If by 15 May 2020 the main rule was clear and quite sharp: ‘#STAYHOME’, as of 16 May, things are no longer so clear.
We know that we will no longer fill out an affidavit to go out for a run and we are also preparing our face masks’ and visors’ stocks to wear indoors, but it is not clear how we will return to the office, how office and business meetings will look like, how future transactions will be concluded and, briefly, how business and everyday life can be brought back to a point close to the one before the coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, we believe that this grey area can be clarified with a set of measures which we anticipate to be very useful starting with day zero after the emergency state end.
- Back to the office – measures for a safe transition from work from home to work from the office.
In this respect, several recommendation measures have already been developed at both national and European levels.
However, the practical measures to be taken into account by employers with regard to the employees’ return to the office should be customized according to the activity type and the internal organisation of each employer, including, among others:
- Repositioning of desks in such a way as to comply with the rules of social distancing.
- Where the office space or surface does not allow, it is recommended to develop a schedule for working in shifts at the office in order to avoid the presence of a large number of employees in a limited space at the same time. The schedule may be organised in hourly or weekly intervals, with the recommendation for the spaces to be thoroughly sanitized between the shifts of employees.
- The work from home measure could be removed gradually, depending on the evolution of the new coronavirus cases, with a regular increase in the presence of employees at the office from week to week.
- Providing employees with adequate means of protection: face masks, gloves, visors, disinfectant solutions.
- Back on site – measures to restart the activity of employees who perform work on site
- The implementation by the employer of permanently functional call centre / video centre systems in order to attempt, in the first phase and to the extent possible, to remotely remedy / analyse the functioning of certain systems. The system could be similar to those of online medical consultations currently adopted by certain private medical networks.
- Regarding the employees for which going on site will prove to be necessary, it is mandatory for the employer to provide them with adequate means of protection: face masks, gloves, visors, disinfectant solutions.
- Conclusion of transactions during post-coronavirus period
- It would be prudent for the transaction negotiations and business meetings to be kept, for a period, in the form of video conferences on online platforms.
- Regarding the conclusion of transactions and their signing before the public notary, a first remedy to minimize risks and human contact is for the parties to present themselves separately before the public notary, at pre-set times.
- In addition, for projects requiring long-term negotiations, documentation preparation or other preliminary steps, the parties could, in a first phase, conclude promises for the transfer of rights in rem (under private signature) instead of the actual transfer deeds, and the conclusion of the deeds under notarized form will take place at a subsequent stage.
- Ongoing contractual relations
- If the state of emergency period was mainly focused on requests for postponing / suspension of contractual obligations, we anticipate that the post-coronavirus period will have a strong component represented by renegotiations and contractual adjustments based on exact figures and consequences, as the contractual partners will have a clear record of the business fluctuations during the state of emergency.
- We anticipate that the companies in the horeca field shall have a strong argument – they will have a well-founded negotiating point based on the financial statements from March – May period and will be able to guide the negotiations for the post-coronavirus period, when it is expected for the reactivation of business in this area to take place at a very slow pace.
- At the same time, however, regarding the companies that have had an intense activity during the state of emergency – e.g. courier companies, disinfectants’ producers, etc. – it is expected that any initiatives to renegotiate agreements will be more difficult in the absence of financial results reflecting significant decreases.
- Cash vs card
- Romania does not hold a leading position in the number of card payments per capita, but certainly the coronavirus pandemic and all hygiene rules are now a much stronger argument in favour of using cards and opting for contactless payments.
- We anticipate an ascending trend in this area, thus requiring the alignment of all merchants, regardless of their field, with the card payment systems, as well as the permanent adjustment and refinement of online transaction and payment processing systems.
- Free time
- Access to this kind of activities – e.g. cinema, theatre, concerts, sports competitions, etc. – will most likely not be granted in the next period, as the rules of social distancing will probably remain in force for a significant period of time. Most likely, this sector will also require the implementation of certain measures such as: maintaining empty seats between spectators, stricter measures to sanitize the halls and also having temperature-measuring devices, in order to limit, as much as possible, the risks of infection. Regarding the temperature measuring process, it should be noted that, in so far as the visitor’s first and last name are not processed/stored in any way in this process, the temperature values do not constitute by themselves personal data within the meaning of the GDPR (they represent anonymised data). Thus, even if we are talking about sensitive medical data, the latter cannot lead to the actual identification of the data subject, therefore such measure is in line with the provisions of data protection legislation.
- Insofar as outdoor sports competitions are concerned, we believe that they will be reactivated before those in enclosed spaces, but most likely in a different structure and with a limited number of people.
This pandemic will bring massive changes in business, consumer strategy and everyday life. But the right choices and the right set of measures will contribute to an easy and safe transition to the “new” normal, as well as avoiding, to a large extent, the inherent risks in the coronavirus pandemic.