Asia-Pacific: Getting Back to Business in the COVID-19 Era

May 22, 2020

Businesses in the Asia-Pacific region should prepare back-to-work plans while also listening to guidance from health and government authorities as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues.

Here's what you should know about reopening in certain areas.

Malaysia

Content provided by Christopher & Lee Ong

Contact:
Ooi Ju Lien
Partner
+603 2267 2716
ju.lien.ooi@christopherleeong.com

Current national guidance or requirements regarding returning to work

The Malaysian Government implemented a nationwide movement control order (“MCO”) on 18 March 2020, which restricted the movement of persons and required business premises to be closed unless it fell within the category of providing an “essential service”. Following the MCO, a conditional MCO ("CMCO") with more relaxed restrictions was in place from 4 May 2020 to 9 June 2020. On 7 June 2020, the Malaysian Government announced that the MCO will be entering a "recovery phase" with the implementation of the recovery MCO ("RMCO") for the period of 10 June 2020 to 31 August 2020.

The restrictions under the MCO, CMCO and RMCO are imposed pursuant to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and its subsidiary legislation. The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within Infected Local Areas) (No. 7) Regulations 2020 (“Regulations”) are the latest regulations applicable for the RMCO.

Save for prohibited activities under the Regulations, most businesses are now allowed to operate at full capacity, subject to compliance with the standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) issued by the National Security Council (“NSC”), the Ministry of Health (“MOH”) and other regulatory bodies from time to time.

Logistical limits regarding social distancing and size of meetings

Depending on which sector, the applicable SOPs prescribe varying standards and restrictions, such as:

  • restriction on operational hours (e.g. hair salons, beauty salons, bazaar, night markets, and fishery sector);
  • the hours at which customers are allowed at the premises, which are usually shorter than the operational hours;
  • the number of customers allowed at the premises at any one time (e.g. by appointment only)
  • social distancing of one meter, including the marking of such distance on the floor, tables and chairs;
  • the distance between tables (e.g. 2 meters in restaurants) and the number of customers at the same table (e.g. maximum of 4 persons);
  • the implementation of lunch break by stages and by turn in accordance with the suitability of the company;
  • the recording of the personal details of persons entering the premises, such as name and telephone number, either manually or through the MySejahtera application; and
  • the method of payment (e.g. contactless).
Testing requirements (e.g. taking people’s temperatures) or recommendations including employee monitoring
 
Employers are required to ensure that precautionary measures are implemented at the workplace. MOH released the Guidelines on COVID-19 Management (“MOH Guidelines”) which require businesses to: 
  • provide soap, hand sanitisers and surgical masks;
  • implement a "no handshaking" policy;
  • monitor employees for symptoms and encouraging regular temperature checks;
  • obtain travel declaration and travel history; and
  • keep a record of sick leave including reasons for leave, duration of leave and current status.
To assist with screening of employees for COVID-19, the Social Security Organisation ("SOCSO") has also established the Prihatin Screening Programme (“PSP”). Under the PSP, employees can undergo COVID-19 testing free of charge provided that they are registered with SOCSO and making the relevant contributions under the Employees’ Social Security Act 1969. On 13 May 2020, the Ministry of Human Resources ("MOHR") announced that the PSP will be focused on the screening of foreign workers in the construction sector and security services industry with operations in Selangor and Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur only. 
 
Cleaning recommendations or requirements
 
The MOH Guidelines provides that dirty surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, using diluted household bleach solutions or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol is recommended. The relevant SOPs also recommend for businesses:
  • to sanitise the premises, especially common spaces such as the lobby, lift, cafeteria, and toilet, at least 2 to 3 times a day;
  • to use detergent containing sodium hypochlorite in sanitising the premises; and
  • to sanitise vehicles used to transport workers after each use.
Compensation or remuneration issues
 
MOHR has issued various FAQs during this period. The FAQs provide, amongst other things, that full wages have to be paid to employees and the employer may mutually agree with its employees to go on unpaid leave. These FAQs are merely guidance on treatment of employees throughout the MCO and CMCO period and do not have the force of law. Malaysian labour law and general principles and practices remain applicable during this period. 
 
In addition to the above, to assist and encourage employers to retain their workforce, the Malaysian government has offered certain incentives and reliefs, such as the Wage Subsidy Programme and the Employer COVID-19 Assistance Programme
 
Data collection and privacy
 
The SOPs issued by the NSC require certain industries (e.g. food and beverage sector, services sector) and businesses (e.g. restaurants, food courts, hawkers; legal firms; etc) to record attendance of all employees and customers, and to collect their full names, identification numbers, telephone numbers, and body temperature, for each day of business. The SOPs also prescribe the relevant period for such records to be maintained (e.g. 6 months from the end of the CMCO).
 
The MOH Guidelines recommend that all employers across industries keep contact details of all participants and organizers of any indoor meetings or events, in case there is a need to contact them for contact tracing purposes. Records should be kept for at least one month from the date of completion of the event. Employers are also required to keep records of staff sick leave including reasons for leave, duration of leave and current status.
 
On 29 May 2020, the Personal Data Protection Commissioner issued an Advisory on the Procedure for the Handling of Activities relating to the Collection, Processing and Storage of Personal Data by Business Premises during the Conditional Movement Control Order, which outlines the information to be collected from visitors to business premises operating during the CMCO period and the duration that such information may be retained, in accordance with the Personal Data Protection Act 2010.
 
Other important issues
 
Please note that contravention of the Regulations, the SOPs or any direction of the Director General of Health is an offence under the Regulations and is punishable by a fine of up to RM1,000 and/or to imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months. 

On 5 June 2020, the Malaysian Government announced that a COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill (“COVID-19 Bill”) will be drafted to provide temporary relief from contractual responsibilities for a specified period and minimise the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is expected to be tabled and debated in the next Parliament sitting. 

    

New Zealand

Content provided by Russell McVeagh
 
Contact:
Dan Jones
Partner
 
New Zealand adopted a 4 level system in its response to COVID-19. The country is currently at Level 2 (Reduce).
 
