What measures can the State take to stop the spread of COVID-19? Could the Government or other public entities impose restrictions on me (for example, limit freedom of circulation, restrict my establishment’s opening hours) based on the need to fight the COVID-19?

The COVID-19 could also warrant regulatory or authoritative measures on the part of Government with a direct impact on private businesses, including suspending their activities or shutting down services, establishments and the enjoyment of public or private places, or the compulsory confinement or provision of health care to persons who constitute a danger to public health – as originally occurred following the declaration of the state of emergency, with the closure of public services of the central and local administration of the State, in the meantime reopened –, as well as the implementation of conditions to the functioning of private commercial establishments and of markets open to public, as it was more recently determined, following the transition from a state of emergency to state of public calamity, with the imposition of limitations on the presence of the workforce, respect for biosecurity rules and physical separation, and the adoption of the rule of temperature control and the installation of hand sanitization points at the entrance and inside the premises (Article 21).

Businesses can anticipate those measures and set up a plan of action in the event of contagion, quarantine, compulsory shutdown, limitations to air travel or circulation and shutdown of non-essential public services.

a vaccination certificate before public or private entities. The vaccination certificate is issued by the Ministry of Health in favour of all citizens who have received the full dose of the vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Vaccination certificates or equivalent documents issued by foreign States are also recognised and accepted. The vaccination certificate must be presented in the following cases:

  • Applying for a public tender for a civil servant position, namely in the education, health and defence and security sectors; and
  • Travel outside the country.

From 15 October 2021, citizens over the age of 18 are also required to present a vaccination certificate in the following cases:

  • Access to public services, by officials and service providers;
  • Access to educational and teaching establishments, by teachers and administrative staff;
  • Access to restaurants and similar establishments;
  • Access to commercial establishments, by managers and workers;
  • Access to cinemas, museums, theatres, monuments and similar;
  • Access to indoor activities and meetings;
  • Access to gyms, sports centres and similar premises;
  • Access to casinos and gambling houses; and
  • Access to musical shows.

The obligation to show evidence of a vaccination certificate, as referred to in the preceding paragraphs, may be substituted by the presentation of (i) proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or (ii) a SARS-CoV-2 test with a negative outcome completed no more than 7 days before.

 

Am I under an obligation to abide by the guidelines and public health protection measures of the authorities?

Public health guidelines issued by authorities are not always binding. However, compliance with those guidelines is linked to the performance of care duties, which may in turn protect and release your company from any damage claims based on tort (or other reasons).

Companies should therefore be prepared to identify and react quickly and appropriately to any legislative or regulatory amendments and to review mere instructions or guidelines.

Companies should also duly record any prevention measures taken by your own initiative or to comply with any laws, guidelines or administrative regulations in connection with the COVID-19.

 

Am I entitled to compensation for any restrictions imposed by those measures?

In very exceptional circumstances, the State could be forced to pay compensation based on any measures adopted to fight the COVID-19 which, although legal, caused special and unusual damages. The State could enact a specific act creating exceptional compensation or liability limitation regimes.

If, in the context of the public calamity situation, the measures taken unlawfully harm a natural or legal person, the latter will be entitled to compensation under general terms (Article 4/4 of the Civil Protection Law), being also established the right to compensation of the owners of the immovable or movable property used (Article 4/5 of the Law of Civil Protection).

 

 

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This information is being updated on a regular basis.

The information provided and the opinions expressed herein have been prepared with the help of VdA Legal Partners and are of a general nature. They are not in lieu of appropriate legal advice in connection with specific cases.

If, in the context of the public calamity situation, the measures taken unlawfully harm a natural or legal person, the latter will be entitled to compensation under general terms (Article 4/4 of the Civil Protection Law), being also established the right to compensation of the owners of the immovable or movable property used (Article 4/5 of the Law of Civil Protection).