In view of the current economic situation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and the prolonged period of restrictions, orders and prohibitions imposed on entrepreneurs, the issue of the Act of 28 October 2020 on amending certain laws in connection with counteracting emergencies related to the COVID-19 outbreak (Journal of Laws 2020, item 2112), which entered into force on 29 November 2020 becomes relevant.
Among the provisions of the aforementioned Act, in particular, provisions were enacted which criminalise the infringement by entrepreneurs of restrictions, orders and prohibitions in the scope of their business activity, established in connection with the occurrence of an epidemic emergency or a state of epidemics.
Art. 23 of the so-called "Good Samaritan Act" . According to the provision of Art. 23 of the Act, violation by entrepreneurs of restrictions, orders and prohibitions in business activities established in connection with the occurrence of an epidemic emergency or epidemic state and issued under Art. 46a and 46b points 1-6 and 8-12 of the Act on Preventing and Combating Infectious Diseases and Infectious Diseases in Human Beings, is the basis for refusing to grant public aid, in particular from government anti-crisis programmes.
Infringements of restrictions, orders and prohibitions may relate, for example, to a temporary restriction of a certain manner of movement, a temporary restriction of certain areas of business activity, a ban on organizing shows and other public gatherings, an obligation to perform certain sanitary procedures if their performance is connected with the operation of certain production, service, commercial or other facilities, or an order or prohibition to stay in certain places and facilities and in certain areas.
Consequences of infringement of restrictions, orders and prohibitions by entrepreneurs. If the competent authority identifies that an infringement has taken place, it shall inform the provider of public aid of the finding. On the other hand, an entrepreneur who will apply for public aid in connection with the conduct of economic activity in an area where an epidemic risk state or a state of epidemic has been declared, will be obliged to submit a declaration that he has not infringed the restrictions, orders and prohibitions referred to above, under pain of criminal liability for making false declarations. In the 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.
Interpretation doubts. The regulation described above rises many doubts and controversies, in particular as regards the scope of restrictions, orders and prohibitions, the breach of which by an entrepreneur will constitute grounds for refusal to grant public aid, and the conceptual scope of the used phrase "infringement", which may refer to a state established by a legally valid proceeding or a factual circumstance. The advocate for Small and Medium Enterprises asked the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development, Labour and Technology to clarify the above doubts. Despite the expiry of the statutory deadline for responding, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister as well as the Minister of Development, Labour and Technology have so far failed to take a position on Art. 23 of the so-called " Good Samaritan Act. "