Level 2
 
Returning to work
  • All businesses are permitted to be open to the public, including those services which are provided in customers' premises (provided they are meeting public health guidance as set out below).
  • Alternative ways of working are encouraged if at all possible, for example “work from home” or shift-based working and flexible leave arrangements.
  • Use of mass transport and public transport permitted (subject to physical distancing).
Requirements at work
  • 1 metre social distancing from others.
  • Maximum of 10 people permitted at any meeting (the social distancing requirements are subject to change by the Government as we move closer to Level 3 or Level 1).
  • "Close contact services" (such as beauty services) may operate if keeping robust record keeping, good hygiene practices and minimising contact to the extent possible.
Testing
Recommendations by the Ministry of Health:
  • No mandatory requirements for businesses to test employees or customers.
  • All businesses encouraged to maintain registers for contact tracing – businesses required to effectively trace who has been in contact with employees and workplace. Recommendations include:
    • Full name;
    • Residential address;
    • Effective means for communication (eg active phone number or email); and
    • Date and time of arrival and leaving.
  • Employees must stay home if feeling unwell, or have contact with someone feeling unwell.  Further, they must contact HealthLine if they are experiencing cold or flu symptoms.
Cleaning
Recommendations by the Ministry of Health:
  • Encourage regular handwashing and provide sanitisers in contact areas of business premises if possible.
  • Regularly disinfect shared surfaces with antiviral disinfectant, allowing it to sit for at least 10 seconds.
Compensation
  • Employers are not permitted during any level, to decrease employee salaries, or reduce employees' hours, except by agreement with employees.
  • Employers wishing to dismiss employees may only do so on the same basis that they could before COVID-19 (ie appropriate processes must be followed and any applicable redundancy provisions will still apply).  COVID-19 has not given rise to a 'special' ability for employers to dismiss employees.
  • Government wage subsidy available to support employers, including sole traders, impacted by COVID-19, that face laying off staff or reducing hours.

Data Collection and Privacy – The Privacy Act 1993
Collection: Ensure customers and staff are aware you are collecting their information in a register, why you are doing this, and what will happen to their information. Suggested wording and more information is available here.

Use of the information: Only use the information for the same purpose of collection eg if you intend to use the information for mailing purposes, this must be made expressly clear at the time of collection.

Retention and disposal: Only keep the information for as long as is reasonably necessary for the purposes of collection. Public guidelines recommend 4 weeks. 

FUTURE EXPECTED SITUATION IN NEW ZEALAND (Level 1)
https://covid19.govt.nz/assets/resources/tables/COVID-19-alert-levels-detailed.pdf

The following is a summary of what is known thus far of the measures that will be implemented when New Zealand moves to Level 1 (Prepare).

Returning to work

  • All individuals permitted to return to work.

Requirements at work

  • Social distancing encouraged, but not required.
  • No restrictions on gatherings.

Testing
Recommendations by the Ministry of Health:

  • No mandatory requirements for businesses to test employees or customers.
  • Contract tracing encouraged.
  • Employees must stay home if feeling unwell, or have contact with someone feeling unwell.  Further, they must contact HealthLine if they are experiencing cold or flu symptoms.
Cleaning
Businesses encouraged to maintain regular cleaning, sanitising and enforcement. 
 
Compensation
As listed in Level 2.
 
Data Collection and Privacy – The Privacy Act 1993
As listed in Level 2.
 
PAST SITUATION IN NEW ZEALAND
 
To the extent that it is of interest, we have set out the measures that were implemented under Levels 3 (Restrict) and 4 (Lockdown).
 
Level 3
 
Returning to work
  • All "essential businesses", including pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations and banks could remain open to the public.
  • Retail stores and hospitality businesses, such as restaurants and cafes could operate, but customers could not enter the premises; instead, delivery, drive-through or contactless pick up was permitted.
  • Businesses were encouraged to continue operating on a “work from home” basis.
  • Provision of PPE for workers was encouraged.
Requirements at work
  • 1 metre social distancing.
  • Maximum of 10 people permitted any meeting.
Testing
Recommendations by the Ministry of Health:
  • No mandatory requirements for businesses to test employees or customers.
  • All businesses encouraged to maintain registers for contact tracing – businesses required to effectively trace who has been in contact with employees and workplace. Recommendations include:
    • Full name;
    • Residential address;
    • Effective means for communication (eg active phone number or email); and
    • Date and time of arrival and leaving.
  • Employees were required to stay home if feeling unwell, or had contact with someone feeling unwell. Further, they were required to contact HealthLine if they were experiencing cold or flu symptoms.

Cleaning
Recommendations by the Ministry of Health:

  • General cleaning guidelines
  • Encourage regular handwashing and provide sanitiser in contact areas of business premises if possible.
  • Regularly disinfect shared surfaces with antiviral disinfectant, allowing it to sit for at least 10 seconds.
Compensation
As listed in Level 2.

Data Collection and Privacy – The Privacy Act 1993
As listed in Level 2.
 
LEVEL 4  "LOCKDOWN"
 
Returning to work
  • Only "essential businesses" (including pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations and banks) are permitted to be open.
  • Other businesses must operate on a “work from home” basis.
Requirements at work
  • Essential businesses must enforce 1 metre physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and putting up physical barriers where possible. If essential businesses cannot meet these requirements, they cannot operate.
  • All other businesses must operate meetings by distance. 
Testing
Recommendations by the Ministry of Health:
  • No mandatory requirements for businesses to test employees or customers.
  • Employees were required to stay home if feeling unwell, or had contact with someone feeling unwell.  Further, they were required to contact HealthLine if they were experiencing cold or flu symptoms.

Cleaning
Recommendations by the Ministry of Health:

  • General cleaning guidelines
  • Encourage regular handwashing and provide sanitiser in business premises if possible.
  • Regularly disinfect shared surfaces with antiviral disinfectant, allowing it to sit for at least 10 seconds.
Compensation
As listed in Level 2.

Data Collection and Privacy – The Privacy Act 1993
As listed in Level 2.

      

Philippines

Content provided by Morales & Justiniano
 
Contact:
Rafael A. Morales
Managing Partner
 
The Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (“IATF”), the main authority designated by the Philippine Government to respond to issues related to COVID-19, issued IATF Resolution No. 35, providing guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine in the country.
 
On the other hand, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment jointly issued the Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 to assist the private sector conform to minimum health standards and protocols. These guidelines apply to “all workplaces, employers and workers in the private sector.” 
 
