A mandatory weekend curfew in the run-up to Christmas is being viewed as a “kick in the face” for the retail and restaurant sectors and for the Portuguese economy as a whole.
This is the opinion of the Portuguese Shopping Centres Association (APCC) and its president António Sampaio de Mattos who warned about the “serious consequences” of the curfew on trade and the restaurant sectors with the prohibition of movement over the next two weekends.
“This mandatory curfew measure at the weekends is a kick in the face for (retail) trade and restaurants, and for the Portuguese economy in general,” said Sampaio de Mattos in a communiqué, stressing that he understands that public health is the priority.
The ban on people being on the streets from 1pm during the weekends of November 14 and 15, and November 21 and 22 – in the 121 districts deemed of the greatest risk of contagion – was approved on Saturday by the Council of Ministers and foresees exceptions to get to work (for those not working from home), returning home from work, situations of emergency, and dog walking.
The association says it is very surprised with the government measure and argues that “companies simply cannot cope with forced closedowns” because this causes large losses, unemployment and contributes towards slowing down the economy.
“In the same week that we signed a protocol with the Ministry of the Economy and Digital Transition with the aim of boosting early Christmas shopping so as to avoid large crowds of people in shopping centres, we are surprised at a measure that could precisely encourage these crowds at other times of the day and week,” says Sampaio de Mattos.
The association president also argues that this measure will have consequences on the real economy and will “irremediably affect” employment because of bankruptcies in trade and restaurants and even shopping centres.
Under the terms of the curfew in the 121 districts, trade establishments such as shops and shopping centres must close by 10pm and restaurants by 10.30pm, but mayors of municipal councils can limit the closing times to even earlier than the government deadlines in line with local health authority advice.
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By CHRIS GRAEME/Essential Business