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Social distancing regulations, safety measures in the workplace, special purpose benefit in May

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A. Social distancing regulations (Ministerial Decision. B’ 1647/03 – 05 - 2020)

For re-opening private businesses (retail shops, hair salons etc.), the maximum number of people in spaces is defined according to m2:  4 people up to 20 m2,  1 person per extra 10 m2 for spaces up to 100m2, 12 people plus 1 person per extra 15m2 for spaces more than 100m2 and 1 person per 10m2 in each floor for spaces bigger than 300m2.

A distance of 1,5 m. should be kept between people, either working personnel or clients, while use of elevators is permitted only in case of real need and only for 40% of the elevator’s total capacity limit. For retail shops in Attica and Thessaloniki, operating hours start at 10 a.m..

For hair and beauty salons, a distance of at least 2 m. is expected to be kept between working positions, while clients may access the salons only after a booked appointment. All workers shall wear face masks. Working hours are 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. during weekdays and 7a.m. – 9 p.m. on Saturdays.

In case of breach of regulations as described in the Ministerial Decision 27815/2020 (Gov.Gaz. 1647/Β/03.05.2020), high administrative fines are imposed, as well as order to suspend business operation for a certain period of time.

Furthermore, wearing a face mask is obligatory for citizens in public transport, hospitals and other health centers, while administrative fines may be imposed in case of non-compliance.

B. Safety measures in the workplace (Circular 17312/Δ9.506/4.5.2020)

The Ministry of Labor issued a Circular providing four (4) categories of special safety measures to be taken in the workplace, with the aim to protect all workers, regardless their working status. The Circular addresses all workplaces, private and public, suspended and currently operating, and it provides specifications for tackling the spread of coronavirus as an occupational hazard, on the basis of the existing legislation for occupational health for workers in Greece.

According to said legislation, the employer, in coordination with the Safety Technician and the Occupational Doctor (where the latter is needed according to the law), shall detect and evaluate the occupational hazards in the workplace and take the appropriate each time measures in order to secure safety and protect workers’ health.

B1. Organizational measures

It is required that minimum distance is kept between working positions and that gathering of many people in the same place is avoided. This may become possible by introducing various ways of organization in the workplace.

Indicatively, the employer may place a part of its working force under different timetable, in order to limit massive arrival and departure to and from the workplace, make use of the option of teleworking and rotation work, where and if possible, provide for technical changes such as placement of plexi-glass between offices, constantly inform its working force regarding safety guidelines and in general supervise the implementation of the measures introduced.

B2. Hygiene measures and personal protective equipment

The employer is required to provide all necessary personal protective equipment to its workers (masks, gloves etc.), as well as appropriate facilities (e.g. washbasins) and products (e.g. disinfectants). The employer shall also train its working force as to the proper use and supervision of use of the personal protective equipment.

On the other side, employees shall adhere to all guidelines for personal protection, inter alia, they shall wash their hands before and after eating and visiting the toilet or using liquid disinfectants regularly, cover their nose and mouth either with a tissue or with their elbow when coughing and sneezing, avoid handshakes and other personal contacts, use appropriately and according to the guidelines given by the employer and the competent authorities the personal protective equipment and, of course, inform the employer in case of presenting symptoms related to COVID-19.

B3. Environmental measures

Ventilation systems in the workplace shall be regularly maintained, while natural airing is of importance. Working facilities (all spaces, including the common areas), surfaces (door handlers, light switches etc.), working tools (computers etc.) shall be cleaned and disinfected regularly, while working clothing shall be regularly cleaned and safely maintained in dedicated places.

B4. Special preventive measures – Monitoring of workers’ health

A plan for managing coronavirus incidents in the workplace shall be introduced, including preparation of all stages and procedures to be followed (employer’s update, quarantine process, contact with the competent medical authorities, tracing the people who came in contact with the coronavirus incident etc.), while the employer shall take special care of the “high-risk” workers who are more likely to present serious symptoms, by taking any kind of appropriate measure for this, for example by placing them under teleworking regime.

A “self-evaluation” form is attached in the Circular, in order to facilitate businesses in taking all the appropriate measures for the protection of occupational health of their working force.