Parliament talks bill on protection of population against infectious diseases

NEWS 02.12.2020 20:30
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Source: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL

The parliament on Wednesday discussed amendments to the Act on the Protection of the Population Against Infectious Diseases introducing penalties for non-compliance with measures designed to protect against COVID-19, which the ruling majority supports and the Opposition considers belated.

Health Minister Vili Beros said that the measures were balanced and were designed to protect citizens’ health and lives and that they would be in force as long as it took to respond to the pandemic.

He stressed that the measures included the compulsory wearing of protective masks to prevent the transmission of the disease.

The measures include a ban on public events and gatherings and private gatherings. Their violation will be penalised in line with the Misdemeanors Act and compliance with them will be checked by the police and the State Inspectorate, Beros said.

He said that the government’s position was that at the start of its next session the parliament should be informed of the implementation of the measures and activities in the fight against COVID-19.

The new measures are necessary in the fight against coronavirus and the proposed amendments are an act of adapting to the new circumstances for the benefit of all, Beros said, adding that the measures did not restrict freedoms, did not constitute double standards and were not politically motivated.

They have been adopted so that we could manage the epidemic in the best possible way, prevent the spread of the disease and enable a speedy recovery of the nation and the health system, said Beros, underlining the importance of personal responsibility and solidarity.

He dismissed reports that the new regulations would give police additional powers, enabling them to enter citizens’ homes and count the people present there.

Asked by MP Sandra Bencic of the green-left coalition if he felt politically responsible for the current situation, he said that she had the advantage of hindsight and that the government had tried to strike a balance between health protection and economic activity.

No country has a magic recipe, we have been working in line with professional standards and adapting to the circumstances, he said.

Asked by Social Democrat MP Arsen Bauk if the current growth in infections could have been predicted, Beros said it could not have been mathematically determined.

Bridge MP Miro Bulj said that citizens’ trust in the national COVID-19 response team had been betrayed because the team had made political and contradictory decisions, while Beros replied that the government did not want to punish citizens but prevent the spread of the epidemic.