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Overview of legal measures as of March 13th as response to the coronavirus.
Please note: Due to the extraordinary situation, the legsilation is in conitnuous evolution and may change very fast.
Different solutions have been adopted by the countries and their governments throughout the world seeing the new scenery they had to deal with because of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The first case of COVID-19 in Uruguay was detected on March 13th 2020. So the actual government in state which assumed March 1st had to dedicate itself from the beginning with this problem, changing the priorities of its original plan of government.
In all the aspects where a Decree or Resolution number is not mentioned because they were accepted agreements between Government, Business Chambers or Public entities, without the need of giving it the force of a law.
This is a summary of the main decisions adopted.
1. INTERVENTIONS AND RESTRICTIONS
1.1 Legal basis
Exhort meassures of social isolation.
The announcement of the creation of the Coronavirus Funds, which will be made by a two month input of public workers´ salaries who earn over 80.000 Uruguayan Pesos (about 1.860 U$S Dollars), to which a discount will be made in a scales of 5, 10 and 20%, according to the nominal salary. The measure includes about 15.000 workers who provide personal services to the State. Also political positions, elected and appointed, to whom a discount of 20% of their gross salary will be applied. Public companies and state banks will also contribute, in addition to loans from multilateral credit organizations and savings from the Parliament.
Provide transportation for elder homeless people for permanent shelters.
Transfer 1.000 million Uruguayan Pesos (about 24 Million U$S dollars) from the Economy and Finance Ministry to the Social Development Ministry extending working hours and the creation of new shelters for homeless people, strengthening social programs for the National Food Institute,(which provides food for homeless and people of low resources) and reinforcing the help provided through Uruguayan Social Card (a card that gives some benefits for poor people).
Access of food baskets provided by Social Developement Ministry and the increase of Family Asignations.
Extension of benefits of internet access to 120.000 services belonging to Universal Home programs, without cost. During the month of April, they will access to a refill of 50 free gigabytes so as to stimulate permanence at homes.
Free phone extension, since Thursday March 26th, through Antel (Public Telephone Company) service, in order to attend all the people who ask for any kind of food aid.
Extension of the coverage from the State Insurance Bank to all the medical doctors in the country (labor accidents or professional sickness for instance).
Presentation of the Coronavirus.uy app, available for Android and IOS telephones which allows the connection of citizens with possible symptoms of COVID-19 with health service providers, so as to reduce waiting for medical attention at medical offices in this sanitary emergency.
Partial close of borders, which means a 14 day mandatory quarantine for passengers coming from countries declared risked or symptomatic. These are China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Iran, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany; it means those Nations declared at risk by World Health Organization and the countries which registered multiple cases and those which Uruguay maintains a daily link for flights. The visitors coming from these places must comply the defined quarantine by law.
Suspension of flights coming from Europe since Friday March 22nd.at 00.00 hours. Since then, the air companies coming from these countries may enter only if they´re bringing Uruguayan citizens or residents.
Total closure of river, land and air borders with Argentina since Tuesday March 17th.Except Uruguayan citizens and residents of Uruguay, transport of merchandise and humanitarian aid to Argentina.
Development of a border crossing protocol in the Emergency National System, jointly with National Defense, Interior and Public Health Ministries, which includes all Uruguayan borders, especially the dry border with Brazil.
Arrangements for the return of all those compatriots who are stranded in different countries. In the frame of intense negotiations, special flights are implemented, to guarantee the return, in attention to various situations.
Suspension of tourist purposes out of the country for Uruguayan citizens and resident aliens until Monday April 13th extended until further notice.
Prohibition for cruise crew and passengers to descend on Uruguayan soil.
Agreement between Health, Foreign Affairs and National Defense Ministries for the adoption of a sanitary protocol to evacuate all the people at Montevideo`s port and have them sent to the Carrasco International Airport because of humanitarian reasons.
1.4 Export control
1.5 Prohibition of crowds
Suspension of all public shows, including movies, theatres, sports, concerts, traditional feasts and any others. Avoid crowded gatherings, events and parties is recommended. This measure, at first, was until Easter, but it extends until today.
Exhortation to reduce the maximum mobility through passengers public transport and asking firms to extreme hygienical measures, for the crew as well as for the passengers.
Divulgation through good public advertising campaigns, focused in preventive measures.
