Is forced observation for evacuees legal and how much should it cost?

Author : Anna Peshkova

Source : 112 Ukraine

Employees of the National Police and the National Guard requested all arrived from Vietnam, Qatar and Bali to sign a 14-day observation commitment. Many of the evacuees did not agree to such conditions
12:37, 2 April 2020

Open source

Ukrainians continue to return home: authorities organize special trains and flights. And if earlier numerous returnees were simply sent to self-isolation, that is, to their homes, then now the precautionary measures were decided to tighten.

Employees of the National Police and the National Guard requested all arrived from Vietnam, Qatar and Bali to sign a 14-day observation commitment. Many of the evacuees did not agree to such conditions, and some spent more than 10 extra hours on the plane without water, food and a toilet, boycotting the authorities' demands. One of the passengers had to defecate in front of the plane.

It also turned out that for some citizens no free observation was offered. Two-week stay at the "Pushcha Congress" hotel along with meals costs almost 20 000 hryvnias.

Are the authorities' actions in respect of returnees legal, and what will their boycott lead to?

New course: observation instead of self-isolation

After the situation in Novi Sanzhary Ukrainians who arrived in the country were mainly sent to self-isolation. On March 21, the government passed a decree introducing informed consent for home quarantine. Our interlocutor Olexander returned from the Czech Republic on March 25 and stayed at home for exactly five days, but now he already quietly walk in the park. He says that no one offered him an observation: it was enough to sign a self-isolation leaflet.

Observation is not often proposed abroad. Isolation of citizens in hotels and resorts is practically not widespread there, since this gives a high probability of contracting those who were healthy. Usually, authorities simply strictly enforce compliance with home quarantine. In Italy, the fine is 3 000 euros. In Sweden, self-isolated for a walk alone are fined for the first time 135 euros, for the second time - up to 1,500 euros. In the UAE, fines range from 13 to 27 000 dollars, and in Singapore, a citizen who left the country during self-isolation had his passport canceled.

Automatic daily monitoring has also been introduced in Poland. Every day, an isolated person needs to take several pictures, attaching his geolocation.

The penalty for violation of self-isolation in Ukraine is from 17 to 34 000 hryvnias (607 – 1214 USD). But in order to take it, it is necessary to check citizens for staying at home. The Ministry of Health had hopes for complaints from neighbors, and Anton Herashchenko, deputy Interior Minister, wrote about "tens of thousands of district and patrol police officers" who would monitor quarantine compliance.

But Minister of Infrastructure Vladyslav Krykliy said that "the responsibility of self-isolation turned out to be absent." This is not surprising, because the self-isolation leaflet contains many exceptions. For example, if a person needs food products, then going out to the store is not prohibited. The same thing with work from the office - it is better to "try to switch to the remote work." Since the violations are not clearly registered, it is difficult to fine for non-compliance.

Therefore, the authorities decided to try a different tactic. The Minister of the Interior promised that all returnees will undergo a forced observation. New arrivals from Qatar and Bali were provided with two options: the observation in the hotel "Pushcha Congress" with a high level of comfort - for a fee, and the hotel "Cozatsky", located in the center of the capital, on Independence Square - for free. People complain authorities did not warn them about the changes.

“We learned about the observation yesterday, when we took off! Before that, there was talk of self-isolation. If we knew people would have stayed in Bali. We talked a lot about the observation, but no one was strictly quarantined, and we are just one of the last flights, they need at least someone, "says passenger from Bali, Olexiy Val.

It is interesting that, according to those returned from Qatar and Bali, Ukrainians from parallel flights were easily released for self-isolation.

Is forced confinement legal?

Disobedience to border guards and doctors and a passenger’s refusal to have a physical examination can really have consequences for him, because this is a violation of sanitary legislation. Criminal liability is even possible. But passengers did not refuse a physical examination, and even offered to conduct it at their own expense.

