A new law which came into effect this week but unveiled in the pages of The Portugal News last September, will see it become compulsory for all establishments that provide personal attendance to let pregnant women, the elderly, disabled citizens and parents carrying young children, pass ahead of other customers or face fines of up to €1,000.
The new law means that all establishments, public and private, must abide by the legislation or face penalisation.
It extends a ruling that until now was only applicable to public services.
From now onwards, pregnant women, the disabled, the elderly and parents carrying toddlers aged up to two will be legally entitled to queue-jump.
Restaurants, shops, offices, supermarkets, all establishments with customer services are compelled to uphold the ruling and no signage is required to inform other customers of the order.
In daily scenarios, this means that a pregnant woman may pass ahead of other patrons waiting in line for a table at an eatery, while wheelchair-bound citizens should be given priority when buying a newspaper in a paper shop.
Citizens in the aforementioned categories who are refused priority service will be entitled to call the police to take note of the occurrence and enforce the obligation.
Entities caught disrespecting the law face fines of between €50 and €500, in the case of an individually-owned company, or of between €100 and €1,000 if the entity in question is collectively-owned.
Exceptions to the general rule are situations in which appointments are pre-booked, and health services, where patients are seen based on clinical assessments.
Registry services are also excluded from the law “when changing the order of customer service could jeopardise the allocation of a subjective right or position arising from the priority of the registration”.
Under the law a person is considered disabled when they have a medically-recognised disability level of 60 percent or more, and have specific difficulties that could “limit or hinder activity and participation on equal terms.”
Citizens aged 65 or over and who have an “obvious change to or limitation of physical or mental functions” are considered elderly.