Current national guidance or requirements regarding returning to work
 
There are sectors allowed to operate at 100% capacity. These include agriculture, forestry, fisheries, manufacturing of essential goods, hospitals and clinics (non-aesthetic), essential retail (e.g., groceries, markets, drug stores), laundry shops, food preparation and water-refilling (take-out and delivery only), delivery services, utilities, telecommunication companies, gasoline stations, media establishments, electronic commerce companies, postal, courier and delivery services, export-oriented companies, repair of computers and personal and household goods, housing service activities, special purpose accommodation for healthcare workers and workers in permitted sectors, business process outsourcing, banks, money transfer services, microfinance institutions, pawnshops, credit cooperatives and capital markets.
 
Certain establishments can operate at up to 50% operational capacity, while encouraging work from home (“WFH”) and other flexible work arrangements. Included here are other manufacturing industries producing beverages (including alcoholic drinks), electrical machinery, wood products and furniture, non-metallic products, textiles and clothing/wearing apparels, etc.; real estate and leasing; administrative and office support; and legal and accounting services.
 
Not allowed to operate are barbershops and salons, gyms and sports facilities, entertainment and amusement industries, libraries archives, museums, cultural centers, tourist destinations, travel agencies, tour operators, and personal care services (such as massage parlors, sauna, facial care, and waxing).
 
Logistical limits regarding social distancing and size of meetings
 
Companies are generally encouraged to uphold alternative work arrangements such as work-hour shifts and WFH. Prolonged face-to-face interaction of workers with clients, however, are highly discouraged. Management must also rearrange the physical layout of the workplace environment to ensure unidirectional movement in aisles and hallways, in accordance with the general rule of social distancing. Alternatively, online systems are recommended to be utilized in responding to clients needing assistance.
 
Mass gatherings are prohibited. These include movie screenings, concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, religious gatherings, and non-essential work gatherings.
 
Testing requirements (e.g., taking people’s temperatures) or recommendations including employee monitoring
 
Everyone is required to wear masks at all times, as well as accomplish a daily health symptoms questionnaire that will be submitted to the designated safety officer before entry. Daily body temperature must be regularly checked and properly recorded. To ensure that minimum health and safety standards are followed, roving officers are to be employed to instill strict physical distancing of at least one (1) meter, at all times.
 
Companies must have clear protocols concerning the care for and transport of suspected COVID-19 workers to the nearest hospital. Any worker suspected of having COVID-19 is directed to immediately proceed to the designated isolation in the workplace.  For workers sick but not suspected to have COVID-19, they will be directed by their employers to stay home and seek appropriate medical care.
 
A proper COVID-19 hotline for employees to report if they are symptomatic must be set in place. Moreover, employers must submit to the Department of Labor and Employment (with a copy to the Department of Health) a monthly report of illnesses, diseases and injuries of employees. 
 
Cleaning recommendations or requirements
 
Management is mandated to disinfect all equipment, vehicles, operational areas in the workplace. Equipment or vehicles entering the workplace area must likewise regularly go under disinfection processes. Places of contact such as, but not limited to, door knobs, handles are highly recommended to be disinfected once every two hours. All restrooms must have clean water and soap. Hand sanitizer/alcohol for workers along common passageways must also be in place.
 
A thorough decontamination procedure is to be carried out once a worker is suspected to be COVID-19 positive. Workers present in the area of the suspected COVID-19 worker must go through a mandatory 14-day home quarantine while other workers not in the area can only resume work only 24 hours after the workplace has been disinfected.
 
Compensation or remuneration issues
 
As a rule, only workers in the public sector are entitled to hazard pay under Administrative Order No. 26, Series of 2020. However, private sector employers may give hazard pay out of their generosity. Thus, any hazard pay in the private sector is generally discretionary, unless mandated by a collective bargaining agreement or by company policy or practice.
 
Data collection and privacy
 
With the increase of WFH arrangements, the National Privacy Commission issued Bulletin No. 12, which recognizes WFH arrangement as a type of telecommuting. It urged organizations that implement telecommuting as part of its business continuity plan to ensure well-defined security measures including unauthorized access to, and improper disposal of, documents containing personal data, among others.
 
Under the Data Privacy Act of 2012, the government can collect and personal information to respond to national emergency and comply with the requirements of public order and safety.
 
Other important issues
 
“At risk” workers and vulnerable groups (such as those 60 years of age with any pre-existing illness, or those pregnant) are encouraged to arrange WFH set-ups with their employers. However, for those unable to implement a WFH arrangement, employee shuttle services and/or decent accommodation on or near site should be provided by employers to lessen travel and movement. 
 
Main References
 
 
Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Labor and Employment Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19, April 30, 2020 (https://www.dole.gov.ph/php_assets/uploads/2020/05/DTI_and_DOLE_InterimGuidelinesonWorkplacePreventionandControlofCOVID19__3.pdf)
 
Administrative Order No. 26, Series of 2020, March 23, 2020 (https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2020/03/23/administrative-order-no-26-s-2020/)
 
National Privacy Commission Bulletin No. 12, Series of 2020, May 15, 2020 (https://www.privacy.gov.ph/2020/05/npc-phe-bulletin-no-12-protecting-personal-data-in-a-work-from-home-arrangement/)

    

South Korea

Content provided by Kim & Chang
 
Contact:
Pil-Kook Lee
Partner
 
Current national guidance or requirements regarding returning to work
 
There is no national guidance or requirements regarding returning to work because the Korean government has not ordered a general shut-down of businesses due to COVID-19. However, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, the agency coordinating the government’s policies to address the pandemic (the “CDSCHQ”), issued the “Social Distancing Guidelines” which provide recommendations for businesses to follow.
 
As for the timing of returning to work and lifting of quarantine on each employee, please refer to the below information from the Guideline on Prevention of Coronavirus (May 11, 2020 – 8th edition) published by the Ministry of Employment and Labor (the “MOEL”).
 
COVID-19 confirmed employee: 7 days after the onset of COVID-19, quarantine may be lifted and individuals may return to work if he/she tests negative twice in a row within 24 hours.  However, even if quarantine gets lifted this way, employees are still recommended to self-quarantine for 14 days.
 
Employees who have come in contact with a COVID-19 confirmed individual:
  • Employees showing symptoms such as fever, cough, etc. must get tested.  Even if the employee tests negative, he/she must be quarantined for 14 days after contact with the confirmed individual.
  • Employees showing no symptoms are not required to get tested but must be quarantined for 14 days from the initial contact before returning to work.
  • Employees showing no symptoms but living together with a medical professional/student or a confirmed individual must test negative 13 days after his/her last contact with the cohabitant before they can return to work. 
Individuals returning from overseas may return to work after a 14- day quarantine period.
 
