Special Quarantine Regime and State of Emergency – Comparative Analysis
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global issue and the fight against it is being conducted at the global level, in the form of various regimes (state of emergency, quarantines, etc.) announced by variety of affected countries.
Sharaf Mammadova (Asgarova) is partner at EKVITA
Gulchin Mammadova is a junior lawyer at EKVITA
Azerbaijan has stepped up a number of restrictive measures by introducing a special quarantine regime (“SQR”) to tackle the pandemic and prevent its spread within the country. While SQR is introduced for the first time in Azerbaijan, it is worthwhile to mention that in the course of year 1992 and 1995, the state of emergency was repeatedly declared in certain regions of Azerbaijan. In 1993 the state of emergency was declared on the whole territory of the Republic for the period of 60 days.
Due to increasing number of questions with regards to the similarities and differences of two regimes, we have prepared a comparative table to illustrate these.Considering all the above, SQR is in its legal nature similar to a state of emergency, but with much less scrutiny. The spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country was initially considered as a sanitary-epidemiological situation.
Although the Law does not give a clear definition of the concept of a special quarantine regime, the announcement of a special regime on relevant regions of the country in case of a threat of the spread of infectious diseases has its own legislative basis (art. 25 of the Law).
In fact, there is no clear restrictive measures in the framework of such a regime have been established in the law. Declared throughout the country, the SQR is regulated on the basis of Decisions of Cabinet of Ministers (“CabMin”), the Operational Headquarters under CabMin and Presidential Decrees that can be interpreted as "the preparation and adoption of laws, other regulatory acts on issues of sanitary-epidemiological health of the population of Republic of Azerbaijan (art. 4 of the Law - Powers of the highest state authorities and administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the field of ensuring sanitary and epidemiological health of the population).
Article 4 of the Law sets among the powers of these bodies inter alia the establishment and cancellation of special educational, traffic, transport and labor regimes on the territory of Azerbaijan aimed at preventing the spread and elimination of infectious diseases among the population, what can justify restrictions on movement, suspension of educational institutions, state and other enterprises, departments and organizations, etc. within SQR.
Having said this, restriction of constitutional human rights and freedoms is possible only in cases expressly provided for in Constitution (art. 112 of Constitutional Law on Regulation of the implementation of human rights and freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan). Quarantine, as a measure of restricting the movement of citizens, is provided for in the Constitution as part of a state of emergency. Constitution also establishes the conditions under which a state of emergency is declared, among which the fact of the onset of the epidemic is listed. World Health Organization calls the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, and, accordingly, in our country this phenomenon has received a similar name.
Based on all of the above, SQR creates all the necessary legal conditions to regulate the current situation in the country without the need to declare a state of emergency, which was repeatedly noted in the speeches of government officials.
How countries worldwide combat against covid-19?
The heads of neighboring states, for example, Kazakhstan and Georgia, declared a state of emergency on their territory, with very similar restrictive measures to SQR. Russia went according to a different scenario and various restrictive measures were introduced on the territory of the state, such as a self-isolation regime, an emergency regime, a high alert regime and quarantine, depending on the prevalence of the disease in a particular region. In Georgia, from 21:00 to 6:00 a curfew was announced. A movement via special SMS permission system is not provided in any of the above states.
As the pandemic curve declines, the countries move to shift or lift strict quarantine measures. Per the Decree of CabMin, SQR has been prolonged although softened as of 4 May 2020, with a number of limitations lifted partially in main cities and largely in other regions of the country.