Parliament adopted law about termination of state of danger

On Tuesday, Parliament passed the law about the termination of the state of danger declared due to the coronavirus epidemic, and adopted a legislative act regarding the transitional rules related to the cessation of the state of danger and a state of disease control preparedness.

Members of Parliament passed the bill initiating the termination of the state of danger – which was presented to Parliament by Gergely Gulyas, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office and required a two-thirds majority – with 192 votes.

In the legislative act, Parliament calls upon the government to terminate the state of danger. This section of the law will enter into force on the day following its promulgation. Accordingly, the government will decide about the lifting of the state of danger, and the law on the fight against the coronavirus will cease to have effect once the date of entry is made public.

This is the legal rule with which Parliament extended the state of danger declared by the government on 11 March and which would have made it possible for the cabinet to adopt extraordinary provisions even if Parliament had been unable to remain in session due to the epidemic.

At the end of May, Justice Minister Judit Varga said the state of danger could come to an end on 20 June.

At the same time, the government believes it is necessary to maintain several legislative provisions adopted during the epidemic and to introduce a few transitional measures; therefore, based a proposal submitted by Gulyas, Parliament also adopted the law on the transitional rules related to the cessation of the state of danger and a state of disease control preparedness with 135 votes for, 54 votes against and three abstentions.

Based on this, at the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer, in response to the Minister’s proposal, the government may declare a state of health care crisis which amounts to a state of disease control preparedness. During this period, patients are cared for according to the protocol of a state of health care crisis.

A state of crisis is to be declared if there is an international pandemic emergency. A state of crisis can also be declared if an unexpected event jeopardises or harms people’s lives, physical well-being and health or the operation of health care providers to a degree which leads to a disproportion between health care needs and the locally available capacity, and necessitates the cooperation of health care state administration agencies, health care providers and other state and local government agencies.

Any circumstance can give rise to declaring a state of danger which severely and directly hinders care for the population of a given medical institution’s catchment area, provided that such population’s care in another medical institution would result in disproportionate difficulties.

A state of health care crisis can last for maximum six months, unless the government extends its effect.

The law determines the rules of compulsory home quarantine and provides for exemption in cases deserving special consideration.

A rule has been adopted laying down that the defence forces can participate in the fulfilment of tasks related to a state of danger and a state of health care crisis armed.

The disaster management legislation now provides that with a view to preventing human epidemics causing mass incidences posing a threat to human life and property and in order to ward off the consequences thereof, beyond the measures already laid down in the relevant legislation, the government may suspend the application of certain laws, may depart from statutory provisions and may adopt further extraordinary measures in the interest of guaranteeing the lives, health, personal, property and legal security of citizens and the stability of the national economy.

The law confirms the credit debt repayment moratorium introduced during the state of danger in relation to loans and lease agreements until 31 December.

It contains provisions about the conclusion of the school year in schools and in vocational training, the deferral for the submission of returns for certain corporate taxes, the tax and contribution benefits extended to some sectors of the economy, the raising and exemption from the payment of the social contribution tax of fringe benefits provided as part of the Szechenyi Recreational Card, and the extension of expiring social and family benefits. The limit of HUF 15,000 for contactless payment without the use of the PIN number will remain in effect until the end of the year, parking will remain free until 1 July, and catering establishments will not be required to pay a fee for the use of street premises until September.

As a novel provision, the Bekes County Government Office proceeding as state employment agency may grant employer applications to use a frame of cumulative working hours or a settlement period over a maximum period of twenty-four months in the event of investments creating new jobs if the implementation of the given investment is in the best interests of the national economy.

In the original wording of the bill, the minister responsible for employment policy would have had the authority to grant applications; however, the Justice Committee initiated a change, taking the view that the government office has the practical experience that is necessary for the fulfilment of the related official duties.

Special rules were adopted with regard to organised travels which fell through due to the epidemic. They lay down that – provided that they are accepted by customers – travel agents may also offer travel vouchers instead of refunds.

The law also provides that the government continues to have the authority to determine special rules relating to presence on the sites of venues.

There will be ample time for the replacement of documents that expired during the state of danger as they will remain valid for 180 days after the end of the state of danger.

The legislation contains transitional rules for asylum proceedings until 31 December in the wake of the May judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Applications for asylum can be submitted at the foreign representations determined in a government decree.

Photo: MTI

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