APCC wants "the Government to determine the full reopening of the shopping centres in the AML", where the shops have to close at 8pm, with the exception of supermarkets that can operate until 10pm.

"The AML has a very significant weight for employment protection, since this is where 35 percent of the country's centres are concentrated, and that these ensure 50 percent of the total employment generated by the sector at a national level," said APCC, a national association that currently has 93 shopping centres, which include 8,600 stores.

Excluding AML, the Portuguese shopping centres registered, in July, a drop in sales of "approximately 25 percent of the values reached in the same period of 2019", said the association in a statement.

Operating with limited hours due to the covid-19 pandemic, the shopping centres of AML, which includes 18 municipalities of Greater Lisbon and the Setúbal Peninsula, are experiencing "sales drops of more than 15 percentage points above the rest of the country", as they are recording a 40 percent drop in turnover compared to 2019.

"The time constraints in force in these areas were also reflected in the number of visitors, which is 47 percent less in the AML centres and about 30 percent less in the rest of the country, in July compared to the same period in the previous year," said the association.

For APCC members, the limitation of opening hours is "unjustified and detrimental to the economic recovery of shopping centre tenants' activity".

"Continuing to unnecessarily limit shopping centres, especially AML, puts at risk the preservation of many jobs, especially in a context where the limitations imposed for the rest of the national territory are already more restrictive than the limitations applied in the main economies in Europe," said the president of APCC, António Sampaio de Mattos, noting that, for example, in several regions of Germany a store with the same area can have twice as many customers.

The 18 municipalities that make up AML are Alcochete, Almada, Amadora, Barreiro, Cascais, Lisbon, Loures, Mafra, Moita, Montijo, Odivelas, Oeiras, Palmela, Seixal, Sesimbra, Setúbal, Sintra and Vila Franca de Xira.

In the communiqué, the president of APCC recalled that since 1 June, shopping centres, with the exception of AML, "are operating without limitations in the rest of the country without any incidents".

"There are no objective reasons to maintain these restrictions on spaces that have shown, like few others, the ability to ensure the safety of visitors, tenants and store staff, complying not only with the rules established by the executive and the recommendations of the Directorate-General of Health, but also with the best practices of this industry at a global level," said António Sampaio de Mattos.