CYIL vol. 12 (2021)

CYIL 12 (2021) RESTRICTING DIPLOMATIC PRIVILEGES IN THE PROTECTION OF PUBLIC HEALTH?… 4. (Im)permissibility of pandemic measures 4.1 States practice and approaches It has to be reminded that the enormous spread of the virus in the late spring of 2020 directed States into an unpleasant situation: they were not prepared and they had to react quickly. Usual crises management plans and strategies had to be redrafted against the earliest absence of scientific knowledge on the new coronavirus’ potential, which did not allow for a reflective consideration. Therefore, many measures were imposed intuitively in a more restrictive way in order to prevent disastrous scenarios. The proportionality and the appropriate threshold were more than hard to be justifiably defined. As the pandemic have evolved, the particular measures have been stepwise refined and also exemptions from measures have been more detailed and specified. China was probably a pioneer in tackling how to accommodate diplomats’ immunities with strict pandemic measures. In its measure, imposed in March 2020, temporarily suspending foreign nationals from the entry to the country, it explicitly excluded the application of such an entry ban to persons holding diplomatic visas. 49 Shortly after and regardless of that, the foreign diplomats were advised by the MFA to stop coming to Beijing. 50 As concerns the entry ban, that many countries have imposed on foreigners, there is a worldwide tendency towards exempting diplomats or holders of diplomatic passports and allowing them free entry. 51 Few countries, however, have required a self-isolation (coupled or alternated with a negative test) upon arrival even from diplomats. 52 The United States practice, for instance, illustrates this approach. In February 2020, shortly after the U.S. President’s proclamation of travel ban that suspended the entry into the country for individuals travelling from China 53 , the State Department ( Office of Foreign Missions ) informed foreign missions 54 that entry suspension is not applicable to individual foreign missions’ members (special visa holders), but simultaneously added that those persons may be medically screened or quarantined, if appropriate. Moreover, with reference to serious public health risk, the Department expected all foreign missions’ members to be identified 49 MFA’s National Immigration Administration Anouncement, published on 26th March 2020, https://www. [29-5-2021]. 50 Cited by Reuters, [29-5- 2021] . With Chinese MFA’s spokeswoman’s words, „ diplomats enjoy immunity but the virus will not grant them immunity “, cited here foreign-diplomats-stay-away-beijing [29-5-2021]. 51 The practice of Australia, Argentina, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Georgia, Indonesia, Moldova, New Zealand, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vietnam, the UK and the EU countries. Based on information provided by MFEA of the Slovak Republic, published in Slovak language here https:// [13-7-2021]. 52 Ibid . For instance Brazil, Iraq, Korea, Lebanon, Thailand, partially Norway, Russia, Gabon on the condition of reciprocity. Information also retrieved from A particular case of Estonian member of the EU mission to Thailand was reported by BangkokPost in July 2020, available here https://www. [13-7-2021]. 53 Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk to Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus , January 31, 2020, available here news/presidential-proclamation-coronavirus.html. 54 Circular Diplomatic Note No. 20-162, State Dpt., Office of Foreign Missions, February 3, 2020, retrieved from [1-6-2021].


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