Attorney Rostyslav Kravets says that the compulsory observation and hospitalization of people with an unconfirmed diagnosis is not provided for by law: neither the Law on Sanitary Safety, nor the Law on the Protection of Population from Infectious Diseases. Lawyers say that there are no visits to the sanatorium and observations among the duties of citizens after crossing the state border. In addition, it is impossible to confirm the illness of passengers in the current conditions in order to be hospitalized: the state did not provide everyone with voluntary testing at the border.

An emergency situation, which would allow violating the rights of citizens, has not yet been implemented.

But there is a nuance. According to the decision of the Cabinet No. 241 adopted the day before these events at an emergency pace, persons who visited countries with recorded cases of coronavirus are subject to mandatory observation for 14 days.

Some lawyers believe that forced hospitalization is possible only on the basis of the law, of which there are no decisions. Given how it is written out, it can be challenged in court. In addition, there are doubts that the decision has indeed entered into force.

On the one hand, the document has not been published in the Uriyadovyi Courier newspaper, which means it is not yet working.

Related: $675 million needed to fight new coronavirus outbreak, - WHO

“We didn’t receive such a decision and it wasn’t published in today's issue. Perhaps it will come later in the day, and then it will be published later,” the Government Courier told us.

On the other hand, it is already appeared on the government website. Was it placed there before or after the planes landed – is a difficult question.

The authorities appeal that the observation in any case should to be implemented, as citizens were allegedly warned about it. But this is not a legitimate reason for detention. Especially if the passengers did not sign any papers.

However, the signature requirement itself is quite eloquent. If the decree worked before the arrival of Ukrainians, they would hardly be asked to sign something. So it’s more likely that forced observation is illegal. Although it is certainly impossible to say this.

Meanwhile, the returnees created a group in the messenger and are looking for ways out of the situation.

“We made a statement on the plane together with a SkyUp lawyer and a police representative. The lawyer agrees that the Cabinet’s decision is not applicable to us, but can’t help us. The head of the Shevchenkovsky district police also came, everyone wrote a statement for self-isolation, they accepted but there’s no result yet,” says Alex Val.

Police protocols are unlikely to greatly help the evacuated, as they can be considered 24 hours a day.

But the problem is not only in the fact of concluding an observation, but also in the fact that it costs a lot of money.

Bali price observation

Of the two options, paid and free, the Pushcha Congress Hotel is in high demand. Passengers say that all the places there have already been booked. A double room for the time of quarantine will cost 338 euros, regardless of whether it is for one or for two. If the second person shares it, two weeks of quarantine will cost everyone 169 euros. Children under 12 years old can live with adults for free.

As for food, both in free observation and with paid, quarantined must buy food on their own.

According to sanitary standards, housekeeping will be canceled, so there will be no charge for this service.

The hotel has three stars. It has an excellent rating on one of the booking services - 8.8 out of 10. Pushcha Congress is a 10-minute walk from the lake. True, the evacuees will not appreciate it. Data on the living is still different. Someone says that a separate floor will be allocated for the evacuees, someone talks about the building.

It is interesting that, despite quarantine measures, hotel rooms can be safely booked for a time immediately after the departure of the returnees. If you check into the hotel from April 14 to 24, you will need to pay 21 200 hryvnias (757 USD). On dates later, the amount may be about 19 000 hryvnias (678 USD). This is without lunch and dinner, but with room cleaning.

It seems that the state still did not partially compensate the hotel owners for their reception of returnees. However, Krykliy claims that the authorities can still intervene and pay for the stay in the hotel.

In Cozatsky hotel, they don’t demand money from people right now, since the hotel belongs to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

But the conditions of stay are called impossible by evacuated.

“The food there is expensive, it’s cold in the rooms, rusty water flows from the tap. We tried a sandwich, it’s impossible to eat,” Alexei Val reports.

Those who were accommodated in the hotel complained en masse of the cold: there turned out to be 12 degrees of heat. Most of them were not from Kyiv, and they did not have warm clothes. Now, according to reports in the evacuated group, the rooms warmed up a bit. But many, seeing the conditions in Cozatsky, asked for a transfer to the Pushcha

The food here, judging by the evacuated reports, is even more expensive than in a paid hotel. If you eat food from the Khvanchkara restaurant, it will cost about 14 000 hryvnias (500 USD) for the entire duration of the observation. Whether couriers with contactless food delivery will be allowed to come to Cozatsky is unknown.

