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Ponta Delgada ,  March 11, 2020

Press release from the extraordinary meeting of the Council of the Government

The Extraordinary Council of Government of the Azores met in Ponta Delgada, as part of the regional action to tackle the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, has assessed the situation regarding the measures already implemented, highlighting, among them, the following:
• In what concerns the Azores Regional Civil Protection and Fire Service (SRPCBA), the Azores Health Line has been technically prepared to operate with 10 service stations since March 9, which represents a five-fold increase in its operating capacity;
• As of next Monday, March 16, the validation of a suspected COVID-19 case will no longer be carried out by the National Medical Support Line. Instead, it will be carried out by the medical and clinical staff of the SRPCBA (regulating physician and clinical director);
• All Health Units have a stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Since March 5, this stock has been monitored on a daily basis.
• Fire brigades, emergency ambulances and ILS ambulances are equipped with PPE for biological incidents;
• The preparation of contingency plans for regional schools is nearing completion as the deadline is reached tomorrow.
Currently, there is work is under way to verify and confirm the availability of diverse materials;
• In addition to these actions, a number of investments are in progress, namely at the Divino Espírito Santo Hospital (rooms and laboratory), and various types of equipment are in the process of being purchased.
The Council of the Government has decided on the following new measures:
1.  Declare state of alert in the entire territory of the archipelago until March 31 under the terms of the Legal Scheme on the Civil Protection System of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, without excluding the possibility of extending this period or the transition to the following phases provided for in the document, namely the state of emergency.
2.  Include in this declaration all the preventive measures and recommendations already issued in this regard by the Public Health Authority as well as all those that will be further issued by the same entity.
3. In addition to these measures, the Council of the Government has determined the following:
a) Postpone all events promoted by the Regional Government during this period to a date after March 31;
b) Recommend that events scheduled for this period and promoted by other public or private entities be postponed to a date after March 31.
The events promoted by private entities with financial support granted by the Region, under various incentive systems, will continue to benefit from such support.
c) Suspend the travel of government officials or regional administration agents, including public institutes or public companies, outside the Region, except those that are absolutely essential;
d) Suspend the travel of external entities requested by the regional administration to the Region, including public institutes and public companies, except those that are strictly necessary;
e) Recommend the same procedure to all other public and private entities in the Region;
f) Recommend the postponement of all trips to and from outside the Region until March 31, regardless of the circumstances, except those that are absolutely essential;
g) In the case of individuals coming from areas considered to be of active community transmission, who do not respect the recommendation issued in the previous paragraph, impose the express authorisation of the Regional Health Authority as a mandatory element for disembarking in the territory of the Autonomous Region of the Azores.
For this purpose, the concerned persons should contact the Azores Health Line in advance.
Should they not comply with this mandatory requirement, these persons are incurring the crime of disobedience and, as such, a complaint will be filed with the judicial authorities.
h) Suspend all authorisations to berth cruise ships and yachts in the ports and marinas of the Autonomous Region of the Azores until March 31, except in cases duly authorised by the Regional Health Authority, provided that no passengers disembark;
i) Suspend the procedures established in the Regional Legislative Decree approving the Region's Budget for 2020 and in the Regional Regulatory Decree implementing the said budget as regards the authorisation for the recruitment of personnel or the acquisition of services, delegating to the competent bodies of regional Hospitals, Island Health Units, Health Centres and the Azores Regional Civil Protection and Fire Service the powers to authorise the acquisition of goods or services deemed necessary to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak;
j) Increase the budget appropriations for Regional Hospitals and Island Health Units up to 15 million Euros, with the following services already benefiting from additional funding:
- Azores Regional Civil Protection and Fire Service - one million Euros;
- Divino Espírito Santo Hospital, Ponta Delgada - 500 thousand Euros;
 - Santo Espírito Hospital, Terceira Island - 300 thousand Euros;
- Horta Hospital - 200 thousand Euros;
- São Miguel Island Health Unit - 150 thousand Euros;
- Terceira Island Health Island Unit - 100 thousand Euros;
- Faial Island Health Unit - 75 thousand Euros;
- Remaining Island Health Units - 50 thousand Euros;
k) Request all health professionals in the Region to reinforce their availability, even if such entails the postponement of scheduled holidays to a later date;
In regard to the economic effects of this situation, and following the meeting held this morning between the Government and several entities representing the economic sectors, it was decided to apply directly to the Region all business support measures defined at national level, with the due adjustments when necessary.
Furthermore, it was decided to create a working group with the participation of entities representing the tourism sector, which will meet on a weekly basis to monitor the evolution of impacts in the sector as well as to analyse trends and propose additional measures aimed at supporting the sector to mitigate the effects of reduced activity.
4. Most important measure: the individual behaviour of each one in compliance with the stipulated recommendations and measures.
“The protection of all people begins with individual protection."



Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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