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COVID-19: Moscow Further Restricts Work and Travel During Mandatory Downtime

April 14, 2020

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Russia has introduced non-work days through 30 April 2020 to keep people at home. The non-work days are mandatory for all employers with limited exemptions. On 2 April, President Vladimir Putin authorized the heads of subjects of the Russian Federation (Russia’s constituencies) to provide further exemptions or stricter rules depending on the epidemiological situation in a particular territory. In this alert we address the most recent restrictions introduced by the Mayor of Moscow, including the introduction of digital passes.

Mayor of Moscow Decrees

In our earlier alert, we addressed certain rules concerning non-work days (or mandatory downtime), including special rules introduced by the Mayor of Moscow’s 4 April Decree, which are mandatory to organizations operating in Moscow. On April 10, the Mayor of Moscow changed these rules by providing further restrictions (10 April Decree).

On April 11, the Mayor of Moscow introduced digital passes for individuals who must travel within Moscow and the Moscow region during the mandatory downtime (11 April Decree). Some of the key changes and new measures are addressed below.

Further Limitations on Moscow Businesses

The 4 April Decree (and its earlier versions) listed specific businesses where work must be suspended. In essence, these are businesses associated with people visiting and gathering (see our recent LawFlash).

The 10 April Decree introduced further limitations: in addition to the already listed businesses, it lists other types of business where visits to premises, buildings, and territories are expressly restricted. Currently, these express restrictions are established for a period from 13 April to 19 April.

Examples of such other types of business include services such as legal, accounting, recruitment, management, and other consulting services; design; realtor services; renting and leasing; scientific research and education (save for a few exemptions); gambling and other services; retail sales, public eating, and catering services (save for a few exemptions); and production activity such as agricultural and farming (other than involved in the spring planting season or so-called “continuously operating enterprises”); manufacturing of clothing, packaging, and paper (other than for the food, pharma, and medical industries), furniture and equipment; repair of cars and equipment; construction of buildings and infrastructure objects; metallurgical, electrics, and optics production; manufacturing of other ready-to-use goods; production of films and video; publishing of sound recordings and music materials; and many others.

These businesses can allow into their offices only personnel involved in (a) building (office) security and maintenance; (b) support of processes that cannot be stopped because of their technological specifics, and (c) payroll (salaries) accounting and payments. Still, these organizations must undertake measures to limit the number of people working in-office as much as possible.

Importantly organizations that continue working in Moscow must ensure compliance with the special rules introduced by the 4 April Decree concerning determination of different categories of the employees and related reporting requirements. Such organizations must also ensure compliance with both all-Russia and Moscow-specific sanitary anti-COVID-19 measures. (See our earlier LawFlash.)

Digital Passes

The 11 April Decree sets out further rules on travel within Moscow, which will be in effect beginning 15 April.

In essence, the prior restrictions on leaving the premises are kept intact but new enforcement mechanisms are added.

Beginning April 15, an individual who needs to leave home to travel for permitted purposes (medical or other emergencies, permitted work, or other limited cases) must have a digital pass. The digital pass must be presented to  law enforcement officers upon request together with the individual's passport.

Employees who need to travel to work (if they work in-office as set out in the 10 April Decree) or on work-related reasons must obtain such passes under the procedure established by the 11 April Decree. Currently, it is set that once issued these passes are valid until 30 April without limitation on the number or routes for travel.

Certain categories of individuals—such as military, state, and municipal officials, including law enforcement forces, advocates, notaries public, journalists, and certain others—are exempted. These individuals do not need to have digital passes but they must carry an official identity card confirming the individual’s belonging to a relevant category.

The above rules apply regardless of whether an individual uses public transportation, rides a taxi, or drives a personal car.

Important Note

If an organization operates in Moscow, it must determine on a case-by-case basis whether the organization can have employees working in-office during the downtime, the rules that apply to such work and the anti-COVID-19 measures that the organization and individuals must comply with. The rules governing work during the downtime are being revised and updated every few days, so it is important to keep abreast of the rules and be ready to modify work regimes accordingly.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts.

CONTACTS

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Moscow-based Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Corporate and Business Transactions
Vasilisa Strizh
Anastasia Dergacheva

Labor and Employment
Bela Pelman