STATE OF NATIONAL ALARM TO ATTEND TO THE CORONAVIRUS COVID -19 SANITARY EMERGENCY
Presidential Decree No. 4.198 was published in Official Gazette No. 6.535 Extraordinary of May 12, 2020. Through said Decree, the State of Alarm to Attend to the Coronavirus COVID-19 Sanitary Emergency was declared (the “Decree”).
On March 13, 2020, the first Decree of State of Alarm to attend to the Coronavirus COVID–19 Sanitary Emergency in Venezuela was issued. Its period of time was subsequently extended.
The State of Alarm is a type of state of emergency established in the National Constitution, through which the constitutional rights may be temporarily restricted. Said state of emergency will last up to thirty days and may be extended for up to thirty days more.
Following are the most important aspects of the Decree:
Purpose of the Decree
To declare the State of Alarm in all of the national territory, given the social circumstances that seriously risk the public health and safety of the inhabitants of the Republic of Venezuela, in order for the National Executive to adopt the urgent, effective, and necessary measures for protecting and preserving Venezuelan population’s health, with the purpose of mitigating and eradicating the risks of epidemic related to the coronavirus COVID –19 and its possible strains, assuring opportune, efficacious, and efficient attention to the cases that arise.
Persons/entities subject to the Decree
1. All authorities of the Venezuelan National Government, in their national, state, and municipal ambits, will urgently comply with the Decree as a priority and will keep the National Executive opportunely informed, through the Executive Vice-presidency, of all situations under the jurisdiction of the same that are or may be affected by the risks of the coronavirus COVID -19 epidemic.
The Executive Vice-president of the Republic of Venezuela and the Ministers, in the frame of their competence, will develop, through resolutions, the necessary measures established in the Decree.
2. The natural persons, as well as the private legal persons, are under the obligation to comply with the provisions of the Decree. They will be individually liable when their non-compliance risks the citizens’ health or the full execution of the provisions of the Decree. Said persons must cooperate when for urgent reasons their cooperation is required by the competent authorities.
Immediate Preventive Measures
1. The health system continues to be in permanent emergency for the prevention of and attention to the cases that may arise. All sanitary authorities, public officers and servants of the public health establishments, in the national, state, and municipal ambits, will obey the direct orders issued by the Ministry of the Popular Power for Health, to the extent that they are necessary to respond to the sanitary emergency declared.
2. The information about the public and private health centers designated and operating to conduct the process of attention to the cases detected and to be diagnosed must be daily updated.
3. The President of the Republic of Venezuela may order restrictions on circulation in specific geographical areas or zones, as well as the entry to or exit from the same, when necessary as a measure for protection against or containment of the coronavirus COVID -19.
The acts of the National Executive through which the aforesaid restrictions are established will provide for alternative measures allowing the circulation of vehicles and pedestrians for the acquisition of essential goods: food, medicines, medical products; the transportation to healthcare centers; the transportation of physicians, nurses, and other workers of health services; the transportation and movement of vehicles and persons by reason of the activities that may not be suspended according to the current legislation, as well as the establishment of routes/corridors designated for sanitary purposes, when necessary.
4. The President of the Republic of Venezuela may order the suspension of activities in specific geographical zones or areas. Said suspension also involves the suspension of labor activities the performance of which is not possible under any remote method that allows the worker to perform his/her work from home.
5. The following will not be subject to suspension of activities:
- The establishments or companies of production and distribution of electric energy, telephony and telecommunications companies, companies of handling and disposal of waste and, in general, those that provide domestic public services.
- The sales of fuel and lubricants.
- Activities of the health service providers of the public and private sector in all of the national health system: hospitals, outpatient health centers, integral attention centers, and other
establishments that provide such services.
- Pharmacies on duty and, when applicable, establishments duly authorized to sell medicines.
- Securities transportation and custody.
- Companies that sell short-life medicines and medical supplies, carbon dioxide (dry ice), oxigen (gases or liquids necessary for the operation of medical centers).
- Activities that form the chain of distribution and availability of perishable and non-perishable food nationwide.
- Activities related to the National Port System.
- Activities related to the transportation of drinking water and the chemicals necessary for making it drinkable (liquid or solid alum), aluminum hydroxychloride, calcium hypochlorite or sodium gas (up to 2,000-lb cylinders or 150-lb bottles).
- Companies that sell and transport gas for household use and fuel for the supply of gas stations for land transportation, ports, and airports.
