New restrictions imposed by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine for prevention of the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in Ukraine
The restrictive measures under the previously introduced quarantine have been strengthened on the whole territory of Ukraine until April 3, 2020 by the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine as of March 16, 2020, No. 215 “On Amendments to the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine as of March 11, 2020 № 211” (“the Decision No. 215”) . In previous newsletters we talked about restrictions which have been imposed on the territory of Kyiv1, in this article we will focus on some nuances of nationwide measures.
What is the quarantine?
It is a set of administrative and health-related measures that are used to prevent the spread of especially dangerous infectious diseases. These are infectious diseases (including quarantinable ones: plague, cholera, yellow fever) characterized by severe or persistent health disorders of many patients, a high mortality rates, rapid spread of these diseases among the population (Article 1 of the Law of Ukraine “On Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases” (“the Law”). COVID -19 has been added to the list of especially dangerous infectious diseases by the Order No. 521 as of February 25, 2020.
It should be noted that according to Article 29 of the Law, until cancellation of the quarantine, only persons who have presented a certificate which entitles them to travel outside the quarantine area, may leave the quarantine area. Persons who stated their willingness to leave the quarantine area until its cancellation, should be kept under medical supervision during the incubation period of the relevant disease and undergo the necessary examinations. Upon expiry of their stay in the observation, taking into account the results of medical supervision and examinations, a certificate is issued for them entitling them to travel outside the quarantine area (Article 31 of the Law). There is no knowledge at this time how this rule will be put into practice.
Business should take into consideration that Article 30 of the Law provides a number of additional powers to the local executive authorities and local self-government bodies on the area where the quarantine has been instituted (i.e. on the whole territory of Ukraine):
- to engage enterprises, institutions, organizations irrespective of their form of ownership in implementing measures on localization and elimination of the epidemic or outbreak of an infectious disease;
- to involve for temporary use transport vehicles, buildings, facilities, equipment and other property of enterprises, institutions and organizations irrespective of their form of ownership which is required for implementing preventive and anti-epidemic measures followed by full reimbursement of their cost or expenditures related to their use in accordance with the law;
- to establish a special regime of entry into and exit from quarantine area for citizens and vehicles, and if it is necessary – to carry out a sanitary inspection of personal belongings, luggage, vehicles and cargo;
- to introduce more stringent requirements, than those established by the legislation, for quality, conditions of production, making and selling of food, processing regime and quality of drinking water;
- to establish a special procedure for preventive and anti-epidemic, as well as disinfective and other measures;
- to set up checkpoints on entrances and exits of quarantine area, to involve, in accordance with the established procedure, military servicemen, workers, technical and transport means of enterprises, institutions, organizations irrespective of their forms of ownership, departments and subdivisions of central executive authorities that implement government policy in the areas of state defense and military construction, as well as protection of public order.
Has the quarantine procedure been followed correctly?
The discussions in specialized publications on the legitimacy of the quarantine that has been instituted are still going on, since the issue on its institution should be brought up at the level of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine by the central government body that ensure a formation of the state health policy (the Ministry of Health of Ukraine) upon submission of the Chief Public Health Officer of Ukraine. The powers of the latter is exactly the issue in question. At this time, the Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine is appointed as the Chief Public Health Officer according to the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine2. At the same time, Article 32 of the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring Sanitary and Epidemic Safety of the Population” states the following:
“The State Sanitary Epidemiological Service of Ukraine is chaired by the Head of the Central Executive Body that implements the state policy in the sphere of sanitary and epidemiological well-being of the population and holds the position of Chief Public Health Officer of Ukraine”.
