According to the guideline issued by the Ministry of Health with number 266 dated 21.04.2020 “For determining business categories according to the level of risk and respective protocols of sanitary hygiene measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19”, the businesses are classified under three categories:
• Low risk (green code) e.g. retail shops, taxi services;
• Medium risk (yellow code) e.g. banks, financial institutions, open public markets;
• High risk (red code) e.g. call-centers.
Based on the level of risk, each business should comply with the respective protocols of sanitary hygiene measures. Some of the measures that are applicable for all level of risks include use of protective gloves and masks, disinfection of the working environment, ventilation at least three times per day, respecting of a 2m distance between employees, posting of approved posters by the Ministry of Health against the spread of COVID-19. Further, business should inter alia:
• Draft internal policies that shall regulate the working from home or flexible working hours
• Notify immediately both the Public Health Institute and the Local Healthcare Unit in case that an employee shows clinical signs
• Have an isolated environment for an employee, who may show clinical signs of the disease and then call 127 and notify the respective Local Healthcare Unit
• Perform a daily self-assessment as well as an assessment of the company’s employees with regard to the symptoms of COVID-19 according to the approved checklist. In case of symptoms, the continuation of the activity by the respective person should not be allowed in any case and it should be reported immediately as a case in the number 127.
For yellow and red code stringier measures* should be observed such as use of disinfection tunnel and higher frequency of ventilation. The above obligations shall be monitored by the Health State Inspectorate through regular inspections. Failure to comply with the respective protocols may expose the business to administrative and/or penal measures as per the Penal Code.
The following penal sanctions introduced recently through the amendments of the Penal Code will be applicable starting from 8th May 2020:
• Failure to comply or performance of actions contrary to the legal or by-legal acts issued by state authorities, in function of the epidemic state or the implementation of the extraordinary measures, by the person against whom an administrative measure has been previously given, constitutes a criminal offense and is punishable with a fine or imprisonment of up to 6 (six) months.
• The same act, when committed in the exercise of commercial activity, endangering the health of people, is punishable with a fine or imprisonment of up to 2 (two) years.
• Failure to comply with the order given by the competent authorities for quarantine or isolation, or violation of the rules of quarantine or isolation by the person carrying or not the infectious disease, to whom this obligation has been notified by the relevant state authorities, is punishable by imprisonment from 2 (two) up to 3 (three) years.
(*) For the list of protocols please refer to the following link https://e-albania.al/PopupBizneset/protokollet.html
Apart from the explicit measures introduced there are many new topics on the legal agenda driven by the changes of business realities, like impact on employment, commercial relationship, corporate governance issues and data protection. The complexity involved and the variety of legal issues driven by the Covid-19 situation is endless and therefore case-by-case examination of issues involving uncertainty and judgment is highly recommended.
EY Albania Law Team