New Measures Introduced to Curb the Spread of COVID-19 – Protection, but also Rights Limitation: A Legal Analysis
As a commissioner of the Croatian Parliament for the promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms laid down in the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Croatia and the international human rights instruments ratified by the Republic of Croatia as well as the national equality body, following citizens’ complaints she has been receiving regarding the measures introduced in the Republic of Croatia to curb the spread of the pandemic and notwithstanding any future Constitutional Court decisions regarding those measures, the Ombudswoman points to the following:
Measures to Curb the Spread of COVID-19
On 11 March 2020, the Ministry of Health adopted the Decision Declaring the Epidemic of the COVID-19 Disease Caused by the Virus SARS-Cov-2. Since then, a number of measures have been adopted aimed at the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and its suppression, some of which were met with a more or less intense resistance from a certain number of citizens and with the frequent questioning of their appropriateness, effectiveness and even of their constitutionality.[i] This was the case with the measures on the obligatory use of facemasks, on the limitations on the freedom of movement and assembly and on the introduction of the obligatory use of COVID certificates or negative test results for SARS-CoV-2 for the employees in the health care and the social welfare sectors.
The decisions issued by the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the Headquarters) on 28 September 2021 introducing the obligatory use of the COVID certificates for the employees in the health care and the social welfare sectors and the obligatory use of the COVID certificates or of the other acceptable document for the some groups of patients starting from 4 October 2021 were some of the most recent such measures.
Additionally, the coming into force as of 15 November and the application as of 16 November 2021 has been announced of the decisions on the obligatory use of the COVID certificate as a precondition for the access to the workplace for all civil servants and employees, all employees in the public services and the bodies of the regional and local self-government units as well as the employees of the companies and institutions established by the Republic of Croatia, by public administration bodies or by the regional/local self-government units. COVID certificates are set to be obligatory for all of the citizens entering the premises of those institutions and companies as well.
The introduction of these measures has once again triggered discussions on whether some of the epidemiological measures, i.e. rendering the ability of the citizens to exercise some of their rights conditional upon the possession of COVID certificates, limits the citizens’ human rights and exposes some of them to discrimination. Moreover, it opens up the question of whether COVID certificates are equally accessible to everyone and whether the citizens who don not fulfill the conditions to be issued with one are subject to discrimination.
Ultimately, making the access to a wide range of institutions, state authorities, bodies of the regional and local self-government units etc. conditional upon the possession of COVID certificates opens up the question of proportionality between the limitations imposed on the citizens’ rights and the objectives set to be achieved by the measures.[ii]
It needs to me emphasized, however, that the persons who cannot obtain a COVID certificate are not a homogenous group, neither when it comes to the reasons preventing them from obtaining it nor the consequences of such a situation. Thus, it is not possible to reach a generalized conclusion on whether or not they are being discriminated against. In that sense, it is necessary to undertake a thorough legal analysis of the various possible situations, taking into account the area of life, i.e. the right or service the access to which is being affected, while also considering the possible discrimination grounds at play, i.e. which group of citizens is being affected. Sometimes the answer to the question depends on the circumstances of the individual case. It also remains to be seen how the announced decision on the use of COVID certificates will be implemented in the public administration and the public services as well as in the other areas of public life, should their use be expanded, and whether the citizens’ individual circumstances will be taken into account.
When discussing potential discrimination, obligatory use of COVID certificates often gets unjustifiably equated with obligatory vaccination. However, this is grounded neither in law nor in the headquarters’ decisions, taking into account the fact that in the Republic of Croatia vaccination is only one of the three possible avenues for fulfilling the conditions to be issued with a COVID certificate. Furthermore, the immunization against COVID-19 is not obligatory as yet. Although the citizens are being encouraged to get vaccinated as this is the most effective way of combatting the disease and reducing the pressure on the health care system, immunization is not a sole precondition for the realization of any of the citizens’ rights.
Finally, depending on the percentage of the vaccinated population, the epidemiological situation and the hospitalization rates, the possibility of the introduction of the “2G” principle is being discussed.[iii] Unlike the “3G” principle granting the access to COVID certificates and, thus, to a wide range of goods and services, on the basis of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test, “2G” excludes testing as one of the grounds for acquiring the certificate. Although the possible introduction of the “2G” principle will not take place before 4 January 2022, its potential negative effects on specific groups of citizens and the possible avenues of preventing them should already be considered.