As a general note, businesses are advised to have their employees wear masks in the workplace (i) in enclosed spaces such as elevators or indoor multi-use facilities, or (ii) when conducting in-person workshops, trainings, and like activities (https://www.gov.kr/portal/ntnadmNews/2148740?hideurl=N).
 
Logistical limits regarding social distancing and size of meetings
 
Employers are recommended to have their employees keep a safe distance from each other, by keeping two meters or more but a minimum of one meter apart, by adjusting workplace monitors, desks, etc.
 
If a conference is necessary, companies are encouraged to hold a video/phone conference rather than in-person meetings.  If an in-person conference is required, it should be held at a large conference room that can be ventilated.
 
Further, conference attendees should keep a safe distance from each other, by keeping two meters or more but a minimum of one meter apart, and the conference room should be ventilated every hour.  If these recommendations cannot be followed, all attendees should wear masks during the conference (CDSCHQ Social Distancing Guideline (May 3, 2020)).
 
Testing requirements (e.g. taking people’s temperatures) or recommendations including employee monitoring
 
Employers should check the temperature and respiratory conditions of their employees everyday by using non-contact thermometers or thermal imaging cameras.  (CDSCHQ Social Distancing Guideline (May 3, 2020))
 
Cleaning recommendations or requirements
 
Employees
Employees should keep their hands clean with hand sanitizers or soap and water. Further, employees should periodically disinfect their personal belongings at work (e.g., their computer keyboards) and ventilate their work space (CDSCHQ Social Distancing Guideline (May 3, 2020)).
 
Employers
  • Employers should make hand sanitizers/soaps available at the workplace and post notices relating to personal hygiene, such as the need to hand wash, and tips on how to cough in public.
  • Employers should keep the windows open at all times if natural ventilation is possible.  If this is difficult, employers should use air conditioners or other similar methods to ventilate the work place at least twice a day.  In addition, employers should disinfect common areas/objects at least once a day.
  • Employers should provide disinfecting materials for employees (CDSCHQ Social Distancing Guideline (May 3, 2020)).
Compensation or remuneration issues
 
Support Subsidy for Paid Leave
The Korean government will provide a support subsidy for paid leave to an employer that provides required paid leave to an employee who is hospitalized/isolated by the health authorities due to COVID-19.  The amount of this subsidy is a maximum of KRW 130,000 per day. 
 
Employment Maintenance Subsidy
The government will provide an “employment maintenance subsidy” to employers experiencing difficulties due to COVID-19 but who take measures such as suspending their business rather than laying off employees. In principle, this subsidy is available only to employers who meet certain requirements such as decreased sales/production of at least 15% from the same period in previous year (Article 24, Item 1 to 7 of the Employment Insurance Act). However, according to the MOEL, an employer need not meet these requirements to receive the employment maintenance subsidy if the employer is in the tourism, health services, or any other industries that the relevant authorities have recognized as having been adversely impacted by COVID-19.
 
Data collection and privacy
 
Epidemiological Investigation by the Health Authorities:
  • Under Article 18 of the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act (the “IDCP Act”), health authorities must conduct an epidemiological investigation if there is a risk that the pandemic will spread. In order to conduct such investigation, health authorities may obtain such information as the personal information and medical records of patients, place of outbreak, and cause of outbreak (Article 12(1) of the IDCP Act). The recent whereabouts of infected individuals are normally identified through an interview with the individual.  However, if needed, health authorities may check the individual’s GPS, credit card payments, and other items of information (Article 76-2(1) of the IDCP Act and Article 32(2) of the enforcement decree of the same Act). An individual may be punished by a fine of up to KRW 20 million or imprisonment of up to two years if he/she interferes with, avoids, or intentionally omits facts during an epidemiological investigation (Article 79, Item 1 of the IDCP Act).
  • The Minister of the Ministry of Health and Welfare must disclose to the public certain information necessary to prevent the spread of the pandemic, such as the infected individual’s method of transportation and individuals who he/she have come in contact with (Article 34(2) of the IDCP Act).
Disclosure by  Employers
 
The fact of an individual being infected with COVID-19 is considered to be personal information of that individual.  Hence, the employer’s disclosure of such information may constitute a violation of Article 23 of the Personal Information Protection Act, unless (i) the infected employee provides his/her consent, or (ii) there are other legal grounds for the disclosure. However, the employer’s disclosure of such personal information to the health authorities is allowed if it is to cooperate with an epidemiological investigation. 
 
Infectious Disease Act
 
As the 2019 novel coronavirus ("nCoV") outbreak continues unabated, affecting a growing number of countries including Korea, we wanted to share with you some considerations for companies doing business in Korea.
 
Obligation to Prevent Infections in Employees
 
Under the Labor Standards Act ("LSA") and the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act ("Infectious Disease Act"), which are the two general statutes that have applicability to infections in the workplace, there is no general liability for the employer in case of an employee becoming infected with nCoV.  However, the employer is viewed as having an obligation, incidental to the employment relationship, to protect the safety of employees, which includes the obligation to take measures to protect employees from sources of danger within the workplace and to ensure that employees can work in a safe environment.  In particular, the Occupational Safety and Health Act ("OSHA") requires employers to protect the health of employees by prohibiting or limiting from working any employee diagnosed with infectious diseases pursuant to a physician's diagnosis.  If an employee becomes infected with nCoV in the workplace as a result of the company's failure to comply with the employer's obligation to protect employee safety and health, the company may be held liable (civil liability for monetary damages or even criminal liability in some cases).
 
In this connection, we recommend that companies refer to the "Guideline on Measures in the Workplace to Prevent the Spread of Novel Coronavirus" published by the Ministry of Employment and Labor ("MOEL") (updated to version 4 on February 11, 2020; referred to below as the "MOEL Guideline").  The MOEL Guideline prescribes in detail measures recommended to prevent nCoV infections in the workplace and measures to take in the event infection is detected.  In the event of a dispute, the authorities and the courts are likely to look to the MOEL Guideline as a benchmark to determine whether the company has fulfilled its obligation to protect employee safety and health.
 
