COVID-19: Ongoing Status in Belarus

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published on 25 March 2020 | reading time approx. 2 minutes

 

General information

The first confirmed corona case in Belarus was outlined on 28 February. As of 18 March 2020 according to the public sources the number of people affected by Covid-19 in Belarus reached 51 with no fatal outcomes so far. The cases on recovery from the virus have been reported as well. The information related to the ongoing status and guidelines is being constantly updated on the web-site of the Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Belarus (the “Ministry”). As of now, Belarusian authorities have not introduced whatever significant restrictions or prohibitions connected with the corona case, but merely stick to non-binding recommendations addressed to businesses and private persons. The governmental hot-line for all the corona-related issues is available.
 
In general, the situation is stable. The Government and the President report that the case is under control and no reasons for fear so far.
 

Ongoing restrictions

Belarus remains the only country in the region, which keeps its borders open. The Ministry believes that the closure of the country's borders will not cease the spreading of Covid-19 and the quarantine has not been declared in Belarus. The Ministry calls upon all the persons returning from abroad to limit the number of contacts within the first 14 days after arrival. Upon arrival the visitors are offered to undergo medical testing. In case of alleged respiratory infection, an ambulance shall be called immediately.
 
In addition the Belarusian Government (the Council of Ministers) resolved to cease all the international cultural, sport and scientific events up to 6 April. The national airline Belavia cancelled international flights to 26 countries, while the national railways suspended communication under almost all international routes.
 

Employment issues

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Belarus there has been no special statutory regulation passed so far. The employers are encouraged to follow recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to precautionary measures. In order to mitigate eventual economic consequences, the employers may reduce the needs for personal attendance of workplaces and proceed, inter alia, as follows:

  • to assign employees with home-based/remote office, if the nature of a job allows so;
  • to grant annual leaves where possible.

 

The impact on the economy

As a matter of course, Covid-19 has already affected Belarusian economy. Covid-19 increasingly affects tourism, transport and aviation industries and certain export-led activities. The ongoing situation has already affected the mutual trade with China, being one of the major trade partners. In the meantime, the travel restrictions have not been implemented yet, and thus no decision on the suspension of cargo freight traffic has not been announced as well.
 

What shall I do?

In case the nature of your business allows so, local employees may be assigned to perform their employment duties on a remote basis. Despite the borders are kept open and the ongoing situation is stable, there is no need to expose yourself at a redundant risk and abstain from eventual visits into Belarus. Instead of personal visits, foreign companies operating in Belarus can maintain their business remotely. This in particular refers to participation at general shareholders’ meetings of Belarusian companies (GSM).
 
According to Belarusian laws, the annual GSM requires mandatory personal presence of a shareholder. However, the laws provide for an option to assign a local representative in virtue of the respective Power of Attorney. This can serve as a feasible option instead of personal visits to Belarus, which may be significantly impeded or even impossible.

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