LISBON, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Portugal on Monday proceeded to the third stage of deconfinement, or easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures, with the gradual reopening of services and other activities in municipalities with a relatively low COVID-19 incidence rate.
In most of the country, schools resumed in-person education and stores, shopping centers and restaurants reopened with occupancy restrictions and in-store health and safety measures.
In the affected municipalities, sports and physical activities for groups of up to six people are now also allowed. Weddings and religious services are also allowed, but limited to 25 percent of the venue's total capacity.
Six municipalities will not advance to this third stage of deconfinement as they each reported 120 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days.
Four counties classified as "high risk" for COVID-19 -- reporting more than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants -- will return to the initial stage of confinement. There the schools, stores, restaurants and cultural establishments will remain closed and movement between municipalities remains prohibited.
Portugal's border with Spain remains closed. However, air services with Brazil and the United Kingdom resumed for essential reasons.
Over 2.5 million people have already been vaccinated in the country, the Portuguese health authorities said.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 272 candidate vaccines -- including 88 in clinical trials -- are being developed worldwide, including in Germany, Britain, China, the United States and Russia, according to data published by the World Health Organization on April 16.