Responses to Finding a Suspected or Diagnosed Patient in the Workplace
 
Article 12(2) of the Infectious Disease Act requires anyone who finds a suspected patient (i.e. a person suspected of being infected with the pathogen of an infectious disease, but not yet confirmed as being infected) to notify the public health center that has jurisdiction over the site of discovery.  Accordingly, if the company suspects infection in an employee but fails to report to the relevant public health center and other employees or customers are infected with nCoV as a result, the company may be held liable.
 
More specifically, the company is required to take the following measures:
  • If a suspected patient is found in the place of business:
    • According to the latest definition announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention ("KCDC"), a "suspected patient" means any of the following: (i) a person who experiences fever (37.5℃ or above) or respiratory conditions (coughing, sore throat) within 14 days of returning from China, (ii) a person who experiences the aforementioned symptoms within 14 days of coming into close contact with a diagnosed patient while the diagnosed patient was experiencing symptoms, or (iii) a person suspected of being infected with nCoV, pursuant to a physician's medical opinion (e.g. a person who experiences symptoms within 14 days of returning from a country with widespread nCoV infections or a person with pneumonia from unidentified causes).
    • Check whether the suspected patient displays symptoms, require the suspected patient to wear a mask, and immediately notify the public health center with jurisdiction over the company's place of business (or contact the KCDC at 1339).
    • Ensure that the suspected patient and any employees who have come into contact with the suspected patient wait for public health center workers to arrive in a quarantine location within the workplace while wearing protective gear (i.e. masks, disposable sanitary gloves) and not leave the workplace until the public health center's inspection is completed.
    • After the suspected patient is transferred to the public health center, the quarantine location in which the suspected patient was placed should be disinfected using disinfectants such as rubbing alcohol or bleach by individuals wearing protective gear (i.e. masks, disposable sanitary gloves).
    • Employees who have been issued quarantine orders by the health authorities or employees who have come into contact with suspected patients should first notify their supervisor over the phone without going to the office, then go to a hospital or place themselves in self-quarantine.
  • If a confirmed patient is found in the place of business (including among any worker working at the same place of business or any customer who visited the place of business):
    • Immediately notify the fact to all employees in the place of business (including dispatched or subcontracted workers).
    • Cooperate fully with the KCDC's investigation and must also cooperate fully with measures prescribed by the public health center, such as disinfecting the locations visited by the confirmed patient.
    • Comply with the public health center's instructions regarding active monitoring of any employees who were working in a location and time clearly separate from those in the path of movement of the confirmed patient.
  • If an employee has recently visited the greater China region (including Hong Kong and Macao):
    • Even if an employee has recently visited the greater China area, the employee is not a suspected patient nor a case that should be reported unless the employee experiences fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, sore throat).
    • However, the MOEL recommends workers who have recently visited China to refrain from contacting others or engaging in public activity for 14 days after returning from China, and to use vacation days, work from home, or temporarily close the business if possible in order to prevent the spread of infection (The Korean health authorities do not currently recommend individuals who have returned from countries other than China to work from home or use vacation days, but an employee who experiences fever or respiratory symptoms after returning from abroad should be advised to visit a medical institution or designated medical facility and disclose their travel history when receiving treatment). 
    • If the employee has already come in to work, send the employee home, and ensure the employee reports over the phone his/her physical condition and whether the employee is experiencing symptoms. During this process, the employee should be kept apart from other employees, and the employee's path of movement as well as persons the employee has come into contact with must be identified. • Designate an employee to handle nCoV related matters and have this responsible person confirm with the employee their physical condition and whether the employee is experiencing symptoms.  If the employee is determined as a suspected patient or as a case that should be reported, the responsible person must report the employee to the KCDC's nCoV hotline (1339, 02-120) or the public health center with jurisdiction over the company's place of business. 
  • If an employee has recently visited Southeast Asia:
    • The KCDC is advising, as of February 11, 2020, Koreans not to travel to Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, or Taiwan, pursuant to an announcement by the World Health Organization.
    • Even if an employee has recently visited Southeast Asia, the employee is not a suspected patient nor a case that should be reported, unless the employee is suspected by a doctor to have contracted nCoV due to experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, sore throat) or pneumonia of an unknown cause.
    • However, on February 7, 2020, the KCDC recommended that individuals who have recently returned from Southeast Asia refrain from unnecessary public activity for 2 weeks, monitor themselves for fever or respiratory symptoms, and receive treatment in designated medical facilities such as public health centers upon experiencing such symptoms.
    • Recommend that employees not travel to the above countries, in addition to the greater China region, either for business or for personal reasons.
    • If an employee has returned from any one of these countries in the past 14 days, recommend that the employee wear a mask, and ensure that the employee is treated at a designated medical facility such as a public health center as soon as they experience symptoms.
Obligation to Grant Paid Leave/Payment During Temporary Suspension from Work

Article 41-2 of the Infectious Disease Act requires businesses that receive subsidies from the government to grant paid leave to employees for the duration of their hospitalization or quarantine.  The government plans to provide businesses that have granted paid leave to quarantined employees according to the Infectious Disease Act with subsidies, in the amount calculated on the basis of the daily wage per person (maximum KRW 130,000 per day).  Businesses can apply for this subsidy through branches of the National Pension Service starting February 17, 2020.  If the company receives a subsidy for paid leave from the government, the company is obligated to grant paid leave to the relevant employee.

Employers do not have a legal obligation to grant paid leaves to employees who are unable to work due to illness, unless the company's rules of employment or collective bargaining agreement (with the labor union) provides for such requirement.  However, as mentioned above, the MOEL Guideline does recommend that companies grant paid sick leaves even in the absence of such requirement under other rules.  

The MOEL Guideline states that a company must pay employees who are temporary suspended from coming to work if the suspension is based on the business owner's own discretion, but a company is not obligated to do so if suspension is unavoidable, such as due to the government's quarantine order.  However, there is uncertainty regarding the former.  As such, the company should review on a case-by-case basis taking into account the relevant circumstances.

We hope the above is helpful. New developments in the outbreak or changes in the government's guidance may necessitate other measures on the part of companies, so it is important to continue monitoring for related developments.

Government relief for companies impacted by COVID-19 in Korea
 
As in many other countries, there are various forms of financial support and relief available in Korea to companies impacted by COVID-19.  We write to summarize the types of support and relief available.
 
