LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's government will not hesitate to increase restrictions during the festive Christmas period if they are needed to control a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday.
Despite having one of the world's highest vaccination rates, a recent uptick of infections and the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has prompted the government to reimpose some restrictions since Wednesday.
When asked if the government might take further restrictive measures during the Christmas period, Costa said: "We all wish that these measures are not necessary, but if they become necessary, we will take these measures.
"We must always be vigilant to take new measures, if necessary. That's how we've been living for the past two years and we've managed to prevail, although it's been hard for everyone," Costa told reporters.
Costa commended the Portuguese people for their civic mindedness and their understanding that individuals are only protected when the whole population is protected.
To tackle the latest surge, the government reimposed on Wednesday mandatory mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, recommended remote work whenever possible, and ordered all air passengers to show a negative test on arrival even if they are vaccinated.
The only exemptions are for people who have a recovery certificate after having caught the virus, as well as children aged 12 or below.
(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Nathan Allen and Mark Heinrich)