Portugal’s parliament pardons prisoners and suspends electricity, gas and water shut-offs amid Covid-19 pandemic
YESTERDAY (Wednesday) Portugal’s parliament temporarily suspended electricity, water and gas shut-offs and granted partial pardon to some of its prisoners as the country moved to contain the economic and social damage of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Electricity, water, and gas cannot be shut off until a month after the State of Alarm has ended, easing pressure on Portuguese families struggling to pay their bills.
Government data shows over 4,000 people registering at job centres per day in the first week of April and an increase in unemployment of 28,000 in March as the country’s export-driven, tourism-dependent economy reels from a sharp drop in demand.
Also, on Wednesday, parliament voted to grant a partial pardon to prisoners with pre-existing health conditions, up to two-year sentences or those with less than two years sentence remaining, in a move to decongest prisons and minimise risk in the event of an outbreak.
Prisoners given sentences longer than six months who have served a quarter of their time, normally allowed three days leave, will be granted 45 days.
Those convicted of murder, sexual violence, physical abuse, or association with criminal networks will remain in prison, as well as anyone who committed a crime while in public office, from politicians to police officers.
Portugal, currently in its third week of a nationwide State of Alarm, has so far reported 13,141 confirmed coronavirus cases and 380 deaths, a relatively low toll, especially compared with neighbouring Spain.