On 8th of April 2020, the Ethiopian Council of Ministers has promulgated Proclamation No. 3/2020 “A State of Emergency Proclamation Enacted to Counter and Control the Spread of COVID-19 and Mitigate Its Impact”, which will last for five months. The House of Peoples’ Representatives of Ethiopia has discussed on the declaration of state of emergency in its session held on April 10th 2020 and approved it as Proclamation No. 1189/2020, which is published on Negarit Gazetta as of April 16th 2020.
The provision of Article 4(1) of Proclamation No. 3/2020 has empowered, the Council of Ministers to issue Regulations which, “stipulate details of the suspension of rights and measures to be adopted to counter and mitigate the humanitarian, social, economic and political damage that could be caused by the pandemic”.
Accordingly, the Council of Ministers has issued a Council of Ministers Regulation No. 466/2020, "State of Emergency Proclamation No. 3/2020 Implementation Regulation", which contains 6 provisions that are aimed at detailing the "prohibited activities" and "duties imposed". In this legal brief some of the prohibited activities and imposed duties that have legal implications on private businesses are highlighted. The full version of the Regulation No. 466/2020 is attached hereunder.
It is prohibited for any lessor of residential or commercial property to evict a lessee or increase rent without the consent of the lessee (Article 5 (18) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
It is prohibited for organizations covered by Labour Proclamation No 1156/2019 to terminate employment contracts except in accordance with the protocol established by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Article 5 (19) of Regulation No. 466/2020). So far, no such protocol is enacted by the Ministry.
It is prohibited to resign from, delay the work of or in any way obstruct the functioning of institutions which provides basic services such as electric, water, and telecom utility companies; medical institutions, banks; enterprises related with the supply of food, provision of sanitary services, fire and emergency services, security and intelligence services (Article 5 (25) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
Similarly, it is prohibited to stop, obstruct or suspend the transportation of liquid or dry cargo, construction, manufacturing and agricultural activities (Article 5 (26) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
Any public or private service provider should provide sanitary materials useful for preventing the spread of the virus and ensure that customers are taking the necessary precautionary measures (Article 6 (8) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
Any public or private service provider should mark spots where customers could stand maintaining a two adult stride distance (Article 6 (9) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
All federal or regional public or private organizations shall use various mediums to make accessible to their employees information regarding COVID-19; provide at least water and soap for washing hands at their gates and to the extent possible other materials useful to prevent the spread of the virus (Article 6 (11) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
All federal or regional, public or private organizations shall ensure that employees working in one room or place of work or using a common transportation means will not be forced to be confined conditions that make it impossible to maintain social distance and towards this end shall allow employees to work in shifts or to work from home or take paid leave (Article 6 (12) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
All Federal or Regional public organizations and private organizations which administer employees based on Labour Proclamation No 1156/2019 shall provide appropriate transportation for employees when such transportation service is necessary (Article 6 (13) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
The owner of any house, hotel, apartment, vehicle, or any other property shall avail to the government such property if the Ministerial Committee or an entity delegated for this task by the Committee determines that the property is necessary in the effort to counter and control the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impact, unless the property is needed by the owner for his daily use (Article 6 (15) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
Any service provider or manufacturer shall comply with the instruction of the Ministerial Committee or an entity delegated for this task to provide a service, expand its service, manufacture a new kind of product, increase the production of an item or sell at a reasonable price to the government, cooperatives or consumer associations any product that is necessary in the effort to counter and control the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impact (Article 6 (16) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
Hotels, restaurants and cafes shall provide water and soap to their customers and ensure that their customers have washed their hands and carried out the necessary sanitary precautions and should disinfect tables, chairs and other goods that have been used by patrons (Article 6 (17) of Regulation No. 466/2020).
Finally, any private organization or any person who fails to observe any of the above prohibited activities or imposed duties, will be liable for criminal liability that is provided under Article 6 of Proclamation No. 3/2020. Article 6 (1) of Proclamation No. 3/2020 states that “Notwithstanding the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code, any person who violates the suspension of rights, measures, an instruction or command issued in accordance with this Proclamation shall be punished with simple imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine of no less that one thousand Birr and not exceeding two hundred thousand Birr”. Source: Millionlegal services.