1. Regulations on measures to prevent and control the Covid-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic broke out globally, affecting nearly 2 million people, killing over 126,000 people in 210 countries (Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ dated 15 April 2020) and territories and showing no sign of ending. In Vietnam, the number of infected cases increases rapidly day by day at a high risk of infection in the community. It is predicted that the pandemic will spread on a large scale, seriously threatening human life and health and the country’s socio-economic scenarios. In furtherance of the call of the General Secretary and President – Nguyen Phu Trong and in the spirit of attaching great importance to human health and life in order to continue to proactively prevent and control the pandemic, the Prime Minister issued documents instructing ministries, ministerial-level agencies, governmental agencies and the People’s Committees of centralized provinces and cities to focus on implementing the pandemic prevention and control measures, complying with the instructions of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control, and effectively implementing the following urgent measures:
2. Resolving the benefit regimes for employees during work suspension due to Covid-19 pandemic
In order to implement the regime of paying employees salaries and other benefits during their work suspension due to Covid-19 pandemic in accordance with the labour law, the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs issued Official Letter 1064/LDTBXH-QHLDTL on 25 March 2020 for the Departments of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs to guide enterprises in their local provinces to implement:
- Suspension pay must be based on Article 98 of the Labour Code to consider the causes of work suspension (due to the employer’s or employee’s fault or an objective reason).
- For employees who are suspended due to direct impacts of Covid-19 pandemic such as foreign employees who are not yet allowed to return to work, employees who are suspended from work during quarantine, etc., the suspension pay will be provided in accordance with Article 98.3 of the Labour Code (the pay will be agreed upon by both parties but must not be smaller than the area minimum wages).
- Where enterprises cannot provide adequate employment due to supply shortage or market stagnation, employers may temporarily reassign employees differently from their employment contracts in accordance with Article 31 of the Labour Code; in case any prolonged work suspension impacts on the payment by enterprises, employers and employees may reach an agreement on suspension of the employment contracts in accordance with Article 32 of the Labour Code; enterprises that narrow down their production and downsize staff positions must comply with Article 38 or Article 44 of the Labour Code.
- For other arising cases, the Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs will deal with in accordance with laws depending on the facts and specific situations.
On 09 April 2020, according to Resolution 42/NQ-CP of the Government on measures to support residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, an employee will be supported for a period of less than 03 months from 01 April 2020. Specifically as follows:
- Employees working under the labour contract must agree to suspend its performance, take unpaid leave for 01 month or more due to difficulties caused to enterprises by the pandemic while enterprises neither gain turnover nor seek financial source to pay the subsidy of VND 1.8 million /capita/month
- An employee who terminates his/her labour/employment contract, but is not eligible for unemployment benefit; has no labour contract will be entitled to a subsidy of VND 1,000,000/month.
- Employees will be entitled to send an application for enjoying unemployment benefits by post, notify their monthly employment in indirect forms such as e-mail, fax, etc. from 01 April 2020 until the date of epidemic termination announcement without certification of the town/ward/commune-level People’s Committee on the epidemic outbreak.
3. Criminal handling related to the prevention and control of Covid-19 pandemic
In order to contribute to preventing the increasingly complicated developments of Covid-19 pandemic, the Council of Justices of the Supreme People’s Court issued Official Letter 45/TANDTC-PC on 30 March 2020 on hearing offences against the regulations on prevention and control of Covid-19 pandemic.
Accordingly, the guidelines for determining a number of offences according to the Criminal Code are as follows:
- When a person who has been informed that he/she is a confirmed case of Covid-19 infection; a person is suspected of Covid-19 infection or returns from a Covid-19 epidemic site and is requested to conduct quarantine commits one of the following actions: breaking out of the quarantine area; failure to comply with quarantine regulations; refusing or avoiding quarantine or enforcement of quarantine; failure to make health declaration or making dishonest or insufficient health declaration and subsequently transmits Covid-19 virus to another person, he/she will face a charge of “spreading dangerous infectious diseases to other humans” according to Article 240.1.c. of the Criminal Code.