Normative Framework and Potential Impacts of the Introduction of COVID Certificates on Citizens’ Rights
On 4 October 2021 three decisions[iv] came into force, based on the Act on the Protection of the Population from Communicable Diseases (Official Gazette No. 0/07-134/20; hereinafter: APPCD):
- the Decision Introducing the Special Safety Measure of Obligatory Testing of All Employees of all Health Care Institutions, Companies Providing Health Care Services and the Employees of the Private Health Care Facilities for the Presence of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus (Official Gazette No. 105/2021)
- the Decision Introducing the Special Safety Measure Obligatory for All Heath Care Institutions, Companies Providing Health Care Services and the Employees of the Private Health Care Facilities When Admitting Patients (Official Gazette No. 105/2021)
- the Decision Introducing Obligatory Testing for all Employees in the Social Welfare System for the Presence of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus (Official Gazette No. 105/2021)
The implementation of the aforementioned decisions, which do not have a temporal limitation, is to be monitored by Civil Protection Headquarters of all regional and local self-government units in the Republic of Croatia. The first and the last decision imply obligatory testing for the employees in the health care[v] and the social welfare[vi] systems at least twice within seven-day periods as a precondition of accessing their work places, with the exception of those who have been vaccinated of have recovered from COVID-19, unless they are exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory infection, other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or have a positive epidemiological medical history. The decisions are to be implemented by the employers. The employees must present a COVID certificate or other acceptable document to be able to access their work place. Failure to do so will result in being denied access to the employer’s premises.
The second decision is to be implemented by health care providers and introduces the obligation of all patients being admitted into health care facilities to present a COVID certificate or other acceptable proof of vaccination, recovery or testing,[vii] with the exception of emergency patients, those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, primary care patients, those whose delayed admission would cause a deterioration of their health (the latter are being admitted, isolated, tested for SARS-CoV-2 and, in case of testing positive, provided with health care in isolation from the other patients), persons accompanying underage patients, persons accompanying adults unable to move around safely without assistance due to an underlying health condition, children under 12 coming in with a patient who could not be left home alone, as well as children under 12 visiting hospitalized parents/carers, or siblings.
The decisions in question affect both the right to health care of the citizens coming as patients to the health care facilities as well as the right to work of the employees within the health care and the social welfare systems.
The announced expansion of the use of COVID certificates to the employees in the public administration and the public service sectors as well as to the citizens entering their premises will affect an even wider number of persons and their rights.[viii] Thus, the experience gained so far in the implementation of the existing decisions ought to be used to better pave the ground for the implementation of the new ones. Experience has shown that it is important to inform the citizens in a timely manner about the aims to be achieved by the measure, its planned manner of implementation, possible exceptions as well as the consequences in cases of its breaches, both when it comes to employees as well as the citizens using the services of the institutions in question.
Citizens’ Right to Health Care
Following the introduction of the measures on the use of COVID certificates in the health care and the social welfare sectors there has been a lot of talk in the media about the employees’ concerns. At the same time, the patients and the beneficiaries of these institutions, primarily the former, fear that they will be prevented from accessing timely and effective health care and that, consequently, their health and possibly event their lives might be put at risk. All of this has led to a debate on whether allowing the access to health care facilities only to those with COVID certificates or other acceptable documents would result in limiting their right to health care.
From the beginning of the pandemic, the health care system has been facing various challenges affecting the citizens’ access to all levels of health care. Hospitals have focused a large part of their capacities on the care for COVID-19 and non-COVID emergency patients, which has resulted in a standstill when it comes to the regular medical procedures and in the lengthening of the waiting lists. A significant number of citizens have submitted complaints to the Ombudswoman claiming their health has deteriorated considerably due to delays in the provision of the health care services. Thus, it is understandable that they are questioning the limitations on the right of patients to timely and effective medical assistance, which is badly needed by some of them after a period of delaying preventative and other non-emergency procedures.
On the other hand, some of the patients’ ill health requires increasing the levels of their protection from SARS-CoV-2, which can be transmitted to them by the health care staff as well as other patients or visitors. The same level of caution is necessary in the social welfare system as well.
Within this context, it needs to be underscored that the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia guarantees to everyone the right to health care, whereas under the Health Care Act everyone has the right to the highest level of health, while at the same time protecting their own health and that of the others. In the pandemic of a communicable disease, the importance of individual responsibility is even greater as this is a necessary precondition for the prevention of the spread of the disease within the community. It is crucial to step up social responsibility based on the principle of solidarity.
