toll of 39,392 confirmed cases and 1,534 deaths, authorities are worried that several hundred new cases are being found every day in Greater Lisbon.

But the government maintains that the outbreaks are localised and traceable to particular workspaces and crowded neighbourhoods.

“The nucleus of the problem is centred in just 15 neighbourhoods ... we need a stronger effort in these areas,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference after meeting local council leaders in Lisbon.

In these areas, the limit on gatherings will be halved to just 10 people, and commercial spaces with the exception of restaurants will close by 8 p.m., Costa said.

Restaurants will no longer be allowed to serve drinks after the 8 p.m. curfew, and drinking in public spaces outside of licensed esplanades will also be prohibited.

The number of new cases among people aged 10-30 has jumped by around 90% since Portugal eased restrictions on gatherings, according to health ministry data.

A birthday party in the southern Algarve region three weeks ago attended by around a hundred people has led to 76 new cases, authorities said.

After several European countries limited entry to visitors from Portugal last week, Costa on Friday said it was testing more people than most EU countries, so it was natural still to have a relatively high number of infections.

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, editing by Andrei Khalip and Kevin Liffey