Restrictive measures for street markets, except for food; which must be done in reduced hours, but allowing the population get their food. This measure was defined by National and provincial governments.
Exhort the population to avoid crowds in public places reinforced by the circulation of police mobiles, as a way to contribute to prevention of virus spread.
1.7 Open Businesses, Industries and allowed Gatherings
Suspension of all public shows, including movies, theatres, sports, concerts, traditional feasts and any others. Avoid crowded gatherings, events and parties is recomm
The implementation with Uruguayan Transport Chamber, of hygiene protocol for buses, taxis, and school transfers.
Urban passenger transport frequency decrease on Saturdays and Sundays. This is to stimulate people to stay at home.
Mandatory use of a mask, since Friday April 24th. clerks and customers of malls installed shops and closed places where food is sold, in agreement with Uruguayan Supermarket Association. Since Monday April 27th also will be mandatory to get in collection premises, Banks and other financial services suppliers.
Using masks at public transport and taxis is exhorted. The users will have them available in every bus.
1.8 Shareholder's meetings and other meetings of companies
1.9 Supply of essential medical goods
1.10 Health care
Exhortation to extreme personal hygiene measures, like handwashing, keeping distance from people who cough or sneeze. Those who cough or sneeze should cover their faces. Home medical consultation if any symptom appears; specially those who had contact with sick people with COVID-19, and do quarantine .
Dispatch to Parliament of a law Project in order to include COVID-19 as a professional sickness for 45 days. This, will make possible the health insurance coverage to dependent workers, medical and not medical, who work in the private sector and they catch the virus.
Instrumentation of a chatbot to evacuate queries through <coronavirus.uy> domain.
Actions to assure the availability of alcohol gel needed to satisfy the demands of the population.
Home coverage for those patients suspected of COVID-19 infection and their families, by public and private health providers.
A direct and permanent control to users and clerks of nursing homes will be exercised by a commission made up of public and private providers.
1.11 Persons with a higher risk
Exhortation to people over 65 years old to comply with preventive quarantine. That means that 7.774 public workers must stay at their homes. For 17.000 dependent workers in private activity over 65, who work in activities of Industry and Commerce, Building, Agricultural and Domestic Service branches, sickness benefit mechanisms will be generated and the insistance and exhortation to comply with the recommendation.
Agreement with the Uruguayan Supermarket Association for priority care to people over 65 between the hours of 08.30 to 10.00 A.M., so as to avoid crowds and prevent contagion in this part of the population.
Public Health and Social Development Ministries will coordinate the audit of the long-stay centers for older adults.
2. SUPPORT OF BUSINESSES
2.1 Legal basis
2.2 Support measures
Exemption and postponement tax and Social Security contributions payment (linked to personal and employer) for personal companies.
In sole proprietorships, those who work by their own, and very small companies cases, exemption by two months to pay taxes and social security contributions; and payment facilities, what consist in payment in installments of them.
Creation of Coronavirus Fund, destined to face the sanitary emergency and its socioeconomics consequences, which nurtures from public funds contributed by the national government, civil society donations and loans from international organizations specially intended for this purpose.
Creating a transitional tax, during two months, with option for one more month, that taxes public workers income (including political positions), retirements and pensions up to 120.000 Uruguayan Pesos (about U$S 2.700) monthly, whose destination is for the Coronavirus Fund.
Expansion of credit access, to both companies and individuals, to make it easier for the adverse circumstances caused by the social isolation and the consequences by loss of income; all in favorable terms and interest rate conditions.
Aligned with the above, the Central Bank of Uruguay reduced mandatory reserve requirements that banks should have, so they can increase liquidity, which they can offer for the before referred loans.
Subsidy to the most vulnerable sectors, consistent in food baskets and money during two months, extensible according to the epidemic duration.
Postponement of payments of current loans for 90 days decided by the financial system.
3. SUPPORT OF THE JOBMARKET
3.1 Legal basis
3.2 Support measures
Instrumentation of telecommuting in those required cases. It´s suggested as an option, when it´s possible, to public and to private jobs. Where it is required, as an alternative, to install telecommuting, in the cases where needed. All of this, in both public and private levels.
Flexibilization in the use of unemployment insurance provided by the State through its Social Security Programs, and to allow its use for less time or even part time, and help the most affected sectors with total or partial shutdown of their activities.
Subsidy for culture workers for two months.