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PUBLICATIONS \ 18.07.2020

Restrictive measures are gradually being cancelled, and people are returning to their usual way of life. However, with a considerable number of “but”. Tatiana Zvenigorodskaya, Acsour’s Senior Lawyer told us how life will be arranged after the pandemic and what mandatory conditions enterprises have to meet to resume work.

Is it possible for companies to fully operate under restrictions? The answer to this question is definitely no. The flow of clients, and therefore the profit of companies, will significantly decrease. Businesses that work in the service sector and cannot switch to online services – hairdressing, nail salons, gyms, etc. – will obtain the most losses. Hotels, restaurants and fitness centres, in turn, will lose some clients owing to the impossibility to serve everyone at the same time. Adapting to the new conditions of doing business within the limits of restrictions, many restaurants and cafes have already partially switched to contactless delivery of dishes. However, in this case, employees of such businesses suffered, because part of their income consists of tips received when serving clients. Of course, working in this mode is better than bankruptcy. But in an attempt to reduce expenses, many companies have sacrificed their retail areas, as well as part of their personnel. All these factors had a negative impact not only on the services and goods themselves, but also on the business reputation of enterprises.

We can only guess how long it will take for Russian business for completely recover the activities that companies conducted before the crisis.

How will the stores work?

Some types of activities involve company’s employees interacting with clients, such as stores, fitness centres or beauty salons. For these categories of companies, there are already valid government’s decrees and recommendations of the Federal Service for the Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (abbreviated in Russian as “Rospotrebnadzor”). Thus, in a letter dated April 11, 2020, No. 02/6673-2020-32 Rospotrebnadzor divided the companies in accordance with the level of professional risk. Organizations working in the service sector that have direct contact with clients, hairdressing, beauty salons, spas, nail salons, and others were classified as medium professional risk. Employees of this group should, apart from the basic individual protective gear (face mask and gloves), use pajamas, a medical gown, a cap or gauze cap, a gauze and cotton dressing, socks, gloves, slippers or shoes.

At the same time, the personnel of shopping centres and stores, employees of the service sector (other than those belonging to the category of medium professional risk), cultural facilities (exhibition halls, theatres and other where large numbers of people gather), transport and transport junctions, as well as employees of federal executive authorities were classified by Rospotrebnadzor as low professional risk. These organizations should only use face masks and gloves in the course of their activities.

A number of restrictions and recommendations have also been introduced for retail facilities, but they concern more customers than store personnel. For example, customers have to comply with the introduced “face mask” requirement. In the Information from Rospotrebnadzor dated May 20, 2020, the government department explained that stores do not violate the rights of consumers by refusing to allow to enter retail facilities or to serve clients without individual protective gear. At the same time, it is important that store employees should not use physical force or perform other violent actions against clients. Please note: this rule is valid for the period of introduction of the “face mask” requirement in the region (i.e., only if there is a statutory enactment establishing this requirement in the region).

In the letter of Rospotrebnadzor No. 02/7495-2020-32 dated April 21, 2020, the government department advises selling goods only in packaged form, so that customers do not touch the products to weigh them.

As for sellers and other store personnel, it is important that they treat their hands (gloves) with skin antiseptics at least every two hours. At an interval of 2-4 hours, all contact surfaces should be disinfected, in particular, door handles, handles of shopping carts and baskets, counters, conveyors, cash registers, credit card scanning machines.

How will people work in offices?

Many companies have switched office employees to remote employment for the period of self-isolation, while others have suspended their activities at all. By the beginning of summer, the number of contagions with a new coronavirus infection began to decrease, and regions of Russia gradually began to cancel restrictive measures one after another.

Earlier, in March, Rospotrebnadzor published a letter dated March 27, 2020 No. 02/5210-2020-24 “On carrying out disinfectant measures in office premises”, in accordance with which companies that suspended their activities, or organizations that switched employees to remote work, had to carry out a set of disinfectant measures. Cleaning and disinfecting of premises may be carried out either using its own resources or by a cleaning company. In addition, in further recommendations, the government department expanded the list of requirements for businesses that resume their activities.

Despite the fact that employees will return to the disinfected office, they (as well as employers) have to comply with a number of restrictions and rules established by statutory enactments, as well as directly internal regulatory documents of employers, developed on the basis of methodological recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor.

The main rules of working in the office, in accordance with the letter of Rospotrebnadzor No. 02/7376-2020-24 dated April 20, 2020, are:

• measuring the temperature of employees (the employer has the right to suspend employees with high temperature from working in the office);

• airing of premises;

• regular disinfection of surfaces (furniture, door handles, etc.);

• availability of antiseptic medicine in the office;

• availability of an information stand in the office with rules for the prevention of coronavirus.

These recommendations will be in effect until special order of the authorities.

In addition, the territorial entities of the country have the right to set their own requirements and normative standards, and they should also be observed. For example, companies in Moscow have to put special marking on the floor so that employees do not approach each other closer than meter and a half.

As for other requirements, in accordance with another letter of Rospotrebnadzor No. 02/6338-2020-15 “On recommendations for the prevention of coronavirus infection (COVID-19) among employees” dated April 7, 2020, all employees should have individual protective gear at workplaces: face masks (respirators) and gloves. In some regions (for example, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg), companies are also obliged to develop and adopt internal regulatory documents that set a safe operation standard in accordance with government’s decrees.