At the same time, the introduction of special protection measures must not interfere with the exercise of the right to health care nor discourage the citizens from seeking medical assistance. Thus, we consider it positive that the above mentioned Headquarters’ decisions recognize other acceptable proof of being COVID-free alongside COVID certificates, thus enabling a wider access to health care and social welfare than would be possible if only certificates were accepted.
“Other acceptable proof” pertains to four categories of persons: those who recovered from COVID-19 diagnosed with the BAT test within the last 9 months, those with family members diagnosed with COVID they were in contact with (who had not been tested themselves and are now treated as “probable cases”), those diagnosed with COVID using the PCR test more than 6 but less than 9 months ago, as well as those who recovered from COVID-19 and were diagnosed using the PCR or the BAT test or were “probable cases”, were vaccinated with the first dose within 8 months from recovering, and no more than 9 months has passed since their vaccination. Belonging to any of these four categories is proven by a certificate issued by a primary care physician on the basis of the BAT or PCR test results, medical documentation or vaccination certificate, depending on the category.
Additionally, one of the decisions regulates the right to health care of the patients without the proof of vaccination, recovery or testing and without other acceptable proof. In cases when delaying the provision of health care would result in damage to their health, they will be admitted but also isolated from other patients and tested. Special safety measures also apply to the persons accompanying the patients unable to move around safely on their own due to a pre-existing health condition, emergency and primary care patients, as well as patients with suspected or proven COVID-19 disease. Thus, we can conclude that the purpose of the measures was to step up the protection of health within the health care system, both of the patients as well as of the visitors and the employees while at the same time ensuring the citizens’ access to health care.
The conditions for the access to health care and social welfare facilities are graded with the aim of taking into account the proportionality of the limitations introduced by the measures and the professed aim – the protection of the health of the most vulnerable citizens and the prevention of the spread of the disease.
At the same time, the effects of the measure on the access to health care of the most underprivileged citizens as well as those unable to get vaccinated due to their ill health need to be taken into account as well and free testing for these groups of citizens provided if necessary.
The Health Care and Social Welfare Sectors’ Employees’ Right to Work
The introduction of the use of COVID certificates in the health care and the social welfare sectors raised the employees’ concerns and was followed in the course of the next few days by protests in front of several health care facilities and in the social welfare system.
Exercising their right to public assembly[ix], these persons, joined by supporters, pointed to the reasons for their dissatisfaction with the measures, stressing the need for the assessment of their efficiency as well as the purported excessive encroachment on the rights of the measures’ addressees.
According to the media, some of the employees in the health care and the social welfare systems have already been sanctioned for resisting the implementation of the measures – their contracts have been terminated or are in the process of termination as a consequence of their refusal to get tested even though they do not possess COVID certificates and are, thus, not allowed to access their work places.
Several requests for the constitutional review have been submitted so far related to the use of COVID certificated in the health care and the social welfare sectors. In reaching its decisions, the Constitutional Court will analyze the proportionality of the measures in question as well as the degree to which they fulfill their stated aim. As mentioned above, these are not the first such requests. The Constitutional court is likely to reach its decision at the end of the year or at the beginning of 2022.
Potential Unfavorable Effects of the Use of COVID Certificates on Certain Categories of Citizens
Without prejudice to the future Constitutional Court decision regarding the constitutionality of the measures, with a view of explaining the anti-discrimination legislation in force in the Republic of Croatia and taking into account the fact that not every instance of differential treatment or treatment that an individual considers unfair constitutes discrimination, it is important to stress that behaviors that do constitute discrimination are defined by the Anti-discrimination Act (Official Gazette No. 85/08 and 112/12; hereinafter: the ADA). The ADA bans any treatment based on one or more grounds listed in Article1 Paragraph1 of the Act whereby a person is, has been, or could be placed in a less favorable position than other persons in a comparable situation, as well as placing a person in a less favorable position on the grounds listed in the Act in relation to other persons in a comparable situation on the basis of an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice, unless such a provision, criterion or practice can be objectively justified by a legitimate goal and the means to achieve that goal are appropriate and necessary.
The ADA provides for exceptions as well. In line with Article 9 Paragraph 2 Item 1 , the placing in a less favorable position shall not be deemed to be discrimination when such a conduct is set forth by law with the aim to preserve health, public safety and the rights and freedoms of others, on the condition that the means used are deemed appropriate in a democratic society and necessary for the realization of the aim and purpose for which they have been introduced and that they do not result in direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, skin color, religion, sex, national or social origin, sexual orientation or disability.
