08 May, 2020
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National Assembly bids farewell to state of emergency and (some) emergency measures

Since the introduction of the state of emergency in Serbia on March 15, 2020, the Government issued a number of decrees restricting certain human rights and freedoms, such as freedom of assembly, and providing novel regulatory framework for functioning of the public sector, economy and judiciary during the state of emergency. While the primary goal of those measures was to protect public health, they also had the broader economic protection of citizens in mind, be it employees, unemployed persons or senior citizens.

 

However, the favorable epidemiological situation in Serbia enabled – and the needs of the economy necessitated – relaxation of certain restrictive measures. Accordingly, the national state of emergency was rescinded on May 6, 2020 by the Decision of the National Assembly, “washing away” also measures previously adopted by the Government.

In particular, at its May 6 session, the National Assembly adopted the Act on Validity of Decrees issued by the Government with Co-signature of the President of the Republic during the State of Emergency and Approved by the National Assembly (“Act”). The Act brought about the cessation of the total of 11 Governmental decrees as of the day of abolition of the state of emergency.

 

First, the Decree on Emergency Measures, which was substantially the most extensive and which prescribed a large number of restrictions, ceased to apply.  Specifically, the Act resulted in the following:

  • Termination of the ban on movement in public places – all citizens will be able to freely move at any time, without age restrictions respecting the proposed physical distance and without public gathering of large numbers of people;
  • Termination of the ban on leaving asylum centers and reception centers, which means that persons accommodated in these facilities will be able to leave them without seeking special approval;
  • Temporary hospitals can no longer be established;
  • Termination of the ban on arrivals to and departures from the airports in Serbia in passenger transport;
  • Reinstatement of international and domestic rail and water traffic, as well as the return of inter-city traffic.

 

Also, in line with the Act, the Decree on the organization of employers’ work processes, according to which employers were obliged to enable employees to work remotely, from home, in shifts, or in any other way that enabled safe work, ceased to be valid.  A new decree regulating the return to work is expected.

 

The Decree on Tax Measures during the state of emergency also ceased to apply, and with it, the rule that tax authorities will not cancel agreements on deferred tax payments as well as the ban on initiating forced collection procedures.

 

Furthermore, as per the Act, appropriations provided for other purposes can no longer be redirected to the current budget reserves without restrictions, as allowed by the Decree on the use of financial resources of the budget of the Republic of Serbia during the state of emergency.

 

The Decree on time limits in court proceedings also ceased to be valid, which means that deadlines “paused” by this Decree continue to run as of the date of abolition of the state of emergency.

 

Another decree that ceased to produce legal effect is the Decree on limiting the retail price of emergency protective equipment, which had limited the retail price of masks and gloves during the state of emergency. The same fate befall the Decree on Specific Technical Requirements, Standards and Application of Medical Devices during the state of emergency, which made it possible to procure, put into use and apply in treatment medical devices which had not been manufactured in accordance with the prescribed standards, provided that the manufacturer or distributor accompanied the medical device with necessary documents.

 

Another decree “retired” by the Act is the Decree on the mode of participation of the accused at the main trial in a criminal proceeding during the state of emergency,  which had allowed the defendant to participate in the main trial in the criminal proceedings through technological means of transmission of sound and image. This means that court proceedings will return to their standard “in-person” procedural framework, but with respect to certain preventive health measures.

 

The Decree on additional borrowing during the state of emergency by taking out loans, issuing government securities on the domestic and international financial markets and providing guarantees of the Republic of Serbia also ceased to apply, as did the Decree on organizing the work of social welfare institutions for the accommodation of beneficiaries and social welfare organizations for the provision of domestic housing services during a state of emergency, which had regulated the special manner and work organization of certain social welfare institutions in COVID-19 cases.

 

Finally, the Act also put to an end the Decree on Documents that must accompany goods in transit during the COVID-19 disease state of emergency, which had allowed businesses to agree on the alternative manner in which the receipt/delivery of goods would be confirmed (by e-mail, SMS, or otherwise).

 

For more information, please contact us via covid19@geciclaw.com.