Government Subsidies
There are generally three types of financial support available to companies impacted by COVID-19, as outlined below.
  1. Support Subsidy for Maintaining Employment: Under the Employment Insurance Act, the Ministry of Employment and Labor ("MOEL") provides support for companies meeting certain criteria if they reduce employee work hours or suspend their operations due to unavoidable circumstances such as sudden drops in revenue.  The purpose of the support is to encourage companies to reduce work hours or suspend work rather than lay off workers as they may need to do otherwise.  After the COVID-19 outbreak, the eligibility requirements have been gradually relaxed to make the subsidy available to more companies, regardless of industry.

    As of March 25, 2020, a company is eligible for support if (i) it reduces work hours or its work force by 20% or more in one month or orders its employees to suspend their work for more than one month due to COVID-19, and (ii) pays its employees the necessary business suspension allowance or paid leave allowance.

    These allowances must be paid to employees under the Labor Standard Act in case of business suspension for reasons attributable to the employer.  The Act requires the employer to pay at least 70% of the employee's average wage as business suspension or paid leave allowance. 

    If granted, the support subsidy will be up to 3/4 (for small and medium enterprises ("SME") and certain other companies designated as requiring priority support) or 2/3 (for large companies) of the business suspension allowance or paid leave allowance, as applicable, that the company has paid to a given employee, which amount is capped at KRW 66,000 per day per employee.  The support is available for the period February 1 to July 30, 2020, when the suspension allowance or paid leave allowance was paid. (In case of companies subject to priority support, the government further increased the ceiling to up to 90% for between April to June 2020.)

  2. Support Subsidy for Paid Leave: Under the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, the Ministry of Health and Welfare ("MOHW") provides a support subsidy for paid leave to an employer that provides paid leave to an employee who is hospitalized or in isolation due to COVID-19.  The amount of the daily subsidy, computed according to a formula based on the monthly salary, is capped at KRW 130,000 per day.  However, this subsidy is not available if the affected employee has applied for and receives the living support expenses that the government has made available to employees under the same law who are hospitalized or in isolation due to COVID-19.

  3. General Subsidy for Corporations: The Ministry of Economy and Finance announced on March 24 that it would increase the emergency corporate subsidy fund from KRW 50 trillion to KRW 100 trillion, which will be utilized to provide guarantees or loans for corporations in need of financial support and to stabilize the bond market.  The government will use this fund for various corporate relief measures, as part of the government's "public welfare and financial stabilization package."

    The government has instructed various financial institutions to provide financial support for corporations in various sectors including tourism, air carrier, restaurant and shipping industries as well as other corporations which export/import products.  The government will also expand its support for SMEs by providing government-funded loans and guarantees, while financial institutions will provide extensions of maturity and grace period on interest payments to corporations starting from April 1, 2020.  The government will also purchase corporate bonds and support companies in issuing their P-CBO (primary collateralized bond obligation). 

Other Support
  1. Tax Relief for Taxpayers Impacted by COVID-19: Korea's National Tax Services announced on February 7, 2020, that it would provide national tax relief/support for taxpayers who suffered damages due to COVID-19.  Such relief/support is available to corporate and individual taxpayers engaging in the tourism and hospitality sectors (food and lodging), transportation, concert/performances, medical services (hospitals/medical clinics), and wholesale and retail sales.

    For example, the following taxpayers engaging in one of the business sectors above would be eligible for tax relief/support: an individual who is a confirmed patient or is subject to quarantine, a business with a confirmed case or a workplace where a confirmed case has visited, a business with a workplace located near facilities occupied by Korean returnees from Hubei Province, in China, and an SME transacting with China.

    The national tax relief/support includes an extension on the deadline for filing tax returns, a similar extension on payment of corporate taxes, a postponement on issuing notices to pay delinquency fines and on collecting such fines, the prepayment of tax refunds, and suspension of tax audits.

    In addition to this national tax relief, on February 5, 2020, the Ministry of Interior and Safety requested all municipal governments in Korea to implement local tax relief measures (similar to the above) for taxpayers who suffered damages due to COVID-19.

  2. Compensation of Damages Due to Government Measures: Any person or business that has been adversely affected by government measures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 may file a claim for compensation with the MOHW or the municipal government.  MOHW and the municipal government will compensate the loss in accordance with the decision by the Loss Compensation Review Committee.  Examples of government measures include a mandatory order to close a workplace due to COVID-19 that results in the inability to use relevant facilities, equipment or personnel, and workplace disinfection in accordance with the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.  The MOHW is expected to provide more detailed guidelines on compensation criteria. 

  3. Customs Support: The Customs Service will operate a 24-hour customs support system to expedite the import/export process for companies that experienced import/export delays due to COVID-19.  The Customs Service will also (i) conduct minimum inspection and review of imported/exported goods to expedite customs clearance, (ii) allow extensions on payment of customs duties and payment of customs duties in installments, and (iii) suspend customs audits to support companies during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

    

Sri Lanka

Content provided by Nithya Partners
 
Contact:
DR. ARITTHA R. WIKRAMANAYAKE
PRECEDENT PARTNER
 
Current national guidance or requirement regarding returning to work
 
The Sri Lankan government relaxed a two month long nationwide lockdown from 11th May 2020 onwards, allowing employees in the private and public sectors to return to work. The Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services (“MOH”) issued the interim guidelines titled “Operational Guidelines on Preparedness and Response for COVID-19 Outbreak for Work Settings” on 17th April 2020 (“the Guidelines”).
 
The Guidelines set out the measures to be followed at workplaces and other public and private entities to prevent/control the spread of COVID-19 when returning to work. Further, it provides additional precautions to be adhered to depending on the different categories of workplaces and settings.
 
The Guidelines have advised employers to create a COVID Preparedness Plan, to have a suitable focal point to monitor and control the measures implemented, and to have a specific isolation room in the workplace to isolate those suspected of having the virus. Wearing masks, conducting temperature checks and making provisions for washing and sanitizing hands are also mandated.
 
The Guidelines have specified the categories of people who should not be reporting to work. There are also specific recommendations on cleaning/disinfecting, handling customers, transporting of staff, and handling employees suspected of having the virus etc (vide Sections 3.2 – 3.11).
 