- When a person who is not a confirmed case of Covid-19 infection and lives in an area that has been put into quarantine or lockdown under an official decision commits one of the following actions: breaking out of the area being put under quarantine or lockdown; failure to comply with quarantine regulations; refusing or avoiding quarantine or enforcement of quarantine; failure to make health declaration or making dishonest or insufficient health declaration and subsequently causes a loss of VND 100,000,000 or more in terms of epidemic control and prevention expenses, he/she will face a charge of “violation against the law on safety in crowded areas” according to Article 295 of the Criminal Code.
- The owner/manager of a service establishment (bar, dance club, karaoke club, massage parlor, beauty salon, etc.) who continues its operation after a competent authority or person has issued a decision on business suspension for the prevention and control of Covid-19 epidemic and causes a loss of 100.000.000 or more in terms of epidemic control and prevention expenses will face a charge of “violation against the law on safety in crowded areas” according to Article 295 of the Criminal Code.
- A person who posts false/untrue/distorted information about Covid-19 epidemic situation on a computer network or telecommunications network and causes negative reactions will face a charge of “illegal provision or use of information on computer networks or telecommunications networks” according to Article 288 of the Criminal Code.
- A person who is not allowed to publish personal information, private secrets, resulting in gravely humiliating the honour and dignity of any health worker, participant in the prevention and control of Covid-19 epidemic, confirmed case, suspected case of Covid-19 infection will face a charge of “insulting another person” according to Article 155 of the Criminal Code.
- A person who takes advantage of Covid-19 pandemic to provide false information about the effects of a drug or medical device related to the prevention and control of epidemic to appropriate another person’s property will face a charge of “appropriating property by fraud” in Article 174 of the Criminal Code.
- A person who is caught moving or is found to have moved drugs and medical supplies serving the prevention and control of Covid-19 epidemic out of Vietnam’s border for an improper gain will face a charge of “smuggling” according to Article 188 of the Criminal Code.
- A person who takes advantage of the scarcity or fakes scarcity during Covid-19 pandemic to buy in large quantities the goods subject to a price stabilization program as announced by the competent state authority or the goods priced by the State in order to re-sell for illegal profits will face a charge of “hoarding” according to Article 196 of the Criminal Code.
- A person who uses violence or threat of violence or otherwise obstruct a law enforcement officer performing his/her Covid-19 epidemic controlling tasks will face a charge of “resisting a law enforcement officer during performance of his/her official duties” according to Article 330 of the Criminal Code.
- A person who takes responsibility for Covid-19 epidemic prevention and control but fails to implement or implement epidemic prevention and control measures in an insufficient and untimely fashion and causes serious consequence will face a charge for “negligence resulting in serious consequences” according to Article 360 of the Criminal Code.
Those who commit one of the said acts, depending on the seriousness of their violations, will be strictly punished in form of fines, community sentence or suspended imprisonment sentence. Besides the primary punishments, the court will consider imposing additional punishments and judicial measures as prescribed in the Criminal Code.
Later, on 03 April 2020, the Supreme People’s Procuracy issued Directive 03/CT-VKSTC on strengthening the exercise of the right to prosecute, control judicial activities in handling crimes related to the prevention and control of Covid-19 epidemic. Accordingly, the Head of the Supreme People’s Procuracy requests the Heads of the units affiliated to the Supreme People’s Procuracy to coordinate with the investigating bodies and courts of the same level to detect and promptly handle and strictly punish the offenses related to the prevention and control of Covid-19 epidemic such as failing to strictly abide by the regulations on epidemic prevention and control, which spread the epidemic to the community; violating regulations in crowded places, causing any damage of VND 100,000,000 or more in terms of the cost of prevention and control of Covid-19 epidemic; making false or untrue information about epidemics causing confusion, anxiety in society or acting for the purpose of opposing the State; taking advantage of the epidemic situation to commit illegal acts for self-seeking purposes, etc. These crimes should be quickly handled and conducted according to simplified procedures (if possible).