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New anti-epidemic measures with effect on business

new anti-epidemic measures

NEW ANTI-EPIDEMIC MEASURES WITH EFFECT ON BUSINESS

On 25.11.2020 the Minister of Healthcare adopted two new orders (Order № RD-01-677/ 25.11.2020 and Order № RD-01-675/25.11.2020), which introduce additional and extends the duration of existing anti-epidemic measures in the country. As a result of the introduced measures, a number of restrictions are imposed, which affect the business. Below is a brief summary of the most important of them.

1. Visits to shopping centers are suspended
According to Order № RD-01-677/11.25.2020, for the period from 11.30 p.m. on 27.11.2020 until 21.12.2020, visits to shopping centers are prohibited. The said Order contains a definition of the term “shopping center” – one or more buildings in which shops, restaurants and other commercial sites are located. According to the text of the Order, the ban covers both malls and all other type of shopping centers which meet this definition. An exception to the ban is provided for grocery stores, medical sites, pharmacies, drugstores, opticians, pet stores, banks, insurers, payment service providers, telecommunications operators’ offices and other communications service providers in the shopping centers – all of which can remain open to customers in compliance with current anti-epidemic requirements.
It is important to be noted that according to the Order, all natural and legal persons who own or operate commercial, administrative or other sites that continue to provide services to citizens should establish an organization to control the number of customers in the site, not allowing more than 1 person per 3 sq. m. In all markets and bazaars an organization shall be created for one-way traffic and providing a distance of at least 1.5 m between visitors, as workers and visitors are obliged to wear a protective face mask. Grocery stores organize their work by not allowing persons under 65 years of age to the sites between the hours 8.30 and 10.30 a.m. Thus, the so-called “green corridors” remain only at the specified hours in the morning, but not in the afternoon. The Order does not provide any restrictions and time ranges for visits to pharmacies.

2. Cultural and entertainment events, sports activities and visits to restaurants are suspended
The restrictions under this item are also provided in Order № RD-01-677/25.11.2020 and cover the above-mentioned period. According to the Order, all cultural and entertainment events (cinemas, museums, galleries, stage events, concerts, classes in dance, creative and musical arts, etc.) are suspended. An exception is allowed with regard to the theaters, if the occupancy is up to 30% of their total capacity, ensuring observance of a physical distance of at least 1.5 m. and obligatory wear of protective face masks.
Congresses, conferences, seminars, competitions, trainings, teambuildings, exhibitions and other public events in the attendance form are also prohibited.
The group tourist trips (excursions) with organized transport in the country and abroad and group visits to tourist sites in the country are also suspended.
Visits to all restaurants and entertainment establishments – restaurants, bars, cafes, confectioneries, fast food establishments, snack bars, etc. are suspended. They can continue their operation only by delivering or taking food for home and office. Visits to gambling halls and casinos are prohibited.
Regarding the sport activities, visits to the fitness centers and rooms for group activities therein are prohibited.  All collective and individual sports activities with training and competitive nature for persons under 18 years of age, except for international sports events, which has begun as at the date of entry into force of the Order, are also suspended. All sports events of a training and competitive nature for persons over 18 years of age and international sports competitions for persons under 18 years of age may be held, but without an audience.
The activities which  are not suspended or prohibited by this Order shall be conducted in compliance with all anti-epidemic measures introduced by Order № RD-01-675 from 25.11.2020, namely keeping physical distance at least 1.5 m. between the persons to whom the respective services are provided in the premises and the adjacent open-air areas; presence of hand sanitizer at the entrance of the site; organization for control of the entrance of the site with regard to the number of entrants and the wearing of protective face masks; informing consumers about the obligation to observe physical distance, hand hygiene and wear protective masks on the face when visiting the site. Persons providing administrative and other services to citizens, are encouraged, if possible, to provide the services in an electronic form.

3. The duration of the measures concerning employers and employees is extended
The new Orders of the Minister of Healthcare do not change the existing organization of the work process. Employers should organize the work of employees in remote form (teleworking/ home office), where possible, to allow attendance at work of no more than 50% of staff. Additional measures which should be implemented by employers, when home office is not possible, are flexible working hours or shift work, approved schedule for use of regulated rests, where applicable, as well as application of other preventive measures and methods of work, depending on the specifics of the respective work activity, which should provide a better level of protection of the employees, including limiting unnecessary contacts at work.
Order № RD-01-675 from 25.11.2020 confirms the existing obligations on employers to conduct anti-epidemic measures at the work premises: (i.) to ensure regular oh ventilation and disinfection of workplaces; (ii.) not to allow access to the work premises of persons with symptoms of respiratory diseases (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of smell, disturbance or loss of taste, etc.); (iii.) to provide instructions to employees on proper hand hygiene; (iv.) to provide soap and water and disinfectant; (v.) to arrange for a physical distance of at least 1.5 m between the persons and if this is not possible – to provide and introduce an obligation to wear a protective face mask; (vi.) to provide personal protective equipment (e.g. a protective face mask, helmet, gloves, etc.) of employees depending on the specifics of the work and risk assessment in the workplace (vii) in direct service to customers requiring space less than 1.5 meters it is mandatory to use a protective face mask or a safety helmet. As an exception, customer service without a face mask or a safety helmet is allowed when mechanical partitions made of glass or other transparent material are provided, allowing wet cleaning or disinfection. Currently, all employers are required to provide face masks to employees who perform their duties (outdoors or indoors) when it is impossible to observe the physical distance of 1, 5 m. As per Order № RD-01-675/25.11.2020, the term of validity of the listed measures is extended until 31.01.2021.
 
For questions and legal assistance regarding the above metioned and other anti-epidemic measures and their effect on your business, do not hesitate to contact the Legal Department of Colliers International at: bulgaria@colliers.com or +359 896 777 654.

 

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