State of calamity: 10 questions and answers about what you can and cannot do in the next 15 days

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The country returns this Thursday, October 15, to the state of calamity in which it had already been placed in April. At the time, it was a step down (from emergency to calamity), now it is up – from the contingency state imposed a month ago, the Government is now moving into public calamity.

The Prime Minister, António Costa, told the newspaper “Público” that it was necessary “a shake”. This shake will last at least 15 days, and change some things. Let’s start there.

1. What changes with the calamity?

Provided for in Law no. 27/2006, this state of exception increases the powers of António Costa’s executive, allowing him “to adopt, whenever necessary, measures that are justified to contain the pandemic, from restrictions on circulation to other measures that concretely and locally justified ”, as read on the website of the Directorate-General for Health. The Government can now re-impose health and safety fences, as happened in Ovar, which, for now, is not yet over the table. The state of calamity “determines a special obligation of collaboration of the media”, reads in the decree-law, “aiming at the dissemination of relevant information related to the situation”, and raises “the level of readiness” of the Armed Forces.

2. Will I be fined if I don’t wear a mask on the street?

Not for now. The Government strongly recommends “the use of a community mask on public roads to all citizens” when it is not possible to maintain a distance of two meters between people. However, the executive’s idea is that this recommendation should become the letter of law. The proposal has already been sent to the deputies, approval is lacking, and yes: if it is approved, it imposes fines on those who do not comply with it.

3. Can I go to the cafe with five friends?

That would not give six people. The gatherings, which up to now had a limit of 10 people, increase to a maximum of five. It means that six friends cannot go to a cafe, a restaurant, a store, a shopping center, or even a garden together.

4. Can I go to play ball with them?

Yes. The Government has not changed the rules for sports.

5. Can I invite you to my wedding?

Yes, as long as the total number of gifts does not exceed 50 people. This is the limit imposed on family or friends gatherings, such as baptisms, weddings and the like. For those who were already booked, nothing changes: the rule only started counting for events scheduled from yesterday, October 14th.

6. My household has six people. Can we go to a restaurant together?

Yes. The limit of five people in restaurants, in shopping centers, in public spaces, on the street, has one exception: cohabitants. For this reason, large families, for example, will be able to continue to frequent these spaces together.

7. I have a restaurant. What changes for me?

Three things. First, the groups: from now on, you cannot accept group dinners with more than five people – when the limit was 10 so far – unless you separate them. The fines also change if you do not do this, which can now go up to 10 thousand euros, when it is not ensured “the scrupulous compliance with the rules in force regarding the capacity and the removal that is necessary to ensure”. And, finally, the inspection of ASAE changes, which will be “reinforced”.

8. Will theaters and cinemas remain open?

Yes. Gatherings do not mean public, so nothing changes when going to events like theater and cinema. The same applies to other shows with an audience, as well as to sporting events. This does not mean that the Directorate-General for Health will not limit events such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Portimão, scheduled for the weekend of 23 to 25 October, that is, within the 15-day period of the state of calamity. However, none of this is part of the eight measures already announced.

9. Can the Government compel me to install the StayAway Covid app? Will I be fined if I don’t have it?

It is too early to answer. A recommendation for the installation of the new coronavirus screening app came from the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. And the aforementioned proposal, which will be debated in the Assembly of the Republic, also includes the mandatory use of the app. But with two caveats: 1) it applies only “in school, professional and academic contexts, in the Armed Forces, in the Security Forces and in the whole of Public Administration”; 2) it can not only be failed by the deputies but also be stopped by other means: the National Data Protection Commission told the newspaper “Público” that it will take a precautionary measure, because the rule “raises serious questions related to the privacy of citizens”. For now, the app is optional.

10. Are the previous measures still in force?

Yes. The measures envisaged during the contingency state, such as the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at service stations and, after 8 pm, in all cafes and restaurants (except during the meal), as well as the ban on consumption in street, remain as they have been here.

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