On March 12, the Council of Ministers issued a Communiqué on extraordinary measures to respond to the epidemic of the new coronavirus in which the Government declared a ‘State of Alert’ until April 9 (See Communiqué).
On March 17, the EU announced the closing of Portugal, among other EU member countries, to nearly all visitors from all over the world for at least 30 days (See Announcement).
Employers should also abide by measures aiming to protect workers and their families, including accepting absences for employees and independent workers who have to stay at home to accompany their children up to 12 years old; as well as providing financial support for employees who have to stay at home to accompany their children up to 12 years old, in the amount of 66% of the basic remuneration (33% paid by the employer, 33% paid by Social Security) (See Communiqué).
Additionally, companies are required to establish a comprehensive ‘Contingency Plan’ to respond to the spread of COVID-19. The Contingency Plan must involve the OSH Services of the company, workers and their representative, and must provide answers to three questions:
(1) What effects can the worker(s) infection by SARS-CoV-2 have on the company;
(2) What to prepare to face a possible case of SARS-CoV-2 infection from workers;
(3) What to do in a situation where there is a worker(s) suspected of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the company.
In preparation to deal with a possible case infection, the company must establish an ‘isolation’ area where the infected worker can be placed to prevent exposure to other workers. The Contingency Plan should also include detailed hygiene procedures and define the responsibilities of workers to report suspected cases of COVID-19. The company must post in an accessible location, the contact details of the Occupational Health Service, and if possible, the occupational physician(s) responsible for monitoring the health of the company’s workers. The company must provide training to workers to explain the Contingency Plan and its related procedures. The company has a duty to acquire and make available necessary equipment and products including alcohol-based antiseptic solutions and surgical masks (See Guidelines).
Employers should continue to check with relevant authorities for the latest information:
– Portuguese Government Covid-19 Page
– EU Coronavirus Response
– Specific information for Lisbon
– Specific information for Porto