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COVID 19 | Portuguese Government tightens rules of the mandatory confinement

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Since midnight this Wednesday, 20th of January, the Portuguese Government implemented a series of tighter rules following less than a week of the new mandatory confinement in which the regulations proved unsuccessful in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.

After a weekend of media reports showing more people than expected on the streets and descriptions of extreme difficulty public hospitals are facing, Portuguese Prime-Minister António Costa called an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers this Monday, January 18th. The Government agreed on several adjustments and additions to the rules already in place, especially in cases where exceptions were being exploited to remain on the streets or exit the house more often.

The new rules include limitations on take away service for bars and restaurants, a ban on certain public and outdoor spaces, earlier closing hours, tighter regulations for remote work. For now, schools remain open and the Government will even allow after-school activities in specialized centres for certain children, despite mounting pressure from the opposition to reassess the risk associated with parents taking their children to school. The Prime Minister admits to reassess the measure at anytime on the upcoming days.

The more than 10 thousand cases of Covid-19 recorded per day in the last week and over 200 related deaths in the last 24 hours place Portugal as the worst European country at the moment and one of the worst countries in the world when considering cases and deaths due to Covid-19 per million inhabitants.

Below is a summary of the new restrictions included in the Law Decree approved by the President of the Republic and published on the same day.

New RULES IMPLEMENTED in the confinement

  • Customer service establishments must close at no later than 8 p.m. on weekdays and at no later than 1 p.m. on holidays and weekends. The only exception is for food retailers, which can close at no later than 5 p.m. on holidays and weekends.
  • People must remain in their municipality of residence during the weekend, except for special health reasons, work, or assistant to vulnerable family members.
  • Restaurants, bars and similar places – which can only serve on a take-away basis – can no longer sell any type of drinks to customers.
  • Customers are not allowed to eat or drink near to restaurants and bars.
  • Restaurants inside shopping centres can only function for delivery services, direct or by intermediary. Take-away is forbidden.
  • All other types of commercial establishments are forbidden to deliver goods or products such as clothes on a take-away basis.
  • All price reductions and discount campaigns aimed at drawing customers to stores are now prohibited.
  • People walking or practising sports cannot stay in parks or leisure areas, they can only pass through during short periods.
  • Outdoor locations for sports such as tennis, basketball and padel courts or golf courses can no longer be used.
  • Remote work must be the rule for companies. On-premises workers must have a special credential provided by their employers justifying their impossibility to work remotely.
  • Companies with more than 250 employees will have until Friday the 22nd at midnight to send the Authority for Working.
  • Conditions a full list of workers whose functions demand their physical presence in the company’s premises.
  • Centres for after-school activities will be allowed to open for students under 12-years-old.
  • Senior universities, day-care centres and leisure centres for elderly people must remain closed.

Tiago Vidal

Partner and Managing Director LLYC Portugal

Responsible for the operations of LLYC in Portugal, Tiago Vidal leads a team of experts responsible for the development and implementation of Reputation Management strategies, Communications and Public Affairs in leading companies in sectors such as Finance, Real Estate, Energy, Transport and Logistics, Distribution, Automotive, and FMCG. He was previously Head of Corporate Communications at Sonae Sierra, where he led all B2B communication activities in 14 countries. During his 16 years at Sonae Sierra, Tiago was responsible for reputation management, brand, corporate marketing and PR, relationship with stakeholders and crisis communications, including IPO’s, mergers and acquisitions.

Maria Eça

Client Services Director

Maria is responsible for the Public Affairs and Crisis&Risks areas in LLYC in Portugal, working with clients from the banking and insurance sector, health, online gambling and retail. She is advising companies such as Leroy Merlin, Liberty Seguros and Unilever. She has also participated in M&A and foreign investment projects.

With over 8 years’ experience as a journalist, specializing in economics and society, Maria worked at TVI (private television), where she had the chance to follow and report Portugal’s key issues and relevant news about the main companies operating in the country, on a daily basis.