Apart from these general provisions, the Guidelines also provide specific advice pertaining to the manufacturing industry, government and private offices, hospitality industry, restaurants and eateries, supermarkets, public transport, hosting events, economic centres, and universities (vide Section 4).
 
The guidelines for operating Barber & Beauty Salons is provided in the subsequent addendum to the Guidelines dated 8th May 2020. 
 
Logistical limits regarding social distancing and size of meetings
 
The Guidelines have provided specific instructions on restructuring work places. Government and private offices specifically have been advised to maintain a distance of one (01) meter between employees, between work stations and inside staff canteens (vide section 3.5) and in vehicles transporting staff to and from work (vide section 3.6). It has been further advised that government and private offices establish alternate days and flexible working hours (i.e. staggered shifts) so that the social distancing measures can be carried out effectively.
 
With regard to meetings, it is advised that the one (01) meter distance be kept between participants. The Guidelines specifically restrict any large gatherings. It recommends that in-person meetings be avoided as much as possible and to instead adopt alternative communication methods such as video conferencing. For those in-person meetings that are essential, the number of attendees must be minimized and it is recommended that sufficient supplies and materials, including tissues and hand sanitizer for all participants be pre-ordered (vide Section 3.11).
 
Testing requirements (e.g. taking people’s temperatures) or recommendations including employee monitoring
 
The Guidelines require that every employee’s temperature be checked at the entrance to the work place. Any employee with a temperature above 98.4 0F or 37 0C should be re-checked in 10-15 minutes and if positive for a second time, the person should be sent back (vide Section 3.2).
 
If any employee who has reported to work shows a COVID-19 symptom, such employee should be isolated and immediately reported to the designated health officials (vide Section 3.7).   
 
Cleaning recommendations or requirements
 
The Guidelines lay down the general requirements for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. It provides details on the strength of the disinfectants to be used, the specific surfaces which are at a higher risk of exposure which need to be sanitized (including the vehicles transporting staff), and the frequency with which these surfaces need to be sanitized (vide Sections 3.3 and 3.6).
 
The Guidelines also touch on the safety of cleaning staff and the facilities to be provided and the safeguards to be taken by employers with respect to the cleaning staff (vide Section 3.10).
 
Section 4 of the Guidelines, which pertain to special guidelines for specific industries (mentioned above) provide further cleaning recommendations as applicable to these industries. The guidelines for operating Barber & Beauty Salons provided in the subsequent addendum to the Guidelines dated 8th May 2020 also carries further cleaning recommendations as applicable to that industry.
 
Further, the Epidemiology Unity of the MOH has published a set of “Environmental Cleaning Guidelines to be used during the COVID-19 outbreak” dated 15th March 2020 for Hospitals/Medical Centres.  
 
Compensation or remuneration issues
 
State Sector - The government has not taken any decision to vary the existing remuneration schemes of state sector employees. 
 
Private Sector – The government has reached an agreement with the largest Employers Trade Union and the other major Employee Trade Unions to pro-rate wages in respect of employees who cannot be deployed at work simultaneously due to health restrictions. It has been indicated that the government will implement this pro-rated scheme across the entire private sector affected by the COVID-19 related health and mobility restrictions for the months of May and June. Accordingly, a minimum amount of Rs.14,500/- or half of the salary received so far is to be paid for an employee during the closure of the institution.  However, the official direction of the government has not yet been issued.
 
Informal employment sector – The government has introduced a wide spread scheme to grant Rs. 5,000/- per month for all families, whose earning capacity was lost due to lockdown. The eligible families were selected through the regional governmental administrative officers. This scheme is to continue during the months of April and May .  Additionally, all other families who were already in the government social security schemes were also provided an increment to their monthly grants introduced up to Rs. 5,000/- .  
 
Data collection and privacy
 
Surveillance digital data packages such as the DHIS2 tracker for COVID 19   and mobile applications such as MyHealth Sri Lanka have been launched by the MOH, in collaboration with the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) , for monitoring and containment of the virus. 
 
These digital solutions which require the disclosure of personal information by an individual (voluntarily/involuntarily) can however have varying implications for privacy and data protection (despite, for example, the mobile application requiring the user’s consent for external transmission of location data).
 
This is primarily attributable to the fact that whilst there is legislation around electronic transactions and cybercrimes, there is no specific data protection legislation in Sri Lanka to regulate the processing of a citizen’s personal data. That said, a Data Protection Act is currently being drafted by the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology.
 
However, the processing of personal data collected from EU citizens relating to COVID-19 will be subject to strict compliance requirements imposed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  
 

    

Taiwan

Content provided by Russin & Vecchi
 
Contact:
THOMAS H. MCGOWAN
Partner
 
Current national guidance or requirements regarding returning to work
 
There is no specific regulation with respect to returning to work. However, on February 25, 2020, the Taiwan Central Epidemic Command Center (“CECC”) issued the “Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens” (“COVID-19 Special Act”) providing general rules to reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19.
 
Logistical limits regarding social distancing and size of meetings
 
The CECC has advised people:
  • to avoid participating to any events in which persons would come into close contact with others, such as exhibitions, sporting competitions, and concerts, as well as entertainment venues; and
  • to keep physical distance from others of at least 1.5 meters indoors and 1 meter outdoors, provided persons properly wear face masks. 
The CECC also recommended that (i) indoor gatherings participants of which exceed one hundred (100), and (ii) outdoor gatherings participants of which exceed five hundred (500) be cancelled. Also, the CECC provided some indicators to assess relevant risks, such as air ventilation and replacement, distance between participants and duration of the events. Gatherings assessed as having a high risk are recommended to be postponed or cancelled. 
 
Testing requirements (e.g. taking people’s temperatures) or recommendations including employee monitoring
 
Taking people’s temperatures and door access control are recommended by the CECC.
 
Cleaning recommendations or requirements
 
Regularly cleaning and disinfection is recommended by the CECC. 
 
Compensation or remuneration issues
 
The government has provided some compensation and remunerations to industries impacted severely by COVID-19, including, inter alia, wage subsidies, deferred income tax payments, and providing loans with lower rates for businesses to fund working capital.
 
Data collection and privacy
 
There is no specific regulation related to data collection and privacy in this disease period. However, we note that, under the COVID-19 Special Act, where an individual who has been confirmed to be infected by COVID-19 or is subject to isolation or quarantine violates the isolation or quarantine order, in order to prevent spread of COVID-19, the CECC is permitted to record videos or photographs of such person or publicly disclose his/her personal information.
 
