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El Salvador: Court decrees the reopening unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador on Friday declared unconstitutional the executive decree number 32 with which the government regulated the economic reopening in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and reiterated that it cannot prohibit the carrying out of economic activities as intended.

In the resolution, the Constitutional Chamber of the highest court considers that, with this economic reopening in five phases, the government is limiting the movements and activities of people, companies and other sectors, and that it is unconstitutional for all activities to be prohibited. people leave their homes to work until the day that corresponds to them to leave according to the respective economic phase arrives.

Thus, he assures that the government is suspending important manifestations of the right to freedom and the exercise of other fundamental rights.

But the Chamber kept the decree in force until August 23, giving space for the government and the deputies to agree on a law to reopen the economy and combat the pandemic.

The Chamber makes it clear that, according to the Constitution, to limit a fundamental right such as free movement and to decree an exception regime, it can only be done by means of a legislative decree and never by a government decree.

“The Constitutional Chamber has just declared the economic reopening phases unconstitutional. In all countries of the world, governments are ordering reopening gradually to control the pandemic. In El Salvador, today that is also unconstitutional. They don’t care about anything anymore? ”President Nayib Bukele wrote on his Twitter account.

For his part, Health Minister Francisco Alabí tweeted: “Decisions about the pandemic must be made based on scientific evidence and prioritizing the lives of Salvadorans. Decree 32 declaring unconstitutional leaves us, at this moment, in a vulnerable position. Health is not a game ”.

The Legislative Assembly is dominated by the former guerrilla Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena), fierce opponents of the government who have refused to approve recent requests for a national emergency law and emergency regime. with which a mandatory quarantine could be decreed.

For this reason, Bukele has denounced that the Legislative Assembly and the Constitutional Chamber have been in charge of taking away all legal tools and “leaving the Presidency as a kind of hospital administrator.”

Faced with the alarming increase in infections and deaths from the coronavirus in almost the entire country, El Salvador announced on July 29 that it was delaying the second phase of its economic reopening until August 20.

This stage has already been suspended twice. It was originally scheduled for July 7, then moved to July 21, and Bukele announced the new delay “after hearing the opinions of experts and, above all, the Ministry of Health.”

With the public health system at the limit, El Salvador registers 19,544 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with 520 deaths and 9,379 people recovered. There are currently 9,645 active cases, 514 in critical condition and 1,178 serious.

The country launched the first phase of the economic reopening on June 16 after almost three months of quarantine. But given the accelerated increase in infections and deaths, Bukele announced on July 5 that he would postpone the passage to the second phase for 15 days, and on 19 of the same month he delayed it again.

With the first phase, conventional taxis and those that are reserved via the application were circulated again and the reopening of construction, manufacturing, textile and electronics industries, shopping centers for online or telephone sales, and restaurants for home delivery or take out.

In the second, scheduled for August 20, it could operate the collective passenger transport, call centers, the plastic, paper and cardboard industries, as well as the footwear, cosmetics, manufacturing and creative industries. In addition, business and professional services will be allowed. Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, public, telephone, cable and internet services would open in shopping centers, as well as restaurants and food areas in open and closed spaces following sanitation protocols.