Therefore, the legislator gave businesses the freedom to choose measures to protect their interests during the pandemic. Using the recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor, business persons can stipulate such provisions in the internal regulatory documents as the frequency of office airing, receiving and sending correspondence by contactless means, restrictions on sending employees on business trips, etc.

How will fitness clubs work?

At the end of May, the methodological recommendations MR 3.1/2.1.0183-20 were published, approved by Rospotrebnadzor on May 22, 2020, for swimming pools and fitness clubs. Apart from the general rules, fitness centres should comply with additional security measures:

• clients can only visit gyms and swimming pools by previous appointment for a certain time;

• the simultaneous number of clients in the gym will depend on the area of the premises: 4 sq. m. per one client;

• it is necessary to keep a distance of 1.5 m. not only between visitors, but also between visitors and employees of the gyms;

• it is recommended to exclude beverages other than bottled water for clients;

• the gym machines should be placed at a minimum distance of 1.5 m. from each other.

Additional operating rules have also been introduced for companies that use swimming pools:

• a part of the changing booths should be closed in order to maintain the proper distance between the clients;

• swimming in the pool is allowed at the rate of not more than one person per 10 sq. m. of an area of the water surface of the pool lane;

• it is possible to conduct group water aerobics classes at the rate of not more than one person per 5 sq. m. of an area of the water surface in the pool.

How will the cinemas work?

There are separate operating rules (Methodological recommendations MR 3.1/2.1.0189-20, approved by Rospotrebnadzor on May 27, 2020) for cinemas. They include the following items:

• employees should wear face masks and gloves (and change disposable face masks every three hours) and then collect and dispose of them in plastic bags;

• in crowded places, the minimum distance between them should be at least 1.5 m.;

• tickets may only be checked contactless;

• the interval between sessions should be at least 30 minutes (for airing the cinema hall and cleaning with disinfecting agents);

• visitors may be allowed to enter the cinema hall at least 15 minutes before the start of the session;

• it is necessary to set the start time of sessions in cinema halls with a difference of at least 15 minutes for cinemas with not more than six halls and at least 10 minutes – with seven or more halls;

• it is necessary to sell tickets so as to the audience, with the exception of the families, keep a distance at least 1 m. from each other;

• 3D glasses may only be made available for the viewer’s use after disinfection;

• it is necessary to disinfect the surfaces for entering information of ticket-issue machines at least once every 15 minutes.

How will the hotels work?

Rospotrebnadzor told us several times about the security measures that hotels should observe. The most interesting for hoteliers are the Methodological recommendations MR 3.1/2.1.0187-2, approved by the government department on May 26, 2020, developed for hotels, in accordance with them, such enterprises will have to:

• ensure social distancing among guests (1.5 – 2 m.) in crowded places, such as at the reception and in the lobby;

• organize individual dining for guests in the rooms or in the restaurant on the menu;

• guests should keep a distance when providing buffet-style dining;

• it is recommended to increase the breakfast time;

• in the restaurant, it is recommended to place tables at a distance of at least two meters from each other, and guests, except families, should be seated one at a table;

• minimize the use of decorative pillows and bedspreads;

• if possible, to introduce a contactless electronic door opening system;

• encourage non-cash payment method, as well as the use of mobile applications when checking in or checking out of the hotel;

• appoint a responsible employee who will monitor compliance with the recommendations by guests, as well as control the personnel.

How will the courts work?

The Judicial Department of the the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation explained what security measures should be observed in courts. “It is recommended to purchase in accordance with the established procedure and use at the entrance to the building (separate premises) of the courts and offices of the Judicial Department, devices for measuring body temperature in a contactless manner, the device for disinfecting hands, bactericidal irradiators (recirculators) of enclosed-type, medical face masks (respirators) and gowns, disposable gloves, and glasses,” – said the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (quoted in TASS). All public premises should be cleaned twice a day, and door handles, switches, and office equipment should be wiped at least once every three hours. “The organization and maintenance of sessions of court should be carried out in compliance with these requirements and taking into account the current situation with the epidemic in the territorial entity of the Russian Federation, recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor and its territorial bodies, age, state of health status of employees and visitors of the courts”, – the statement of the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation said (quoted in TASS).

How will the cafes and restaurants work?

Restaurants and cafes, as well as other companies that work with clients, should comply with general recommendations, such as treating employees’ hands with antiseptic agent, measuring body temperature, and others. However, other additional security measures are provided for public eating places. The rules are set out in the Methodological Recommendaions MR 3.1/2.3.6.0190-20, approved by Rospotrebnadzor on May 30, 2020:

• distance between the tables should be at least meter and a half;

• all employees should be provided with disposable face masks, which should be changed every three hours (if the masks are reusable, then it is necessary to change the filter in it);

• all used face masks should be centrally collected and hermetically packed;

• it is forbidden to use dishes with chips and cracks;

• it is recommended to use modern dishwashers with a disinfecting effect;

• if the dishwasher is out of order, disposable dishes should be used.

How to register the expenditures for disinfection?

All purchased medical face masks, respirators and other protective gear, sanitizers and liquid soap should be reflected in the accounting as part of the MPZ (inventories) on account 10 “Materials”. The cost of dispensers, dryers, thermometers, face masks, respirators, sanitizers registered as MPZ, purchased in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, when transferring to divisions for use, should be written off in other expenses (clauses 13, 16 of PBU 10/99 “Expenses of the organization”).

Tatiana Zvenigorodskaya

Senior lawyer