COVID-19 | Public health and sanitary measures

Abreu Advogados summarises the principle public health and sanitary measures regulated by the extension of the state of emergency, implemented with the governmental decree 3-A/21, of the 14th January.

Among the principle measures we highlight the return of those that are already known, specifically obligatory lockdown, the duty to isolate at home and implementation of teleworking.

With regard to lockdown, it’s now established that the following must remain in obligatory lockdown[1] : patients with COVID-19 and infected with SARS-CoV-2, citizens about whom health authorities and other health professionals determined must be actively monitored and citizens resident in homes for the elderly.

With enormous impact on the day-to-day life of people, it’s also worth mentioning that during the period in which the state of emergency is active, citizens will not be allowed to circulate in public spaces, as well as spaces and private roads equivalent to public rights of way, having to remain in their respective homes, save in a number of cases provided for by the decree.

With some exceptions[2], we return also to the obligation of the adoption of teleworking, independent of the contractual relation, mode or nature of the legal relationship. This measure is imposed whenever the roles in question allow for it and can be applied unilaterally by the employer or requested by the worker or service provider, without the need for agreement by the parties.[3] If it’s not possible to adopt teleworking, independent of the number of workers, the employer must organise workplace start and end times on a staggered basis, adopt technical and organisational measures that guarantee physical distancing and the protection of workers. These measures include for example the use of masks and face shields, temperature checks and diagnostic tests carried out in the terms defined by the decree. The carrying out of diagnostic tests gained special relevance in this law being now extended to various sectors of society (e.g. workers, users and visitors to healthcare establishments).

Another relevant point is the temporary and exceptional suspension of the possibility of terminating employment contracts of health professionals linked to services and establishments integrated in the National Health Service (SNS), save in exceptional situations duly substantiated and authorised by the governing body.

Finally, the strengthening of the tracking capacity of authorities and public health services is another expectation to be noted. This strengthening will take place via the mobilisation of human resources for the execution of epidemiological surveys, for tracking of contacts with patients with COVID-19 and active monitoring. Armed Forces will undertake an active and fundamental role carrying out surveys and tracking of contacts with patients with COVID-19.



[1] Mandatory isolation at home can take place in a healthcare establishment, in a residential home or in other facilities for the elderly, at home or, if not possible, at another place defined by the competent authorities.

[2] Teleworking is not applicable to workers in essential services covered by article 10 of decree law n.º 10-A/2020, of 13th March, as well as workers that are part of establishments alluded to in n.º 4 of article 2 of Decree law n.º 79-A/2020, of the 1st October, relative to which teleworking is not mandatory.

[3] The business that is the end user or beneficiary of services provided is responsible for ensuring that the above is fulfilled, with the necessary adaptations, to temporary workers and service providers that are providing services to these entities.

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