Cabinet Office and Data Protection Office in Conflict over Coronavirus Tests

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A certificate of an antigen test for coronavirus. (Photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 1 (TASR) – Slovakia’s Cabinet Office has come into a conflict with the Office for the Protection of Personal Data (UOOU) over the latter’s notification that Chief Hygienist Jan Mikas’s decree allowing employers (and facilities, such as shops, apart from groceries) to demand a negative coronavirus test from everyone attempting to enter as of Monday is legally ill-founded.

According to UOOU, the “Labour Code only stipulates an obligation for employees with respect to their health condition to announce [to their employer] their sick leave or any other obstacle to work”.

Meanwhile, the UOOU believes that the Government’s and Mikas’s decrees on a ban of free movement in the country, except for people able to show a negative test for coronavirus, don’t provide a sufficient legal basis for making such demands vis-a-vis the legal protection of personal data.

The Cabinet Office in a response stated that the UOOU based its arguments on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). At the same time the Cabinet Office claimed that GDPR doesn’t concern the treatment of personal data as part of activities that don’t come under the EU’s legal framework. The Cabinet Office further stated that the UOOU “isn’t properly versed even in basic legislation concerning its activities”, adding that “it will therefore have to bear all negative consequences caused by this transgression of its powers”.

The chief hygienist’s decree will preliminary be in place for a week and is related to the countrywide testing for coronavirus on October 31 and November 1. Prime Minister Igor Matovic (OLaNO) has already announced that there will certainly be repeated mass testing across the country. He didn’t announce a specific date, however. It was earlier discussed that it could take place next weekend.