Business should not hold excess liability for visitors not complying with the mask regime
In July, the Verkhovna Rada registered two legislative initiatives that strengthen the liability of businesses for the mask regime violations conducted by their visitors. According to the community, the draft laws No.3890 and No.3891 establish excess liability and impose burdensome fines on business for the actions of visitors.
The European Business Association fully supports the actions of public authorities aimed at preventing and combating the spread of coronavirus in Ukraine but believes that the above initiatives treat the business community unfairly and significantly complicate its activities. Besides, they contain some terminological inaccuracies that can be interpreted ambivalently by regulatory authorities.
Thus, the draft law No.3890 provides that public establishments shall be fined for failure to ensure the visitors wearing personal protective equipment, as well as for allowing unprotected visitors to such places. Business representatives note that the establishments check at the entrance whether the visitors have their masks on, however it is quite difficult to provide surveillance during the entire stay of the person on the premises, as it is necessary to attract additional resources. Meanwhile, the fines amount to UAH 3,400 to UAH 5,100 per visitor violating the rules.
The current legislation already provides for fining the management of such an establishment, so the imposition of additional penalties for such violations is illogical and creates a financial burden for business. Also, the amount of the fine proposed to be imposed on the business is significantly larger than the fine for the individual who removed the mask (UAH 170-255) which creates a room for unfair competition. For example, there is a risk that a business can intentionally send a person who will remove the mask in its competitor’s premises.
Also, it is unclear how the management of the public establishments can act in case the visitor refuses to wear a mask or stop. One of the options is to detain such a visitor physically until the police arrive on call, however:
- First, there is the question of whether the public establishments are eligible to perform such actions;
- Second, even if they are eligible, not all security guards will be able to perform it physically;
- Third, regarding the police calls, there are cases when the police refuse to respond to calls about citizens refusing to wear a mask in the trading hall.
Imposing severe fines on businesses is unlikely to help in preventing the spread of the virus. On the contrary, it will financially burden the business which has already been damaged economically due to the quarantine. It is important to appeal to the public and to raise awareness about the need to use personal protective equipment in public places, rather than transferring control functions and responsibilities to the business. Besides, we consider such sanctions against companies to be unfair, while even public figures do not always comply with the mask regime. The rules should be equal for everyone.
Given this, the European Business Association proposes not to impose new fines on businesses and assign the public establishments with solely one obligation – warning a visitor about the mask regime when he tries to enter a public place or public transport without wearing a mask.
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