Stricter public health measures and their impact on employers

New regulations of Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic (“PHA”) issued to fight the spread of COVID-19 will be applicable from 1 October 2020. How will these measures impact employers?

The PHA issued two new regulations on 29 September 2020 that will be applicable from 1 October 2020.

Regulation OLP/7852/2020 (“Regulation 7852/2020”) extends obligations related to mandatory covering of upper respiratory tract, nose and mouth. Significantly, the exception that the covering (usually a face mask) at workplace is not required when individuals at workplace are more than 2 metres apart is not applicable anymore. Under the Regulation 7852/2020 face masks are not required solely when an employee is at workplace alone. Unfortunately, it does not specify whether the exception is also applicable when an employee occupies its own workspace, e.g. own office. Nevertheless, based on how this exception has been interpreted until now, we would conclude that it is also applicable to such situations.

In addition, from 1 October 2020 it is obligatory to wear face masks outdoors unless the distances between individuals is more than 2 metres.

Stricter public health measures may require employers to re-evaluate the measures they have implemented in relation to presence of their employees at workplace due to workplace layout and capacities and if necessary, to procure new personal protective equipment, ensure that PPE are regularly replaced, employees are informed/trained to wear face masks at all times unless they are alone.

Regulation OLP/7693/2020 (“Regulation 7693/2020”) imposes restrictions on entering Slovak Republic, if an individual has visited one of the risky countries. This new regulation, in comparison to Regulation OLP/7310/2020 from 17 September 2020 that is applicable until 1 October 2020, does not introduce any significant changes to existing regime. Meaning that,

  1. Any individuals entering Slovakia that within the last 14 days prior to their arrival visited the EU risky country (i.e. the country that is not listed in the binding list of safe/less risky countries available in the Annex 1 of the Regulation 7693/2020) are obliged to undergo home isolation after their arrival. They may terminate their home isolation once they receive a negative COVID-19 test or on 10th day, if they were asymptomatic in the course of home isolation, even if they have not received negative results of the underwent COVID-19 test until that day, whichever is earlier. They must undergo a COVID-19 test not sooner than on the fifth day of their home isolation.
  2. Any individuals who within the last 14 days prior to their arrival to Slovakia visited the non-EU risky country are obliged to undergo home isolation and COVID-19 testing. Their home isolation only terminates when they obtain a negative COVID-19 test (even if home isolation should last longer than 10 days).
  3. All individuals that have visited any of risky countries and are entering Slovakia are obliged to register their entrance via upon their arrival at the latest and must be able to prove their registration to the law-enforcement authorities.
  4. An alternative to the abovementioned obligations is available to individuals who within the last 14 days prior to their arrival visited the EU risky country. They may get tested abroad and in case they present a negative COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours upon their arrival, they are not obliged to undergo home isolation or COVID-19 testing after their arrival to Slovakia. Neither they are obliged to register their entrance via, report their arrival to the competent public health authority or to their physician.

San Marino, Taiwan and Vatican were included to the list of less risky countries by the Regulation 7693/2020. Please note that the Regulation 7693/2020 does not affect the obligations of employers under Regulation OLP/6911/2020. Employers are still obliged to perform checks of the individuals entering the workplace who are subject obligations to undergo home isolation and/or COVID-19 testing now regulated by Regulation 7693/2020.