When is a state of calamity declared?

The state of calamity is applied in cases of large-scale catastrophes and is the highest level of intervention provided for in the Basic Civil Protection Law, after the alert and contingency situation.

Who declares the state of calamity?

The declaration of the situation of calamity is the responsibility of the Government and takes the form of a resolution by the Council of Ministers.

However, this resolution of the Council of Ministers may be preceded by a joint dispatch by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Internal Affairs recognising the need to declare the situation of calamity.

According to the Basic Civil Protection Law, the autonomous regions' own government bodies are also responsible for approving specific emergency plans for each of them.

In the Azores and Madeira, civil protection emergency plans at a municipal level are approved by the member of the Regional Government responsible for the civil protection sector, and the National Civil Protection Commission is informed.

What is the difference between the state of emergency and state of calamity?

The state of emergency is an initiative by the President of the Republic, approved by deliberation of the Assembly of the Republic, after listening to the Government. A state of calamity can be decreed by the Government.

The state of emergency is the second degree of the states of exception provided for by law, it can determine the “partial suspension of the exercise of rights, freedoms and guarantees”, while in a situation of calamity the right to strike and demonstrate is not prohibited.

In a state of emergency, the Armed Forces are on standby, while in a calamity situation it is the civil protection forces that are responsible for operations.

Who monitors the state of calamity?

The Basic Civil Protection Law states that all citizens and other private entities are obliged “to provide the authorities with the personal cooperation required of them, respecting the orders and guidelines addressed to them and corresponding to the respective requests”.

Refusal to comply with these obligations corresponds to the crime of disobedience.

However, the law provides that security forces and services may also intervene in conjunction with protection agents, and the Armed Forces may also collaborate.

Can limits be placed on the movement of people?

During a state of calamity, “limits or conditions for the movement or permanence of people, other living beings or vehicles” may be set.

Article 22 of the Basic Civil Protection Law makes reference to epidemic outbreaks as a reason for restrictions on the movement of people when referring to the “establishment of limits or conditions for the movement or permanence of people, other living beings or vehicles, namely through the subjection to collective controls to prevent the spread of epidemic outbreaks”.

The calamity situation also allows for the establishment of sanitary and security fences and for “rationalisation of the use of public transport, communications and water and energy supply services, as well as the consumption of basic necessities”.

During a calamity situation, is it possible to make temporary requisitions for goods and services?

The declaration of the situation of calamity implies the recognition of the need to temporarily request goods or services.

What does the law say about access to natural and energy resources?

The declaration of the state of calamity is a sufficient condition to legitimize the free access of civil protection agents to private property, as well as the use of private natural or energy resources, to the extent strictly necessary to carry out the actions aimed at restoring normal living conditions.