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Legal Summary 03/2020

Legal Summary 03/2020

Decree whereby an overall alarm status is declared for the purposes of attending the coronavirus health emergency.

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Decree whereby an overall alarm status is declared for the purposes of attending the coronavirus health emergency.

March 23, 2020

Decree number 4.160 was published in Official Gazette N° 6.159 Extraordinary, dated March 13 of 2020 whereby an overall alarm status is declared for the purposes of allowing the Executive to adopt urgent, effective and necessary measures involving the protection and preservation of health of the Venezuelan population, and intended to mitigating and eliminating epidemic risks in connection with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential strands, thereby ensuring timely, effective and efficient care of any cases that may be originated.

Amongst these measures to be adopted by the Executive as per the contents of the decree, follow:

  • Imposing circulation restrictions (for both car traffic and pedestrians) at certain geographic areas as well as for entering or leaving restricted zones, whenever this may be deemed necessary as a measure for protection against or containment of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
  • Ordering employment activity suspension for those job functions that cannot be undertaken via remote (home office), except for certain cases such as domestic public services companies, fuel and lubricants selling establishments, healthcare services, pharmacies, sellers of short-term expiry medication and medical supplies, carbon dioxide (dry ice), oxygen (whether gas or liquid intended for medical facilities), those engaged in activities involving the food distribution chain and availability, the National Port System, those activities relating drinking water supply and transportation of gas for household use and fuels intended for supplying gas stations for land transportation, ports and airports.
  • Ordering the suspension of international flights into the Venezuelan territory or departing from the Venezuelan territory for as long as this suspension may be deemed convenient, or whenever there may be a risk of passengers or merchandise arrivals bearing the COVID-19 coronavirus, or whenever such transit may represent a potential risk for virus containment.

In addition, the following actions are adopted immediately:

  • The Superintendency of the Banking Sector Institutions (SUDEBAN, for its Spanish acronym) is hereby ordered to establish all necessary conditions for rendering public and private banking services.  
  • The use of protective mask is mandatory in all types of public transportation, hospitals and public spaces.
  • School and academic activity is suspended nationwide as of Monday, March 16 of 2020.
  • All public events, exhibitions, concerts, conferences, showrooms, sport events and any kind of public gatherings are suspended nationwide.
  • Spaces such as parks, beaches and resorts are ordered to be closed to the public, whether public or privately managed.

Next the decree establishes concurring measures in the event of contagion or suspected contagion and security enforcement public agencies are authorized to conduct any necessary inspections to any establishment, individual or vehicle if there are grounds to suspect any breaches to the provisions contained in this decree.

Similarly, the Presidential Committee for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention and Control is created, the object of which is to coordinate and advise on all matters concerning the implementation of any necessary measures adopted to put a halt on and controlling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The final provisions of the decree establish that the suspension or interruption of an administrative procedure as a result of the activity suspension measures or of the circulation restrictions issued, may not be considered as a cause attributable to the interested party and it may not be alleged as cause for delay or tardiness in the compliance of the obligations of the public administration. In any case, upon the suspension or restriction override, the public administration must immediately resume the procedure.

Finally, this decree will be effective for 30 days, subject to extension for 30 additional days, until the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic and its potential strands containment is deemed adequate, and all contagion factors are duly controlled. This decree will come into full force and effect as of the date of publication in the Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

It is important to emphasize that in execution of this Overall Alarm Status Decree, on March 15 of 2020 the President addressed the National on television and radio and announced that a “social and collective quarantine” was immediately effective in Caracas and six states: Miranda, Vargas, Zulia, Cojedes, Táchira and Apure, as of 5:00 a.m. on March 16 of 2020, which implied the suspension of employment activity, except for food supply chains, healthcare and sanitation services, police and military security enforcement and transportation services with the respective enforcement of mandatory use of protective mask for all passengers. Such quarantine measure was subsequently extended nationwide as of March 17 of 2020.

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© 2020 Ostos, Velázquez & Asociados, RIF: J-00256910-7. KPMG Escritorio Jurídico, RIF: J-30435724-9, sociedad civil venezolana de personas y miembro de la organización global de firmas miembro independientes de KPMG, afiliadas a KPMG International Limited, una compañía inglesa limitada por garantía. Todos los derechos reservados.

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