Thus, without determining a causal connection between unequal treatment and one or more discrimination grounds as set forth by the ADA discrimination cannot be established. Even if an individual has a good reason to believe that the enforcement of the epidemiological measures has led to them being treated unfavorably and that, consequently, they are being denied access to certain services or rights, it does not necessarily equal discrimination, unless the unfavorable treatment is motivated by the discrimination grounds set forth in the ADA.
In the context of these as well as other announced measures mandating the use of COVID certificates, a specific, albeit a small, group of citizens must be taken into account – those who cannot get vaccinated due to health reasons.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is not the only avenue for obtaining a COVID certificate. It can also be obtained based on a negative PCR or a rapid antigen (BAT) test[x] as well as on the basis of recovering from COVID-19, in which case the certificate can be obtained starting on the 11th day from the first positive PCR test result[xi]. However, although vaccination is only one of the three available manners of obtaining the certificate, the citizens who cannot get vaccinated and did not recover from COVID are left only with testing.
The position of the persons who cannot get vaccinated and are simultaneously in an unfavorable financial situation is even more challenging, since they cannot cover the cost of the testing, which, in case they live in a remote area, can also include transportation costs. Thus, it is necessary to provide these individuals with both physically and financially available testing, so that they would not be subject to discrimination based on their health and/or financial status.
Furthermore, as evidenced by the complaints we received, for certain groups of citizens testing can be the only avenue of acquiring a COVID certificate. This is the case for those who were diagnosed with COVID based on the then available BAT test and not PCR, or were contacts of COVID patients but were not required to get tested themselves. Due to the application of various sets of criteria both when it comes to the diagnosing of the disease, the issuing of the self-isolation measure as well as the issuing of the COVID certificates, some of the citizens claim they are now experiencing difficulties when attempting to acquire the certificate. Consequently, some of them are worried that they will lose access to the rights the realization of which now depends on the possession of the COVID certificate.
Although the application of uneven criteria can, to a certain extent, be justified by the specific situation in the periods when the numbers of the diagnosed patients were high, by the intense circulation of the virus in the population and the need to quickly diagnose and isolate as many of the suspected cases as possible, it is clear that some of the citizens now suffer the consequences of this situation.
The above-mentioned problem is not limited to the Republic of Croatia. The EU Ombudsman has received inquiries from several member states regarding the implementation of the Directive 2021/953 and the problems with the issuing of COVID certificates to the persons whose infection with SARS-COV2 was established using BAT tests. The EU Ombudsman requested the relevant data from the European Commission on, among other topics, whether the Commission has issued any instructions for such situations[xii]. The EU Ombudsman’s proceedings following this inquiry are still underway and the Ombudswoman Šimonović Einwalter is following the progression of the case.
However, as mentioned above, the only avenue for exercising the rights currently tied to the use of COVID certificates for the persons who, due to their health condition, cannot get vaccinated and have not been diagnosed with COVID or were but do not have an acceptable proof for it, is testing. Thus, it should be physically and financially available to them, especially when it comes to those who are not able to cover the cost of testing due to their unfavorable financial situation.
Announcements of New Measures and Their Potential Impact on Human Rights
On 15 November the decision is set to enter into force with the planned beginning of application as of 16 November 2021 on the obligatory use of COVID certificates as a precondition for the access to the workplace for all civil servants and employees, all employees in the public services and the bodies of the regional and local self-government units as well as the employees of the companies and institutions established by the Republic of Croatia, by public administration bodies or by the regional/local self-government units. COVID certificates will be obligatory for all of the citizens entering the premises of those institutions and companies as well. i.e. a COVID certificate or a negative test result will be required for entering courts, the tax administration agency, social welfare centers, registrars’ offices, etc.
It remains to be seen how the application of the decision will be regulated. It is concerning, however, that, even with the announced one-day delay of its implementation, the period between the announcement of the new measures and the start of their application is too short.
Taking into account the scope of the areas of activity covered by the public administration and the public services, it is clear that the new decision will have a much stronger impact on the citizens’ rights than those adopted so far. The right to access to justice, for example, entails the right to have one’s interests represented in the court of law and court sessions mostly take place in person. When it comes to social welfare, the beneficiaries often visit the social welfare centers in person as they find it to be the simplest, and sometimes the only, way accessible to them, to discuss their rights with the centers’ employees.
