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Renewal of Portugal’s State of Emergency. What exactly are the changes?

9emergency renewalThe Portuguese government has backed President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s proposal to extend the state of emergency for another 15 days to help limit the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.

The state of emergency was initially declared on March 18 and the slower growth in the number of confirmed cases in Portugal is owed to the “big effort of containment” that people have made, Costa said. April is the “decisive month” to control the pandemic, which has led the government to limit movement and close some businesses, the premier stated.

“The best way for the state of emergency to last as less time as possible is to now have the greatest intensity in being self-disciplined and in complying with the rules of containment,” Costa said on Wednesday at a press conference in Lisbon. “If we make a big effort in these next few weeks, we’ll start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel sooner.”

Here are the essential points of the draft decree of the President of the Republic:


– Compulsive confinement at home, a health care facility, or other location defined by the authorities may be imposed.

– The establishment of sanitary cords may be imposed.

– Prohibition, “to the extent strictly necessary and proportionately”, of travel that is not justified. Exceptions can be made in particular for work, obtaining health care, assistance to third parties, production and supply of goods and services, and other “ponderous reasons”, it is up to the Government to specify “the situations and purposes in which the freedom of individual movement, preferably unaccompanied, remains”.


– The authorities can request the provision of any services and the use of goods from health units, commercial and industrial establishments, companies and other productive units.

– The mandatory opening and operation of companies, services, establishments and means of production may be determined, as can their closure.

– Limitations may be imposed on dismissals, changes in the quantity, nature or price of goods produced and traded or the distribution and marketing channels.

– Changes to the operating regime of companies, establishments and production units may be imposed.

– Price control measures and combating speculation or hoarding of certain products or materials can be adopted.

– The terms and conditions of long-term performance contracts may be temporarily modified or the requirement for certain instalments to be waived.

– The right to restore the financial balance of concessions may be limited due to a break in the respective use resulting from the measures adopted in the context of the state of emergency.

– Income, interest, dividends and other property or capital income can be reduced or deferred, without penalty.


 – It can be determined that employees of public, private or social sector entities, regardless of the type of employment, present themselves at the service and, if necessary, start to perform functions in a different place, entity and work schedule. Workers in the health, civil protection, and security and defence sectors are covered, as well as other activities necessary for the treatment of the sick, and support for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, children and young people at risk. The functions may be performed in residential structures, in home or street support, in support of the production, distribution and supply of essential goods and services.

– The temporary reduction scheme for normal working time can be extended and simplified

– The right of union associations to participate in the drafting of labour legislation is suspended.

– The exercise of the right to strike is suspended when it compromises the functioning of critical infrastructures, health units and essential public services, as well as in economic sectors vital to the production, supply and supply of essential goods and services.


– Border controls on people and goods, including sanitary and phytosanitary controls at ports and airports, can be established.

– The necessary measures can be taken to ensure the international circulation of essential goods and services.


– The limitation or prohibition of meetings or demonstrations may be imposed.


– Religious celebrations and other worship events that involve a gathering of people may be limited or prohibited.


– Face-to-face classes may be prohibited or limited.

– Distance learning may be imposed by telematic means (using the Internet or television).

 – Postponement or extension of school terms may be imposed.

– Adjustment of assessment methods may be imposed.

– The suspension or rescheduling of exams or the opening of the school year can be determined.

– “Possible adjustments” can be made to the model of access to higher education.


– It can be determined that telecommunications operators send their customers written messages (SMS) with alerts from the Directorate-General for Health or others related to the fight against the epidemic.


– The perpetrators of “any and all acts of active or passive resistance” directed at the orders of the authorities may incur a crime of disobedience.

– “Exceptional and urgent protection measures” can be taken for prisoners, as well as for staff working in prisons.

– The declaration of a state of emergency does not affect the rights to life, personal integrity, personal identity, civil capacity and citizenship, non-retroactivity of criminal law, defence of defendants and freedom of conscience and religion.

– The effects of declaring a state of emergency do not affect freedom of expression and information.

– The principle of the unitary state or the territorial continuity of the state cannot be called into question.

– The Attorney General’s Office remains permanently in session.