So there are two circumstances which are not in favor of legitimacy of the current quarantine: (1) The State Sanitary Epidemiological Service is winded up3 at the moment; (2) anyway the Chief Public Health Officer of Ukraine is not a Minister (a head) but the Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine. At the same time let’s focus on the restrictions:
What is prohibited? (our comments are in italics)
1) to attend educational establishments by students till April 3, 2020;
if you have some doubts regarding your business, the answer to the questions what is “educational establishment” and “educational activity” you can find in the Article 1 of the Law of Ukraine “On Education”;
2) to hold all mass (cultural, entertainment, sports, social, religious, advertising and other) events involving more than 10 people except for the events required for the support of the state authorities and local governments operation since 12:01 a.m., March 17, 2020 till April 03, 2020;
as we mentioned before previous limit was 200 people; actually any activity can fall under the notion “event” without a strict/clear legislative definition;
3) since 12:01 a.m., March 17, 2020 till April 3, 2020 – the operation of business entities providing for reception of visitors including public food services (restaurants, cafes, etc.), shopping and entertainment centers, other entertainment facilities, fitness centers, cultural institutions, shopping and consumer services establishments, except for retail sale of food, fuel, hygiene goods, medicines and medical products, means of communication, rendering banking and insurance services, as well as trading activities and public food services with targeted delivery provided that staff is supplied with personal protective equipment;
there is no practical value to go through each example mentioned after “including” because the operation of any business providing reception of visitors is actually subject to prohibition;
as to the exceptions enumerated after the “except for” it is worth to know that retail sale is a type of economic activity of business entities on selling (no processing) new and used goods to the population, intended mainly for consumption by individuals (private persons) or households, in shops, department stores, stands and kiosks, mail-order companies, intermediary sellers etc. (the codes according to the Classification of Types of Economic Activity (CTEA) – 50.10.2, 50.30.2, 50.40.2, 50.50.0, 52.1, 52.2, 52.3, 52.4, 52.5, 52.6)4;
the Resolution No. 215 does not specify what personal protective equipment is acceptable for the company staff who are going to work in targeted delivery regime. By analogy, for example, according to the respective Health Care Standards5 the primary security measures include using PPE to avoid direct contact with blood, body fluids, secretions (including breathing) and the intact skin. In other words, it is not only a mask or respirator but also at least gloves. Besides the question arises whether the whole staff should have PPE or only couriers.
4) since 12:00 p.m., March 18, 2020 till April 3, 2020:
regular and non-scheduled transportation of passengers by vehicles in suburban, interurban (intra- and inter-region) directions (except for transportation in light motor vehicles);
the transportation of more than 10 passengers at the same time in one vehicle, urban electric transport (tram, trolleybus) and motor transport that carry out a scheduled passenger transportation within urban routes in the normal mode of traffic;
the transportation of more than 10 passengers at the same time in a bus that carries out scheduled passenger transportation within urban bus routes which works as fixed-route taxi;
entry of the buses that transport passengers in suburban, interurban (intra- and inter-region) directions into the area of bus stations and selling tickets by owners of the bus stations to transport operators which perform such transportations;
the main definitions which are used in the Resolution No. 215 are defined in the Law of Ukraine “On Motor Transport”;
5) since March 17, 2020 till April 3, 2020: to carry out transportation of passengers by underground in such cities as Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro according to the decision of the State Commission on Technogenic and Environmental Safety and Emergency Situations as of March 16, 2020;
6) since 12:00 p.m., March 18, 2020 till April 3, 2020: the transportation of passengers by the railway transport in all types of domestic connections (suburban, urban, regional and long distance). Joint Stock Company “Ukrainian railways” is permitted to carry out passenger transportation in domestic railway connections, the decisions on which shall be taken in each particular case based on approval of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Health, as well as a certain passengers trips in international railway connections, the decisions on which shall be taken in each particular case based on approval of the the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Administration of the State Border Guard Service.
The above commentary presents the general statement for information purposes only and as such may not be practically used in specific cases without professional advice.
2Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 229-р as of March 11, 2020.
3Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 348 as of March 29, 2017.
4Instruction for completing the form of the state statistical monitoring on retail chain and restaurant business chain approved by the Order of the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine No. 327 as of October 24, 2005.
5Standards of Medical Care approved by the Order of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine No. 552 as of February 25, 2020.
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