These are only a few examples of the situations where the exercise of one’s rights requires a physical visit to a body or an institution, which will now require the possession of a COVID certificate. At the same time, it is likely that the testing costs for the citizens who do not have one at the beginning of the decision’s implementation will be borne by those citizens themselves. On the other hand, some of them will certainly not be able to pay for those costs (or will only be able to do so with great difficulty), which makes it unclear whether they will be able, then, to exercise the aforementioned rights.
Additionally, it is unclear as yet how the testing will be organized for the public administration and public services’ employees who do not possess a COVID certificate. The schools themselves have 67 555[xiii] employees and, although the exact number of those who will have to undergo regular testing is still unknown, it is clear that this will require a significant amount of engagement from the Ministry of Education, school principals as well as the employees, while at the same time it will be important to ensure that the implementation of this measure does not produce negative effects as far as uninterrupted and regular instruction and the right to education are concerned.
As can be seen in the past few days, the introduction of the wider implementation of the COVID certificates has led to an increased interest of the citizens for vaccination. However, long lines in front of vaccination locations indicate that the response of the competent authorities has been inadequate. Maximum efforts need to be invested into enabling all of those interested in getting vaccinated to do so, in line with the continuous public calls to receive vaccination as the most effective method in the fight against the pandemic.
It also needs to be kept in mind that a COVID certificate cannot be obtained immediately after the vaccination, i.e. citizens who receive their vaccinations just prior to the new decision coming into force will have to keep getting tested until they get issued their certificates. Taking into account the number of people receiving their first vaccine shot since the announcement of the new measure, the number of the citizens needing to get tested to enter the premises of the public administration bodies and the public services is expected to be significant.
Thus, the introduction of an appropriate transitional period between the introduction and the full implementation of the measure ought to be considered.
Furthermore, when introducing the measures with a broader scope, the specific needs of particular social groups must be taken into account, i.e. the needs of those who can neither receive the vaccine due to a health condition, nor can afford the testing. They must be provided with the physically and financially available testing throughout the period in which the exercise of their rights depends on negative COVID test results.
At least during the transitional period free testing needs to be provided for the citizens who, due to their financial situation, cannot afford to cover its costs themselves but have the need to visit the premises of the public administration bodies and/or public services in order to be granted certain rights. Otherwise, socially vulnerable groups might be denied the opportunity to exercise the rights the access to which depends on physically visiting the premises of the competent public bodies and institutions, which would, then, lead to a deterioration of their already unfavorable living conditions.
In line with all that has been said so far and in order to avoid similar confusion in the future, the methods of prevention of the possible discriminatory effects and human rights violations as a consequence of the implementation of the announced “2G” model need to be defined in a timely manner. Unlike the current “3G” model, the “2G” one excludes testing as one of the avenues for acquiring a COVID certificate. In the event of its introduction, the persons who cannot get vaccinated due to a preexisting condition nor have been diagnosed with COVID would not be able to acquire a COVID certificate at all, which would result in unmeasurable violations of their rights. Thus, exceptions for them need to be foreseen.
Compulsory immunization against SARS-CoV-2 virus has been the subject of public debate as well. Compulsory immunization in the general sense is already foreseen by the Act on the Protection of the Population from Communicable Diseases as one of the special measures for the prevention and the suppression of certain communicable diseases.
In the case of Vavřička and Others v. the Czech Republic[xiv][xv] the European Court of Human Rights ruled that compulsory vaccinations of children in the Czech Republic represent an interference with the right to respect for private life but do not, however, amount to a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights regulating the right to the respect of private life.
Although this ruling, reached amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, adds to the legal arguments in favor of compulsory vaccination and in its assessment the Court asserts “the value of social solidarity, the purpose of the duty being to protect the health of all members of society, particularly those who are especially vulnerable with respect to certain diseases and on whose behalf the remainder of the population is asked to assume a minimum risk in the form of vaccination”, it still leaves it to the members states to freely regulate their own vaccination policies and does not pertain to the vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
However, the Republic of Croatia is not, at least for the time being, planning to introduce compulsory vaccination for neither the entire population nor specific groups of citizens and has opted for a more lenient approach. Along with the prior adequate explanation of the reasons for the introduction of such a method and broad consultations with all relevant stakeholders, the introduction of compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 would require normative interventions as well as the regulation of the exceptions pertaining to the citizens who cannot get vaccinated due to health reasons.
