On 29 September 2020, Decree-Law 78-A/2020 amending the exceptional and temporary measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic was published. As a result, Decree-Law No. 10-J/2020 of 26 March, which establishes exceptional measures for the protection of credits of families, companies, private social solidarity institutions, non-profit associations and other entities of the social economy, is now in force for a further six months, until 30 September 2021.
In this sense, the moratorium previously approved until 30 September 2020 (and extended first until 31 March 2021) was once again extended until 30 September 2021 under the above mentioned Decree-Law. The moratorium concerned stipulates a "prohibition on the cancellation of contracted credit lines and the extension or suspension of credits" until this period is over. In this way, the government sought to ensure "the maintenance of financing for families and companies" and to prevent "possible defaults resulting from a reduction in the economic activity".
As a result, the payment of instalments on bank loans, taken as principal and/or interest, has been suspended. This means that, even if a loan has been agreed and the debtor is in a grace period, the debtor can benefit from these moratoriums, thus postponing the fulfilment of his commitments without giving rise to any breach of contract or the triggering of early repayment clauses.
Under this moratorium regime, both companies and natural persons had until 30 September 2020 to submit a communication of their adherence to the moratorium, and anyone who would be “covered by any of these measures on 1 October 2020 would automatically benefit from this extension".
Now with the acknowledgement by the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the Portuguese Parliament that "the second wave of the pandemic continues to cause challenges and liquidity constraints to the economy, in particular to households and businesses in the Member States" the Portuguese Parliament approved the extension of the period for the communication of adherence to the moratorium until March 2021.
Accordingly, the Council of Ministers has approved the Decree Law No 107/2020 of 31 December, thereby amending the banking moratorium regime, allowing the communication of adherence until 31 March 2021, recognising that this amendment aims to address liquidity and cash-flow constraints arising from the economic impact of the second wave of the pandemic.
The provision establishing the "termination of the effects of the extraordinary liquidity support measures" if the entities benefiting from these measures distribute profits in any way, repay credits to the partners or acquire their own shares or quotas, remains unchanged.