On the 29th November 2020 the Act of 28th October 2020 amending certain laws in connection with counteracting COVID-19 emergencies entered into force. The aim of the Act is to introduce new and modify the existing regulations for preventing crisis situations related to the COVID-19 epidemic. Below we present the most important solutions introduced by the law.
Changes in the public procurement law
The Act stipulates that if there is a high probability of a rapid and uncontrolled spread of the disease or if it is required by public health protection, the provisions of the Act of 29th January 2004 will not apply to contracts for services or supplies necessary to counteract COVID-19. The contracting authority will be required to include information on the award of this contract in the Journal of Public Procurement.
Forbearance of applying laws in the process of design, construction, renovation or demolition
Entities performing therapeutic activities and entities on which an obligation or order to perform a specific task in connection with counteracting an epidemic has been imposed, during the period of declaring an epidemic risk state or a state of epidemic, are able to withdraw from the application of the provisions of the Construction Law Act of 7th July 1994, the Act of 27th March 2003 on spatial planning and land management as well as planning authority acts referred to in this Act, the Act of 23rd July 2003 on the protection and care of monuments, and in the event of a need to expand the base for providing health care services, also the provisions issued under Art. 22 § 3, 4 and 4a of the Act on Medical Activity of 15th April 2011. Waiving the application of the above mentioned Acts concerns the design, construction, reconstruction, renovation, maintenance and demolition of buildings, including the change of use and requires the approval of the provincial governor.
Violation by entrepreneurs of restrictions, orders and prohibitions
Violation by entrepreneurs of restrictions, orders and prohibitions in their business activity established in connection with the occurrence of an epidemic risk state or a state of epidemic is the basis for refusing to grant public aid, in particular from government anti-crisis programmes. If the competent authority identifies an infringement, it shall inform the public aid provider of it. On the other hand, an entrepreneur who will apply for public aid in connection with running a business activity in an area where an epidemic risk state or state of epidemic has been declared will be obliged to make a declaration that he has not violated the restrictions, orders and prohibitions referred to above, under pain of criminal liability for making false declarations.
In case of submitting a false declaration, the entrepreneur will be obliged to return an amount equivalent to the public aid granted, together with statutory interest for delay.
Remote work in quarantine
During the period of declaring an epidemic risk state or state of epidemic, employees and other employed persons who have been subject to mandatory quarantine will be able to perform work specified in the contract remotely and receive remuneration on this account. Pursuant to the regulation, the employee should express the willingness to work remotely, and the employer should consent to it.
A person working in quarantine is not entitled to remuneration for periods of inability to work due to illness as referred to in Article 92 of the Labour Code or sickness benefit as defined in separate regulations.
Isolation treated on an equal footing with inability to work due to illness
According to the provisions of the Act, the inability to work not only as a result of quarantine, but also as a result of isolation at home or isolation referred to in the provisions on the prevention and control of infections and infectious diseases in humans, is treated on an equal footing with inability to work due to illness.
The Good Samaritan Clause
The Act also contains a regulation that exempts the aforementioned entities, in particular doctors who, by providing health services during the period of an epidemic risk state or state of epidemic as part of the diagnosis or treatment of COVID¬19 and acting in special circumstances, have committed a prohibited act from criminal liability. The exemption from liability does not apply where the effect was caused by gross negligence required under the circumstances. The offences covered by the exemption are, in particular, unintentionally causing death, unintentionally causing serious health damage, unintentional exposure to imminent danger of loss of life or serious health damage.