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Meet the Law | Covid-19: State of Emergency in Angola - Restrictive measures approved

Under Presidential Decree no. 81/20, of 25 March 2020, a State of Emergency was declared in Angola for a period of 15 days, starting at 00:00 27 March. This period can be extended. Following the State of Emergency declaration, Presidential Decree no. 82/20, of 26 March 2020 (the "Decree") approved the restrictive measures that will be in place.

What is the scope of the Decree?
The Decree establishes the restrictive measures that will be in place during the State of Emergency and the temporary suspension of certain rights and freedoms of Angolan citizens and residents during such period. It also sets out specific rules aimed at mitigating or preventing certain adverse effects that may result from the enactment of the State of Emergency and empowers public entities to approve further regulation aimed at implementing the measures approved under the Decree.

What are the main emergency measures implemented by the Decree?
The main measures set out in the Decree are as follows:  

  • Closure of national borders;
  • Mandatory quarantine for those infected with the new coronavirus SARS-Cov2 and under medical surveillance;
  • Limitations to freedom of movement within national borders;
  • Closure of non-essential private and public establishments;
  • Possibility to subject employees to a remote working regime, as determined by the respective employers;
  • Tenant protection measures;
  • Simplification of licensing procedures and public procurement of essential goods;
  • Suspension of limitation periods applicable to legal actions and rights; and
  • Right of the State to temporarily request private property, for the purposes of containing and preventing the COVID-19 contamination.  

What does the closure of national borders mean?
It means that no movement in and out of the country shall be allowed during the State of Emergency, except when related to essential goods and services, humanitarian aid and transport of patients. The same shall apply to cross-province movement.

Will everyone be subject to mandatory quarantine?
No. Only those who are infected with the new coronavirus SARS-Cov2 and those which must be under medical surveillance as determined by the relevant health authority shall be subject to mandatory quarantine on a medical establishment or at home. Any breach of household quarantine shall constitute a crime of disobedience and shall lead to institutional quarantine.

Although not subject to a mandatory quarantine, citizens in general must remain at home and can only go outside in the following situation set out by the Decree:

  1. Acquisition of essential goods and services;
  2. Provision of essential services;
  3. Performance of professional activities which remain in force during the State of Emergency;
  4. Obtaining health care;
  5. Home delivery of food and medicines;
  6. Participation in social volunteering activities;
  7. Participating in public acts of public institutions which remain operational;
  8. Obtaining bank services;
  9. Displacements to workplace, when applicable;
  10. Returning to household; and
  11. Transportation of goods.

What about those who are more vulnerable?

Those over 60 years of age, immune-compromised persons, persons with certain underlying health conditions which are deemed more vulnerable, pregnant women and women with children under 12 years old at their care are protected by special duties of care during the State of Emergency period.
People within the above category are not subject to mandatory quarantine but to additional limitations on their freedom of movement as they can only leave home for limited purposes as set out by the Decree. This includes the purchase of essential goods and services, going to the health center or taking small walks for health reasons.
In addition, people under the above regime holding an employment contract with any public private entities which continue operating during the State of Emergency, are exempt from performing in-office work.

Which public services will remain open during the State of Emergency?
As a general rule, all public services will close. Exception is made to:

  1. Public and private hospitals;
  2. The Angolan Central Bank ("Banco Nacional de Angola");
  3. Insurance services;
  4. Pharmacies, medication suppliers and providers of medical services and goods;
  5. Military units and services of public order or equivalent;
  6. Private security services;
  7. Civil protection, firemen and emergency services;
  8. Energy and water suppliers, including the respective front desks;
  9. Waste disposal and waste treatment services;
  10. Cemeteries, morgues and respective death registration services. 

What about private commercial establishments?
Private establishments will also close, with the exception of:

  1. Food wholesale and retail establishments;
  2. Banks and payment services;
  3. Telecoms, press, TV and radio services;
  4. Hotels;
  5. Take-out and home delivery restaurant services;
  6. Fuel stations and all services within the fuel supply chain;
  7. Funeral agencies and related services;
  8. Automobile mechanics and urgent repair services; and
  9. Any other services which are critical for the general well-being, as long as expressly authorized to operate.

Closure of the commercial establishments mentioned above is strictly forbidden except in force majeur situations, and competent authorities may carry out actions required to keep them operational and open.

Does the Decree set forth any restrictions on industrial activities?
Yes. As a rule, industrial facilities shall be closed by virtue of the State of Emergency, except the following:

  1. Production of food and beverages;
  2. Production of goods essential to health services;
  3. Oil and respective supporting services;
  4. Mining;
  5. Industrial plants that operate under continuous production cycles, such as the use of high temperature ovens;
  6. Production of cardboard, glass and plastic;
  7. Other production units considered essential to collective life, as long as duly authorized by the competent sanitary authority.

Closure of the industries mentioned above is strictly forbidden except in force majeur situations, and competent authorities may carry out actions required to keep them operational and open.

Does the Decree set forth a remote working regime?
The Decree provides that employees which are exempt from performing their working activities during the State of Emergency may be subject to a remote work regime. It is up to the employer to decide which sort of remote work shall be implemented.

Does the Decree establish any employment protection measures during the State of Emergency?
Employers are expressly forbidden from terminating employment contracts on the grounds of an employee's absence from the workplace. However, disciplinary measures may be applicable to employees which are under the obligation to continue working during the State of Emergency and fail to do so.

What about the right to strike?
Presidential Decree no. 81/20, of 25 March, expressly suspended the right to strike in sectors which are essential for the production and supply of basic goods and services and in general whenever its exercise may compromise the running of essential infra-structures or healthcare units.

Does the Decree establish any tenant protection measures?
Yes. Eviction in residential lease contracts is not permitted during the State of Emergency but tenants must still sill pay the rents.

Are there any measures aimed at expediting the acquisition of essential goods during this period?
Yes. In the private sector, importation licenses for food, medication, biosecurity materials and other essential goods should become easier to obtain. The Decree provides that the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy and Planning, the Ministry of Transports, the Ministry of Commerce and the National Bank of Angola shall implement a simplified and less cumbersome process for the importation of these goods. Such regime has not been enacted yet. A special tax regularization regime for the import of food and medicine shall also be implemented.

The acquisition of essential goods and services by public entities during the State of Emergency shall be subject to an exceptional regime, to be further enacted. Public procurement of food, medication, biosecurity materials and other essential products shall follow the simplified procurement regime during the State of Emergency.

Will existing licenses, visas and other documents which expire during the State of Emergency remain valid?
Yes. Licenses, permits and authorizations as well as official documents, including identification cards, driving licenses, passports, vehicle property registration, tourism and work visas and residency cards which expire during the State of Emergency period will remain valid.

Will deadlines be suspended?
During the State of Emergency the calculation of limitation periods applicable to legal actions and rights will be suspended.

Will there be supplementary regulations on the execution of the Decree?
Yes. Under the Decree several Ministries are instructed to enact further regulation to implement the measures approved thereunder during the State of Emergency period, therefore, further legislation is to be expected.

When has the Decree entered into force?
The Decree entered into force at 00:00 hours of 27 March 2020.

 

In collaboration with CMS Rui Pena & Arnaut.

Authors

 Picture of Filipa Tavares Lima
Filipa Tavares de Lima
Partner
Luanda