Portugals President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The new measures allow Prime Minister António Costas government to restrict movement of people, temporarily suspend the right of workers in vital sectors — such as health, civil protection, security and defense — to strike, and ban protests and social or religious meetings.
The decision gives the government space to act quickly “but it is not a vaccine nor a miraculous solution,” said Rebelo de Sousa while addressing the nation.
The new measures are set to begin on Thursday and run until April 2, when they will be assessed.
Earlier Wednesday, Costa said “the declaration of a state of emergency will not mean the suspension of democracy.”
“The country will not stop,” he said, adding that “only going forward will we be able to stop this pandemic.”
According to the decree text, the government may also “request the provision of services” from businesses and “modify” their activities or prices of goods according to the needs of the country. It can also request staff in vital sectors work in a different place than normal and at different times.
The measures, decided in coordination between Costa and Rebelo de Sousa, and approved by the parliament, will not affect personal rights or “freedoms of expression and information.”
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