29 September 2020
Myanmar

As the rate of COVID-19 infections were on a downtrend in May-June 2020, the Ministry of Health and Sports (“MOHS”) issued notifications (50/2020), (57/2020), (66/2020) and (72/2020) to revoke the stay at home programme. Factories and workplaces had been allowed to gradually reopen with the approval of the MOHS if that factory or workplace has complied with social distancing measures and the premises passed an inspection by MOHS and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population. A large number of factories and businesses reopened in June and July 2020.

However, from mid-August 2020, there has been a sharp rise in local infection cases which were increasing at an exponential rate. As at 27 September 2020, Myanmar has reported a total of 10,734 cases (with over 10,000 cases in just a period of one month). In light of the continuous upward trend of confirmed cases, MOHS issued Order 107/2020 on 20 September 2020 (“Order 107”), essentially being a stay-at-home order where all companies and workplaces (except for a list of essential services) were required to work from home. On 22 September 2020, MOHS issued Order 108/2020 (“Order 108”) to expand the list of essential services categories exempted from Order 107.

Order 107 is summarised in respect of the public and private sector as follows:

  1. in the public sector, government offices and civil servants shall operate on a two week rotation basis, being two weeks office attendance and two weeks working from home;
  2. for the private sector, banking and financial services, petrol stations, food production, cold-storage facilities for meat and fish, production and distribution of medicines, medical supplies and purified drinking water, factories of daily personal hygiene products and related businesses are allowed to operate;
  3. all other organisations and companies are to work from home; and
  4. there is a carve-out for raw material and cut-make-pack (CMP) factories and workplaces which shall not operate from 24 September 2020 to 7 October 2020.

Order 107 is effective from 21 September 2020 at 8 am with no end date stipulated in Order 107.

Order 108 increased the list of exempted industries and services under Order 107 by including the following:

  1. airlines/general aviation services for relief flights, cargo flights and chartered flights, ground services, filling aviation fuels, trades in air transport, freight forwarder companies, customs services agencies, in-flight catering services and airplane maintenance services;
  2. private-run ports which are providing services for international cargo vessels at the international terminals at the Yangon Port, representative offices of shipping lines, freight forwarder companies, customs services agencies, container-carrying vehicles services, trucks for export/import goods at the ports, vessels, inland container deports and dry ports; and
  3. communication businesses such as post office services, landline and mobile phone communications services, internet services (not including vendors of mobile phones and internet data), and services for communication towers and fiber networks.

In respect of households, only one person per household may travel outside for the purchase of essential goods and only two persons per household shall be permitted to travel for hospital or clinic visits. Furthermore, the wearing of facemask is mandatory when going outside the place of residence. Finally, only vehicles transporting people to and fro from work and permitted vehicles may enter any township from another township. To implement this rule, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) will conduct registration of business and employees for the abovementioned exempted categories. Authorised business and employees will be issued with an ID containing a QR Code to operate the business and travel between townships. The enforcement of such travel restrictions (between townships) are currently being enforced by the Myanmar police force with the setting up of road blocks.

Failures to abide by Order 107 is punishable under the Prevention and Control of Communicable Disease Law 1995 which includes a term of imprisonment up to six months or a fine up to MMK10,000 or both.

In addition, the Department of Civil Aviation under the Ministry of Transport and Communications has also announced international commercial flight restrictions are extended till 31 October 2020.

ZICO Law Myanmar will continue to monitor further developments from the Government and other regulatory bodies, and update everyone accordingly.

If you have any questions or require any additional information, please contact Geraldine Oh or Thuzar Tin of ZICO Law Myanmar.

This alert is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.