Portugal has declared a state of emergency, which will take effect at midnight (8 p.m. ET on Wednesday) and will last for 15 days.
The Portuguese president announced the decision in a national address on Wednesday.
The decision gives the government more powers to restrict rights, access funds and set minimum public services, among others. Any practical measures will only be decided, announced and put into place after an extraordinary cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday. However, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said during a news conference that “democracy won’t be suspended.”
The country was a dictatorship for decades, with democracy being restored in 1974.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called the COVID-19 pandemic “a true war,” which will bring true challenges to the country’s “way of life and economy.
Rebelo de Sousa also praised the behavior of Portuguese citizens, “who have been exemplary in imposing a self-quarantine,” which reflects “a country that has lived through everything.”
By the numbers: Portugal currently has 642 cases of coronavirus, including two deaths.