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COVID-19 round-up: Portugal ends COVID restrictions as mandatory jabs blocked in Slovenia

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By Josephine Joly with EFE
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A healthcare worker administers a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to a man at a vaccination center in Lisbon on July 2, 2021.
A healthcare worker administers a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to a man at a vaccination center in Lisbon on July 2, 2021.   -   Copyright  PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
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Portugal lifted almost all of its coronavirus restrictions on Friday (October 1), reopening its bars and nightclubs that had been closed since March 2020.

The country has inoculated roughly 86% of its population of 10.3 million, becoming one of the world's most vaccinated countries.

There has also been a sharp drop in new cases, to about 650 a day, and far fewer deaths.

Drinkers in Lisbon's Bairro Alto were in high spirits in the early hours of Friday morning, toasting the reopening of bars and celebrating what has already been dubbed as "Freedom Day".

Belgium eases restrictions on face masks

Belgium followed Portugal in the reopening of its nightclubs and pubs.

Face masks will no longer be mandatory in the hospitality sector and in shops, but must still be worn in care homes, on public transport, and some sporting events.

Italy's COVID pass mandatory to enter the Vatican

Further south in Italy, residents, workers, and visitors will have to carry the so-called "Green Pass", a health certificate showing proof of COVID-19 immunity, from October 1 to enter the Vatican.

The pass is already widely used in surrounding Italy, and a short temporary exception will be made for those attending mass, but only "for the time strictly necessary for the rite", according to the Vatican City state.

Slovenia's Constitutional Court blocks plan to make vaccination mandatory

The Slovenian Constitutional Court has blocked a government plan to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for public employees, just hours before it was due to come into force on Friday.

The government had planned to require around 31,000 people including civil servants, policemen, and soldiers to either be vaccinated or to have recovered from COVID-19 in order to continue working.