Other important issues
 
Except for the above, we do not aware other important issues with respect to returning to work.

    

Vietnam

Content provided by Russin & Vecchi

Contact:
Mai Thi Minh Hang
Partner
+84 24 3825 1700
MTMHang@russinvecchi.com.vn

Current national guidance or requirements regarding returning to work

On April 22, 2020, the Vietnamese Government has suspended its social distancing order allowing most businesses to return to normal operation. On April 24, 2020, the Prime Minister issued Order No. 19/CT-TTg on the continuation of COVID-19 preventions and precautions in the new circumstances (“Order 19/CT-TTg”). Further guidance was issued on May 8, 2020 in Notice No. 177/TB-VPCP by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc following a meeting of the government on COVID-19 precautions and prevention (“Notice 177”). As a result, the following precautions will apply to all cities, unless the local authority determines otherwise (Article 1 of Order 19/CT-TTg and Article 4 of Notice 177):

  • Festivals, religious rituals and non-essential events will continue to be suspended. Sport events and events in which people will gather in a public space are allowed, provided that strict precautions are implemented, including mandatory facemasks and handwashing;
  • Non-essential businesses, except for karaoke and clubs (such as entertainment centers, beauty centers, massage parlors, bars, etc.) may reopen from May 8, 2020, provided that appropriate precautions are implemented, including facemasks and handwashing;
  • Other businesses (such as wholesalers, retailers, lotteries, accommodation services, restaurants, etc.), sports training facilities, heritage and scenery sites may open for business but precautionary measures are required, including but not limited to equipping employees with appropriate equipment, taking body temperatures of all guests, mandatory handwashing and sanitary equipment provided for the guests;
  • Distancing on domestic transportations is no longer strictly required.
  • Students have been allowed to return to school from May 8, 2020. Schools must continue to implement precautionary measures, including disinfection of classrooms and restrooms, strict hand-washing requirements. 
Logistical limits regarding social distancing and size of meetings
 
Cities are categorized into three groups: high risk, medium risk and low risk, each requiring different level of social distancing (Article 3 of Order 19/CT-TTg). All cities are currently assigned to the low risk group  after 31 consecutive days without any new domestic case.
 
High-risk cities must implement strict lockdown in accordance with Order No. 16/CT-TTg dated March 31, 2020 on urgent COVID-19 precautions and preventions (Article 4.a of Order 19/CT-TTg).
 
People are required to stay at home, except for people working in specific government agencies, to purchase of essential supplies or other emergencies.
 
Most businesses must be closed, except for manufacturing factories, constructions of roads, sale of essential supplies, education institutions, banks, treasuries and other supporting businesses, telecommunications, services to support transportation, export and import of goods, healthcare and post-mortem services, provided that employees working in such businesses must strictly comply with COVID-19 precautions, including mandatory facemasks, medical reports, distancing and limiting the businesses to the most essential activities.
 
Public transportation is basically suspended.
 
Medium-risk cities must implement recommended lockdown (Article 4.b of Order 19/CT-TTg) (i.e. people are recommended to stay home; no more than 20 people can gather in a public space outside of work; and 1-meter distancing is required).
 
Low-risk cities do not need to implement lockdown (Article 4.c of Order 19/CT-TTg) (i.e. people are recommended to stay home; no more than 30 people can gather in a public space outside of work; and 1-meter distancing is recommended).
 
Testing requirements (e.g. taking people’s temperatures) or recommendations including employee monitoring
 
See Section 1 above.
 
Cleaning recommendations or requirements
 
See Section 1 above.
 
Compensation or remuneration issues
 
The Government issued Resolution No. 42/NQ-CP dated April 9, 2020 on measures to assist people affected by COVID-19. Accordingly, compensation is provided as follows:
  • An employee who has his/her employment contract suspended or has to take unpaid leave for at least one month because his/her employer does not have adequate funds to pay wages due to COVID-19 will receive VND 1,800,000 (approximately US$ 80 (US$ 1 = VND 23.335)) per month for up to three months from April 1, 2020.
  • An employer who is facing financial difficulties and has paid at least 50% of the mandated suspension allowance for their employees from April to June 2020 may apply for an unsecured loan for up to 50% of total region-based minimum wages of suspended employees over the suspension period (but not exceeding three months) at an interest rate of 0% with a term of up to twelve months. The loan must be used to pay the unpaid wage and must be disbursed monthly to pay the suspended employees.
  • A household business that earns an annual revenue of under VND 100 million (approximately US$ 4,300) per year and has to suspend operations from April 1, 2020 will receive VND 1 million (approximately US$ 45) per month for up to three months depending on the pandemic situation.
  • An employee who has his/her employment contract terminated but is not eligible for unemployment benefit; an employee who does not have an employment contract and is laid off will receive VND 1 million (approximately US$ 45) per month for up to 3 months according to the pandemic situation.
  • A person with meritorious service to the revolution (as defined in Ordinance 26/2005/PL-UBTVQH11 dated June 29, 2005) who is receiving monthly benefits will receive an additional amount of VND 500,000 (approximately US$ 22) per month for three months from April to June 2020.
  • A beneficiary of social protection policies who is receiving monthly benefits will receive an additional amount of VND 500,000 per month for three months from April to June 2020.
  • A poor or near-poor household (as defined in Decision 59/2015/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister dated November 19, 2015) according to the national poverty standards by December 31, 2019 will receive VND 500,000 per person per month for three months from April to June 2020. 
The procedures to apply for such compensations are provided in the Prime Minister’s Decision 15/2020/QD-TTg dated April 24, 2020.
 
Data collection and privacy
 
Normal rules on data protection and privacy apply. The Government will severely punish cases of fake news regarding COVID-19. Of note, spreading fake news regarding the COVID-19 is subject to several administrative violations of up to VND 20,000,000 (Decree 15/2020/ND-CP dated February 3, 2020 on administrative violations against regulations on postal services, telecommunications, radio frequencies, information technology and electronic transactions) (approximately US$ 860). Additionally, depending on the severity of the case, such violations can be subject to criminal charges of up to VND 1 billion (approximately US$ 42,800) or imprisonment of up to 7 years (Article 288 of the Penal Code No. 100/2015/QH13 adopted by the National Assembly on November 27, 2015).