In conclusion, various information has been appearing in the public space in the past several weeks regarding the measures the introduction of which is being discussed as a possible response to the currently high numbers of the persons infected with the SARS-COV2 and as a means of prevention or at least a reduction in the numbers of deaths caused by COVID-19. At the same time, the information is changing very quickly and some of the measures being discussed could have a quite limiting impact on the citizens’ human rights and freedoms, both of which produces anxiety for some of the citizens. This is reflected in the complaints a number of the citizens submitted to the Ombudswoman regarding the introduction of the new measures related to the COVID certificates. The citizens’ concerns are additionally amplified by the fact that as late as several days prior to the implementation of the certificates in the public sector no concrete instructions have been issued for either its employees or the citizens using its services. Thus, it is crucial to make available timely, comprehensive and clear information regarding every epidemic decision and measure that affects the citizens’ rights and freedoms. This is the only avenue for building the public trust in their appropriateness and achieving their effective implementation.
[i] Some of the other Headquarters’ decisions have already been subject to the constitutionality review. This was the case with the Decision on the Necessary Measure of Obligatory Use of Face-masks or Medical Face-masks During the COVID-19 Epidemic, the Decision on the Organization of Public Transport During the COVID-19 Epidemic, the Decision on Limiting Social Gatherings, Retail, Services, Sporting and Cultural Events, the Decision on the Organization of Funerals, the Decision on the Measure Strictly Limiting Gathering in the Streets and Other Public Places, the Decision on the Ban on Leaving One’s Permanent Residence in the Republic of Croatia, the Decision on the Temporary Ban on Crossing the Borders of the Republic of Croatia, the Decision on the Working Hours and the Organization of Retail During the COVID-19 Epidemic, the Decision on Aid Measures for the Media Industry and the Media Professionals During the COVID-19 Epidemic.
[ii] In its decisions on the constitutionality of the measures adopted so far, the Constitutional Court has underscored that in a situation threating the lives and the health of all citizens, such as that caused by the epidemic/pandemic of COVID-19, the states (the competent authorities) must take the measures, within the scope of their authority, necessary to protect the lives and health of the citizens. In such situations the public interest, i.e. the protection of the lives and the health of the citizens, takes precedence over the individual rights and the citizens have the obligation to implement the measures adopted by the competent authorities with the aim of protecting the lives and health of the entire population. (Constitutional Court Decision No. U-I-263/2021 of 8 June 2021)
[iii] The “2G” method is already being implemented in Austria and its adoption has been announced in some parts of Germany.
[iv] These decisions were adopted in the form of safety measures. Safety measures can be adopted by the Minister of Health following a suggestion by the Croatian Institute for Public Health (CIPH) or by the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters, the Minister of Health and the CIPH jointly.
[v] Obligatory testing of all employees of all health care facilities, companies providing medical services and employees in the private health care sector.
[vi] Obligatory testing of all employees in the social welfare system, i.e. in the social welfare institutions as well as religious communities and other legal persons, persons with registered crafts and natural persons providing services in the area of social welfare.
[vii] The Decision applies to:
– the patients who are about to be hospitalized, the patients undergoing diagnostic and/or therapeutic procedures that generate aerosol in a hospital or a specialist medical facility
– the patients in need of medical care, if the assessed risk of the virus transmission is high
– the individuals accompanying persons giving birth
– the parents/carers sharing accommodation with their hospitalized children
– the persons accompanying patients or visiting hospitalized patients.
[viii] Such as the right to work, the right to access to justice, the right to free legal aid, rights in the social welfare system, etc.
[ix] Numerous international human rights instruments, such as the European Convention of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protect the right to public assembly, the purpose of which is to facilitate public debate and contribute to a democratic and an inclusive society. Additionally, Art. 42 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia prescribes that “[e]veryone shall be guaranteed the right to public assembly and peaceful protest, in compliance with law”.
[x] BAT test included in the common and updated list of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 compiled on the basis of the Council Recommendation of 21 January 2021.
[xi] The conditions for acquiring a COVID certificate are regulated by the Directive (EU) 2021/953 of the European Parliament and the Council of 4 June 2021 and include the proof of vaccination, the proof of a negative test and the proof of recovery from COVID-19.
[xiii] Persons vaccinated with a one-dose vaccine (Janssen) can request a certificate from the 15th day following the vaccination. Persons vaccinated with the fist dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca) can request a certificate from the 22nd day following vaccination with the first dose.
[xiv] Applications No. 47621/13, 3867/14, 73094/14, 19298/15, 19306/15 and 43883/15.
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