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?

COVID-19 may justify regulatory measures with a direct impact on the activity of public and/or private entities, including the suspension of activity or closure of services, establishments and sites destined for public and private use, as well as the internment or compulsory provision of healthcare to persons who constitute a danger to public health.

As part of the situation of public calamity in place, by means of Decree 1/2021, of 13 January, the Government has approved the implementation of a number of preventive measures, including, among others:

(i)                  Mandatory home quarantine for a period of 14 consecutive days to any citizen who had direct contact with persons infected with COVID-19;

(ii)                All passengers arriving in Mozambique:

  •  have to show evidence of having been tested negative in a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test to COVID-19. The PCR test must have been completed no more than 96 hours prior to their boarding to Mozambique. In any such cases, passengers are exempted from being in quarantine at the arrival in Mozambique;

(iii)               are subject to mandatory isolation when testing positive to a COVID-19 test underwent at the arrival in Mozambique; Mozambican citizens and foreigners who (i) require multiple entries into Mozambique in a short period of time or (ii) make a short trip abroad, must take into consideration that the COVID-19 PCR test is only valid for 14 days, as from the date of sampling;

(iv)               Mozambican citizens coming from abroad that do not present a valid PCR test for COVID-19 are (i) subject to mandatory quarantine or (ii) must undertake a COVID-19 test, at their own expense;

(v)                Children from 0 to 11 years of age are not required to present a COVID-19 test when entering the national territory;

(vi)               Mandatory isolation for all citizens who have been tested positive for COVID-19: (a) home isolation for all citizens that do not show symptoms that require them to be institutionalized; and (b) institutional isolation or admission at a health institution to all citizens whose symptoms require them to be admitted into such institutions;

(vii)             Special protection of particularly vulnerable citizens, notably: (a) citizens aged 65 or over; (b) persons with underlying chronic health conditions deemed to belong to risk groups; and (c) pregnant women. Those falling under any of these groups shall be released from attending work in person;

(viii)                  The use of masks is mandatory in crowded and public spaces, markets, common areas and collective and semi-collective passenger transports (only in cases of physical activity or any proven medical contraindication, will the use of masks be exempted). The use of visors does not exempt the mandatory use of masks;

(ix)                International agreements for the suppression of visas are now valid, on a reciprocity basis;

(x)               The countdown of the deadline for the permitted sojourn period in Mozambique for non-resident foreign technicians working on pivotal State projects is suspended, avoiding therefore the establishment of residence for tax purposes;

(xi)               The issuance of tourist, temporary and border visas is resumed.

(xii)                It is permitted the granting of visas to those travelling to Mozambique for humanitarian and public interest reasons

(xiii)               The issuance of ID Cards, driving licenses, DIREs and import clearances for moto vehicles is resumed. These documents, when expired, will be considered valid until 31 May 2021;

(xiv)             As a general rule (exceptions further addressed), crossing points are closed;

(xv)           Until 7 March 2021, in person classes are suspended in pre-school, primary, secondary, vocational and higher education institutions (public and private);

(xvi)               In general, cultural and recreational activities in public spaces are prohibited;

(xvii)                 Until 7 March 2021, all private social events are prohibited (with exception marriage registration acts, which may continue to be carried out in strict compliance with measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, being restricted to a maximum of 20 (twenty) participants;

(xviii)               Physical exercise at the beach is allowed, provided that all the preventive measures are complied with (namely social distancing);

(xix)             Supermarkets, may be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., onSundays. The remaining commercial establishments maintain the normal business hours;

(xx)            Restaurants are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.;

(xxi)            Until 7 March 2021, a curfew duty is imposed in the Metropolitan Area of Maputo, namely in the cities of Maputo and Matola, District and Municipality of Boane and District of Marracuene, between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. The curfew does not cover:

  • workers whose professional activities doe not allow interruption (due to public interest);
  • unavoidable displacements, namely to obtain healthcare services; and
  • other activities of a similar nature, for force majeure reasons or imperative needs, provided they are duly justified.

(xxii)             All public and private institutions shall remain open to the public but are required to ensure the biosecurity conditions necessary for the protection of their staff and service.

(xxiii)            Credit institutions and financial companies shall be open to the public and provide services;

(xxiv)          Public transportation shall be limited to a maximum number of passengers;

(xxv)        Public passenger transportation shall operate during usual operation hours, except in in the Metropolitan Area of Maputo, namely in the cities of Maputo and Matola, District and Municipality of Boane and District of Marracuene, where the curfew duty is imposed;

(xvi)            The use of masks are mandatory to transporters and drivers entering the country in the context of cross-border trade and may be subject to screening actions, including temperature measurement and testing, when required/applicable . The provisions set under paragraphs (ii) to (iv) above shall also apply.

 

Am I under a duty to comply with the authorities' guidelines and public health protection measures?

Public health guidelines issued by authorities are not always binding. However, compliance with these guidelines is correlated with the fulfilment of duties of care, which in turn may protect and exonerate your company from claims based on non-contractual civil liability (or other reasons).

Companies should therefore be prepared to identify and respond quickly and appropriately to legislative or regulatory changes, as well as to  analyse instructions or guidelines provided.

Companies should also appropriately register the preventive measures taken spontaneously or in compliance with laws, guidelines or administrative regulations associated with COVID-19.

 

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This information is being updated on a regular basis.

All information contained herein and all opinions expressed are of a general nature and are not intended to substitute recourse to expert legal advice for the resolution of real cases.