In Macau, administrative acts must generally be performed in writing. Thus, given the way in which COVID-19 has affected everyday life, Law 2/2020, which was recently approved by the General Assembly, could not have come at a more appropriate time. This e-government law enables public bodies to undertake various actions and formalities electronically and, together with Law 5/2005, provides the tools for modern, paperless proceedings.
Amid the global COVID-19 crisis, the Legislative Assembly has approved Law 5/2020 on workers' minimum wage, which aims to protect workers and avoid overly low salaries. The new law has expressly revoked the minimum wage for cleaners and security workers in the property administration industry and is the first almost-universal regulation to set a minimum wage in Macau.
Although several entities have collected and processed personal data based on genuine public health reasons since the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, such activity lacked sufficient legal grounds in light of the obligation to notify the Office for Personal Data Protection (OPDP). In order to remedy this situation, the OPDP has published three authorisations which exempt entities that process personal data from the requirement to notify it of such processing.
In view of the speed with which COVID-19 spread throughout China, Macau implemented various preventive measures under the Law on the Prevention, Control and Treatment of Infectious Diseases. After more than 30 days without any new cases, some measures were revoked. However, in March 2020 – given the spread of the virus across the globe – Macau was forced to reinforce measures in order to contain the re-appearance of the virus in the region.
Although Macau has largely been spared the human toll of the 2019 novel coronavirus, the region's economy will suffer greatly in the short term. The unpredictable nature of the outbreak and the important human and economic costs deriving therefrom have led to inevitable questions, such as what kind of legal consequences can this virus entail? Further, if the severe economic downturn affects the fulfilment of contracts, could this be a case of force majeure, and could contracts be rescinded on this basis?