Portugal to allow COVID-infected voters to leave home on election day

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(Reuters) – Portuguese voters with COVID-19 or those in isolation due to exposure to the rampant virus will be allowed to leave home to cast their ballots in a snap election on Jan. 30, the government said on Wednesday.

The announcement came a day after Portugal, which has almost 90% of its 10 million population fully inoculated, reported a daily record of 43,729 COVID-19 infections, stoked by the fast spreading Omicron variant. Hospital admissions and mortality remain well below levels seen in the previous peaks.

Interior Minister Francisca Van Dunem told a news conference quarantined voters should only head to polling stations from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., urging those not infected to go before that period.

The recommendation is not mandatory. They must wear a face mask, keep a social distance and can only leave home to vote.

Staff working at polling stations will be given protective equipment.

“We need a social pact that allows everyone to vote in safety,” said Van Dunem, asking those in isolation not to take public transport to the polling station but walk or use their own vehicle instead.

The head of health authority DGS, Graca Freitas, said there would be no designated areas for those with COVID-19 to vote in and they would not be required to show proof of their health status at the polls.

“This solution of having a dedicated time period for these people to vote… will prevent, not totally, but will minimise the risk of contagion,” Freitas said.

The election was called after parliament rejected the minority Socialist government’s budget bill for 2022. Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s party has a comfortable lead in opinion polls but is likely to fall short of a full parliamentary majority.

The election campaign is in full swing after Sunday’s kick-off and street rallies draw large crowds, where mask-wearing is optional. (Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)

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7 COMMENTS

  1. What a mess they have created “The National Association of Public Health Doctors expressed astonishment at the measures, saying they represented “a failure of planning” for the snap election, which was foreseen two months ago.

    The government decision sets “an avoidable precedent,” by permitting infected people to leave confinement, and will make it harder for health authorities to persuade infected people to stay at home, the association said in a statement.

    It said it would recommend that doctors refuse any medical liability related to the government’s measures. ” see Portugal’s plan for infected voters at election draws fire, By BARRY HATTON Associated Press

    • CORNEL “TENMAN” HUGHES at least here in Antigua we know that the election is constitutionally due by March 2023. Even if it is called sometime in this year, don’t you think that the Electoral Commission would have had enough lead time to put mechanisms in place to facilitate voting of people in quarantine? I think you should stop chatting so much nonsense and at least provide suggestions to deal with the issue.

      • One time I am Amb. Max Hurst, then I am M Merchant – Director of Communictions, next I am Gaston Browne, now I am the FSRC chairman. Boss why it so important for you to try to disclose my identity? Can’t deal with the message so you wish to try to attack the messenger. The only safe options are doing it via proxy or online/mail in and those won’t work here due to opposition misstrust. Putting people lives in jepordy when there are other more serious concerns, show how out of step you are. Even your party senior members wonder where you left your brain. One woud think the opposition losing its case in BDS would have caused you to take stock, but you are truly donkey natured

        • CORNEL “TENMAN” HUGHES more and more I am convinced you are an idiot. Why don’t you want your identity to be disclosed? Be a man and not a mouse and stop hiding behind aliases. All you ALP apologists and propagandists on ANR like to criticize all and sundry behind your aliases. My identity is disclosed so why shouldn’t yours. You, JUST SAYING, FROM THE SIDELINE and all the other ALP operatives are just cowards.

  2. The screeching U turn is here — the rats are deserting the sinking ship. Yesterday, UK’s prime minister BoJo scrapped the Covid passports, the masks mandates and the work from home requirements. The vaccine mandates for NHS workers likely to follow, as 80,000 workers remains unvaxxed.

    Omicron CRUSHED the vaccine narrative. 😂😂

    • Proves it was always politics and not science. About this rubbish of newer, stronger variants coming out… this too has never happened. I ain’t takin no experimental drugs, and I got enough cards in my wallet

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