Special Quarantine Regime and State of Emergency – Comparative Analysis

Special Quarantine Regime and State of Emergency – Comparative Analysis

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global issue and the fight against it is being conducted at the global level, in the form of various regimes (state of emergency, quarantines, etc.) announced by variety of affected countries.

Sharaf Mammadova (Asgarova) is partner at EKVITA

Gulchin Mammadova is a junior lawyer at EKVITA

Azerbaijan has stepped up a number of restrictive measures by introducing a special quarantine regime (“SQR”) to tackle the pandemic and prevent its spread within the country. While SQR is introduced for the first time in Azerbaijan, it is worthwhile to mention that in the course of year 1992 and 1995, the state of emergency was repeatedly declared in certain regions of Azerbaijan. In 1993 the state of emergency was declared on the whole territory of the Republic for the period of 60 days.

Due to increasing number of questions with regards to the similarities and differences of two regimes, we have prepared a comparative table to illustrate these.

State of Emergency as per law

Special Quarantine Regime as per decree of Operational Headquarter

А. Differences

Introduced by Presidential Decree (with approval of Milli Majlis within 24 hrs), based on Article 112 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan (“Constitution”)

Introduced by a decree of Operational Headquarter under Cabinet of Ministers, based on Article 25 of the Law On Sanitary-Epidemiological Safety (“Law”)

Curfews allowed

Curfews are not allowed, but the place of residence can be left on the basis of special permits only

Verification of identity documents of citizens, their personal belongings and apartments;

Verification of documents in case of leaving the place of residence only

In exceptional situations, involving the population in compulsory labor and using their vehicles

Such measures are not applied

Providing affected persons with accommodation, compensation, employment assistance and other necessary assistance

Such measures are not applied although partial reliefs for employers are considered (tax, partial salary reimbursements, etc.)

Definition of a special regime for the acquisition, sale and distribution of consumer goods and food

Food and consumer goods are distributed in the usual manner, but their purchase and sale is carried out within the time limit, set by the government

Appointment of a commandant in the territory where the regime applies

Such measures are not applied

Mobilization of resources of legal entities regardless of ownership with subsequent compensation

Such measures are not applied

Informing the UN Secretary General about the introduction and completion of the state of emergency

Such measures are not applied

Temporary eviction of the population from dangerous areas to safe areas with the provision of temporary housing

Such measures are not applied

Such measures are not applied

Sanitary control at checkpoints of the state border

Is funded from the state budget

Is funded by the Coronavirus Fund to Support Fight Against Coronavirus, which consists of budgetary and extra-budgetary funds

Duration is up to 60 days and may be extended for other 60 days

Initially set for 28 days and prolonged (no time limit provisions in legislation)

Such measures are not applied

Country borders shutdown

B. Similarities

Introduced in order to protect the life and health of the population

May provide for a temporary restriction of the rights and freedoms of citizens

Special regime of movement, as well as restriction of freedom of movement

Restriction of movement of vehicles and their verification

Use of forces and means of relevant executive bodies

Temporary isolation of people, if there is reason to assume the danger of the spread of infectious diseases by them

Holding liable in case of violation of the rules of the regimes

Introduction of a special labor regime

Considering all the above, SQR is in its legal nature similar to a state of emergency, but with much less scrutiny. The spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country was initially considered as a sanitary-epidemiological situation.

Although the Law does not give a clear definition of the concept of a special quarantine regime, the announcement of a special regime on relevant regions of the country in case of a threat of the spread of infectious diseases has its own legislative basis (art. 25 of the Law).

In fact, there is no clear restrictive measures in the framework of such a regime have been established in the law. Declared throughout the country, the SQR is regulated on the basis of Decisions of Cabinet of Ministers (“CabMin”), the Operational Headquarters under CabMin and Presidential Decrees that can be interpreted as "the preparation and adoption of laws, other regulatory acts on issues of sanitary-epidemiological health of the population of Republic of Azerbaijan (art. 4 of the Law - Powers of the highest state authorities and administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the field of ensuring sanitary and epidemiological health of the population).

Article 4 of the Law sets among the powers of these bodies inter alia the establishment and cancellation of special educational, traffic, transport and labor regimes on the territory of Azerbaijan aimed at preventing the spread and elimination of infectious diseases among the population, what can justify restrictions on movement, suspension of educational institutions, state and other enterprises, departments and organizations, etc. within SQR.

Having said this, restriction of constitutional human rights and freedoms is possible only in cases expressly provided for in Constitution (art. 112 of Constitutional Law on Regulation of the implementation of human rights and freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan). Quarantine, as a measure of restricting the movement of citizens, is provided for in the Constitution as part of a state of emergency. Constitution also establishes the conditions under which a state of emergency is declared, among which the fact of the onset of the epidemic is listed. World Health Organization calls the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, and, accordingly, in our country this phenomenon has received a similar name.

Based on all of the above, SQR creates all the necessary legal conditions to regulate the current situation in the country without the need to declare a state of emergency, which was repeatedly noted in the speeches of government officials.

How countries worldwide combat against covid-19?

The heads of neighboring states, for example, Kazakhstan and Georgia, declared a state of emergency on their territory, with very similar restrictive measures to SQR. Russia went according to a different scenario and various restrictive measures were introduced on the territory of the state, such as a self-isolation regime, an emergency regime, a high alert regime and quarantine, depending on the prevalence of the disease in a particular region. In Georgia, from 21:00 to 6:00 a curfew was announced. A movement via special SMS permission system is not provided in any of the above states.

As the pandemic curve declines, the countries move to shift or lift strict quarantine measures. Per the Decree of CabMin, SQR has been prolonged although softened as of 4 May 2020, with a number of limitations lifted partially in main cities and largely in other regions of the country.

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