CYIL vol. 12 (2021)
michaela sýkorová CYIL 12 (2021) as requiring medical screening upon arrival and thus prevented them from entering if they lacked a will to comply with those measures. This pragmatic approach, without any particular reference to the Vienna Convention rules, has been more or less maintained through the year 55 , encouraging foreign missions to the same teleworking regime as the Department itself has employed, and advising them to follow guidance for travel and mask-wearing in public places, issued by respective U.S. authorities, as well as discouraging in-person meeting and visits of the State Department premises. 56 A European country example is thoroughly given by Belgium, a receiving State to many missions and permanent representations and hosting a number of EU’s institutions. One of the first measures, taken in March 2020, that ordered inter alia the closure of all non-essential companies and imposed the teleworking instead, already excluded diplomatic missions and international institutions from the mandatory closure, listed them among crucial sector establishments and services. 57 On the other hand, in all other measures such as interdiction of certain activities, social distancing, travel bans and curfew, any reference to mission or diplomats is missing. 58 The MFA Protocol ( The Protocol Directorate of the Foreign Public Service Foreign Affairs ) has generally recalled that, without prejudice for their privileges and immunities, all persons enjoying those have a duty to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State, in particular the measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19. 59 In the same time, based on the update in May 2021, it enumerates on its official website all the responsibilities and duties that have to be followed by diplomatic and international staff, including mandatory quarantine, filling forms and testing upon arrival, restriction of non- essential travels, prohibition of receptions and banquets involving a public attendance, curfew during specified time, social distancing rules, and wearing a mask in public places. 60 Certain restrictions have also been imposed against the physical presence at a workplace, setting teleworking as a rule. What is noteworthy, however, words like “urging”, “encouraging” or “strongly recommended” are employed rather than a strict mandatory language. Burden of restrictions goes further, if missions employ a local staff. In that case, for instance, missions have to declare, on a monthly basis, to the Belgian authorities, that such employees perform a function incompatible with teleworking. Interestingly, although members of diplomatic 55 Later notes on travel bans does not refer to medical screening nor quarantining of diplomats. See ibid, Diplomatic Note No. 21-680 of May 4, 2021, related to travellers from India. 56 Ibid , Letter of Director of OFM dated of March 23, 2020, and Diplomatic Notes No. 20-1341 of September 14, 2020, No. 21-89 of January 25, 2021, No. 21-129 of January 27, 2021, No. 21-212 of February 12, 2021. Notes use a committing rather than abiding language, such as „should“ and missions have been invited to acknowledge a „initiative“ of wearing a face covering. Visits the OFM premises has been conditioned by temperature screening and screening questions. 57 Ministerial Decree of March 23, 2020 ( Arreté ministériel portant des mesures d’urgences pour limiter la propagation du coronavirus COVID-19, 23 Mars 2020 ) Articles 2, 3 and Annex; „ Les dispositions de l‘article 2 ne sont pas d‘application aux entreprises des secteurs cruciaux et aux services essentiels visés a l‘annexe au présent arręté. Ces entreprises et services sont toutefois tenus de mettre en oeuvre, dans la mesure du possible, le systeme de télétravail a domicile et les régles de distanciation sociale.“ Cited http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi/article_body. pl?language=fr&pub_date=2020-03-23&caller=summary&numac=2020030347 [28-5-2021] English comment given here https://www.monardlaw.be/home/-/asset_publisher/3dwqclltn4yx/content/covid-19-measures-in- belgium-implications-for-diplomatic-missions-and-international-organizations/maximized [28-5-2021]. 58 Ibid, see Articles 5 and following. 59 https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en/services/protocol/covid-19 [28-5-2021; information updated on 6th May 2021]. 60 Ibid. With a note, that fines amounts for non-compliance have been increased and that the Protocol will not condone any infringements.
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