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Brazil: Federal Supreme Court Confirms Concurrent Powers of Federal Government, States, Federal District, and Municipalities to Fight COVID-19

(Apr. 22, 2020) On April 15, 2020, in a session held by videoconference, the plenary of Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court unanimously confirmed the understanding that the measures adopted by the federal government in Provisional Measure No. 926 of March 20, 2020 do not rule out the concurrent competence or ability of the states, Federal District, and municipalities to adopt normative and administrative measures to confront COVID-19. The Court’s decision thus upheld a precautionary measure granted by Justice Marco Aurélio on March 24, 2020, which had acknowledged the concurrent competence of those entities.

The Court was ruling on a Direct Action of Unconstitutionality filed by the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) contending that the changes introduced by Provisional Measure No. 926 as presented in article 3 of Law No. 13,979, of February 6, 2020 were partially incompatible with the Federal Constitution. The PDT argued that the redistribution of police powers introduced by Provisional Measure No. 926 interfered with the cooperation regime between federal entities because it entrusted the federal government with the prerogatives of determining isolation, quarantine, mobility restrictions, public services, essential activities, and circulation of goods.