“The Government Council determined that from 20:00 on 12 February, that is, on the Friday before Carnival, all establishments of non-essential trade will be closed and all establishments of restaurants, drinks and similar, with the exception of take-away and home delivery service”, said Clélio Meneses.

The minister was speaking, in Angra do Heroísmo, at a press conference to present the update of the restrictive measures to combat the covid-19 in the Azores.

According to the Regional Secretary for Health, “the ban on all festivities related to Carnival and the ban on circulation on the public road between 8:00 pm and 5:00 am” is also foreseen in this period.

“These are objectively restrictive measures, but they are necessary to avoid clusters and risky behavior. And they are certainly the necessary and appropriate measures to have a great Carnival in 2022”, he stressed.

Clélio Meneses justified the decision with the fact that they had come to the knowledge of "informal organizations" on several islands for that period.

“This is not conducive to the time that we live. We live in a time of great risk, in which there must be great restraint, because any distraction can lead to what is being the good result of the behavior of most Azoreans being harmed”, he stressed.

On the day when a new vaccination phase against covid-19 starts in the Azores, the regional secretary of Health said that “clear, objective and strict instructions were given for the scrupulous compliance with the vaccination criteria by all the entities responsible for the respective administration”.

Asked about the point of the investigation into possible violations of the vaccine administration criteria in the Azores, Clélio Meneses said that these situations are still being investigated.

"The listings have already been delivered and we are currently making this assessment to later proceed with any eventual investigation process that would make people who ended up having these behaviors in violation of the criteria responsible", he said.

The official stressed that if irregularities are proved, they will be “exceptional situations”, highlighting the “positive and responsible way in which the overwhelming majority of vaccines are being administered”.

"From what we hear, there are cases where it is said that in order not to waste a vaccine, it was administered to the person who would be closest, but all this will be investigated to understand whether or not there is any disciplinary responsibility for those who did it", he said.

The Azores currently have 335 positive cases of infection with the new coronavirus, which causes the covid-19 disease, of which 282 in São Miguel, 36 in Terceira, 13 in Faial, three in Pico and one in Flores.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, 3,702 positive cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been detected in the region, with 26 deaths and 3,240 recoveries.