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Ombudsman Receives Five Mandatory Mask Complaints

The Ombudsman’s Office has received five complaints about the mandatory use of masks in public spaces in Madeira.

Questioned by Lusa News Agency about whether complaints have already been filed with the Ombudsman on the mandatory use of masks in public spaces in Madeira, in force since the 1st of August.  A source from the Ombudsman’s office has confirmed that to date they have received five complaints which are ‘still being analysed.’

The mandatory use of a mask in all public spaces in Madeira came into force at 00:00 on the 1st of August, coinciding with the Regional Government’s (RG) decision to re-extend a ‘State of Calamity’ across the archipelago, until the 31st of August.

The controversial measure was announced by the Regional Government at the end of July with much of the controversy surrounding the legality of such a law considering the low rate of infection on the island.

The Government has remained adamant with regard to its resolution.  A resolution that was further endorsed by the President of Portugal during his visit to Porto Santo.  However, the RG has issued a list of situations where a mask need not be worn.  These are during sports practice, physical activity and/or leisure that involves physical effort, recreational-sports activities in forest areas and recommended walking routes, as well as on beaches, bathing areas and complexes and access to the sea, with the exception of sanitary facilities. In addition, children up to the age of ten years old are exempt from wearing masks as are those who experience difficulties putting them on or taking them off.

Contacted by Lusa last week about this measure, constitutionalists Jorge Miranda and Paulo Otero disagreed on the constitutionality of the mandatory use of a mask in public spaces in Madeira.

Jorge Miranda admitted to having ‘doubts,’ considering that the situation is ‘different’ from what happened in the Azores, referring to the decision of the Constitutional Court that the Azorean authorities violated the constitution by imposing on those who arrived in the region a mandatory quarantine of 14 days because of the pandemic.

“One thing is a physical constraint like quarantine, masks are a constraint, but it can be said that it is a safety measure designed to prevent contagion. Therefore, it is completely different” he said.

However, Paulo Otero, believes that the Regional Government is ‘invading a sphere of competence of the Republic, and as such, the organs of sovereignty.’

According to the epidemiological bulletin issued on Sunday by the Health Administration Institute (IASAÚDE), Madeira had not registered any new cases of Covid-19 since Saturday and one more person recovered, although three are in hospital, with one being in intensive care.

Samantha Gannon

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