- Activities of production, processing, transformation, distribution and commercialization of perishable and non-perishable food, issue of sole guides of transportation, monitoring, and
control of conditioned, transformed, and finished agrifood products, transportation and provision of supplies for agricultural use and crops of agricultural products, and all activities that assure the operation of the National Integral Agrifood System.
The Superintendence of Institutions of the Banking Sector (Superintendencia de Instituciones del Sector Bancario – SUDEBAN) will disclose by all available means the conditions of provision of public and private banking services, as well as the regime of suspension of services, including connected services and that of the labor activities of its workers.
6. The mandatory use of protective masks covering mouth and nose is ordered, in the situations that the Decree indicates.
7. School and academic activities in public and private education establishments continue to be suspended in all of the national territory.
8. The performance of all types of public shows, exhibitions, concerts, conferences, showrooms, sport events and, in general, any type of events with public or involving the gathering of people is suspended in all of the national territory.
The establishments engaged in the aforementioned activities will be closed. Among others, the following are categorized as such: cafes, restaurants, bars, taverns, ice cream shops, theaters, movie theaters, auditoriums, conference rooms, concert halls, among other facilities with any type of seating capacity for the public.
The establishments engaged in the sale of food and beverages, of those indicated in the foregoing number, may be open and provide services exclusively for delivery or take-away orders.
9. Any kind of parks, beaches and beach facilities, public or private, will be closed to the public.
10. The National Executive may suspend flights to or from the Venezuelan territory for the period of time that it deems convenient, when there is a risk of entry of passengers or goods with coronavirus COVID-19 or when said transit represents risks for containment of the virus. The Ministry of the Popular Power with jurisdiction over air transportation matters, through a Resolution, will be in charge of issuing the flight suspension measures indicated in this article.
11. Healthcare establishments, hospitals, clinics, and outpatient health centers, public or private, will adapt their protocols to the guidelines of the Ministry of the Popular Power for Health; they may be designated or required as field or sentinel hospitals for purposes of the coronavirus COVID-19 and will not be subject to timetables, shifts or limitations of a similar nature.
12. The National Executive, through the Ministries of the Popular Power with jurisdiction over health, domestic and foreign trade, industry and finance, will assure the production of the essential medicines required to face the virus outbreaks and included in the diagnosis and treatment protocols, in their generic denominations, and will give priority to the importation of medicines and implements for the diagnosis and treatment of the virus.
13. The appropriate coordination will be established in order to assure the full essential supply of goods and services to the population.
Concurrent Measures in case of Contagion or Suspected Contagion
1. Suspected coronavirus patients and those with a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis for having tested positive in any of the tests duly certified for detection of COVID-19 or any of its strains will be in quarantine and isolation up to the time when such test proves that no risk of spreading the virus exists, even if they have mild symptoms.
2. The persons who, for any of the circumstances established in the Decree, were exposed to suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients will also be in quarantine or isolation for two weeks.
3. Security enforcement public agencies are authorized to conduct any necessary inspections to establishments, persons or vehicles if there are grounds to suspect a violation of the provisions of the Decree
Governing Body for the Implementation of the State of Alarm
The Presidential Committee for Coronavirus COVID-19 Prevention and Control, created by Decree 4.160 of March 13, 2020, published in Official Gazette No. 6.519 Extraordinary of even date, continues to exists with the purpose of coordinating and providing advice on all matters relating to the implementation of the necessary measures to be adopted in order to stop and control the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Some Final Provisions of the Decree
1. The Supreme Court of Justice is exhorted to adopt the pertinent provisions to regulate the different situations resulting from the application of the measures of restriction on transit or suspension of activities and the effects of such measures on the processes conducted by the Judiciary or on the operation of the entities that are part of the same.
2. The suspension or interruption of an administrative proceeding as a consequence of the measures of suspension of activities or restrictions on circulation may not be considered a cause attributable to the interested party, nor may it be invoked as default or delay in the performance of the obligations of the Public Administration. In any case, upon cessation of the suspension or restriction, the Administration must immediately resume the proceeding.
3. The Decree will be effective for 30 days, extendible for an equal period, up to the time when the state of containment of the coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic disease or its possible strains is deemed to be adequate and its contagion factors are controlled.
4. The Decree will be forwarded to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice in order for it to pronounce judgment on the constitutional nature of the same.
The Decree became effective as from May 12, 2020.
In order to access the Decree, please click here.
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