Observation of citizens at the Ramada Encore hotel is also being discussed now: also not for free, but for 6 600 hryvnias (236 USD). There are no clear figures yet, as the list of hotels is being specified. If the data are correct, it means that the state has nevertheless contributed, since according to the usual price, an overnight stay in a hotel costs more than 2 000 hryvnias (72 USD).

So at whose expense should the observation take place? Since the evecuees themselves are not interested in it, then, theoretically, it should be for the state. Previously, it was. Interestingly, the repatriates in the sanatorium in Novy Sanzhary did not pay for food. The Ministry of Health allocated 2.65 million hryvnias for the maintenance of 72 people. It turns out that the living of one repatriate there cost 36 800 hryvnias (1314 USD), including food. True, the amount could increase due to the stay of Deputy Minister Zoryana Skaletskaya and journalists.

It is significant that the evacuation of Ukrainians from other countries this time turned out to be paid. This happens due to the budget deficit. Citizens said that the average ticket for recent flights cost about 7 000 hryvnias (250 USD).

The issue of cost of observation is not standardized. The Law on the Protection of Population from Infectious Diseases only stipulates that an isolated person has the right (and not the obligation) to receive free treatment. Observation is something else.

In the new decree, the issue of payment for compulsory observation is also not addressed. But lawyers call the decision of the authorities to charge money from Ukrainians dubious. They are afraid to give specific assessments.

How will it end for people?

It is still difficult to predict any consequences, since the lawyers themselves cannot agree on a new ruling. If it is challenged in court, Ukrainians who sat on the plane without food, water and access to the toilet, or were forced to pay for the observation, will be able to compensate moral damage. The state will answer, and law enforcement officers in the framework of the criminal case will have to tell what they were guided by when making such decisions.

In the meantime, some members of the evacuated group write that they still managed to leave home, and the police could not stop them.

Lawyer Yuri Belous emphasizes: in exercising his rights, a person must observe the moral foundations of society and must refrain from such actions that could violate the rights of others.

"A citizen of Ukraine has the right to return to the country and under no circumstances should he or she be restricted in this right. This is stated by the Constitution of Ukraine, as well as the norm of the Law of Ukraine" On the Procedure for Citizens of Ukraine to Exit from Ukraine and Enter Ukraine." The Constitution proclaims that a person, his life and health, are recognized in Ukraine as the highest social value. At the same time, citizens themselves, in addition to rights, have obligations, including the obligation to take care of their health and not harm the health of others. Infected people have the right to free treatment and appeal to the court demanding compensation for damage caused to their health and / or property as a result of violation of the law on protecting the population from infectious diseases. People with an infectious disease must comply with the requirements and recommendations of health workers,” says the lawyer.

Some of those who went to self-isolation say that they will hide for some time in order to avoid a fine. But Bilous emphasizes that the spread of the disease can be punished with a prison term of up to 3 years. And if it led to the death of people – than from 5 to 8 years in prison.

Some repatriates are already reporting that they were offered to pay 14 500 hryvnias (520 USD) to "refuse" from the observation. So far, we do not have data on whether someone agreed to such an offer. Recall that corruption also faces criminal liability.

Is it worth staying on observation or self-isolation – that’s the moral choice of the repatriate himself. You can understand those who are afraid of getting infected from the evacuees, and those who were obligated to undergo observation, although this did not concern previous flights. The problem here is the lack of a unified approach by the authorities and the strict practice of controlling self-isolation. The law should be equal for everyone. If part of the citizens was sent for observation for free, then it is necessary to provide such conditions to the rest.

Let's hope that in the future evacuated Ukrainians will act in accordance with moral standards, and the authorities – according to the letter of the law.

Related: Ukraine’s Covid-19 mortality twice less than anywhere in world, - Healthcare Ministry


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