6 octubre 2021

Easing covid-19 restrictions could threaten with a surge of new cases. Published on

Relaxing restrictions in events and gatherings, and opening up businesses to the public should not be based on a partial or total lifting of protective measures but rather on their reinforcement. As a matter of fact, Executive Order No. 678/2021 (January 10, 2021), effective as from October 1, makes preceding rules more flexible, but still keeps prevention on a red alert, mainly delegating decision-making power to impose restrictions to provincial authorities. To some extent, the Recitals of the EO are clearer than the text, which seems to be pointing to some kind of ending to this plague, and a slowly but surely return to the New Normal.

It is widely known that core countries that have made the same mistake of easing lockdown measures too soon, they had to face a new surge of cases of quite massive proportions with the Delta variant, like England, Germany or France, and even Israel or Chile.

Article by Julián A. de Diego published on on October 5, 2021

In fact, the upcoming mid-term elections have tempted the National Government to relax restrictions, with the sinister idea that easing lockdown may boost their positive image when actually the stakes are too high, compromising protected rights under our legal system, such as people’s life, health, physical integrity. 

Curiously enough, some surveys show that across the country citizens in general, and workers in particular, for a variety of reasons, are fully aware of the importance of prevention and wear masks or face coverings, keep social distancing, wash their hands regularly and sanitize elements.

Along this line, in Italy an Executive Order was issued on September 20, 2021, whereby all workers are required to have a “Green Pass” or Covid Certificate indicating that they have at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine or have recently recovered from the virus. If employees do not agree to get vaccinated, they should get tested –and receive a negative test result- every two days and the “Green Pass” will contain this information. 

The COVID vaccine mandate is quite new in Europe and one of the strictest measures in the world. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are among the few countries where vaccination is mandatory for all citizens over 18.

For instance, in the US vaccination is mandatory for civil servants and workers at big corporations. In Argentina, as we have explained before, our preventive labor laws state that workers should get vaccinated for solidarity reasons based on the principles of mutual collaboration, good faith, and safety and health prevention at the workplace.

The truth is that right now it is imperative to harmonize  –as much as possible-Executive Orders issued as a result of delegated legislation, international treaties in particular about human rights, labor laws, collective bargaining agreements, rules and regulations, protocols in different sectors and capacity limits. In this context it is worth mentioning that prevention measures are still vital to forestall the virus from spreading and as a result, limit the impact on people’s health and related effects, especially mortality.

As to the return to the workplace, all protected groups are going back to work on site, with some few exceptions. Actually, those high-risk employees who needed to stay at home are returning to normal, except for those who give proof that they are covered by subsections V and VI of Section 3 of Resolution No. 627 by the Department of Health in March 19, 2020, as amended, for a period of time that cannot exceed thirty (30) days and may be renewed if they have good reason to stay off work. 

“People at increased risk for severe illness” means those with compromised immune systems (Congenital, functional or anatomic asplenia (including sickle cell anemia), and severe malnutrition, HIV depending on the state (CD4 350 or detectable viral load), those who take immunosuppressive medication or corticosteroids in high doses (greater than 2 mg/kg/day of methylprednisolone or more than 20 mg/day or its equivalent for more than 14 days), cancer and transplant patients (oncohematologic disease patients, up to six months after complete remission, solid organ tumor under treatment or solid organ transplant or bone marrow transplant).

If so, employees shall get paid a non-salary amount equal to their regular pay net of social security contributions.  

Employees and employers alike shall continue to pay contributions on the regular taxable income for Social Health Care and the Institute of Social Services for Retirees and Pensioners.

All in all, it is up to organizations at every level, unions, companies, NGOs and each individual to keep on observing prevention measures until it can be confirmed that our country and our region are free from Coronavirus and any of its variants.

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