Household goods stores: to work or not to work during quarantine?
Complainee: Kyiv City State Administration
Complaint in brief: The Council received a complaint from a well-known retail chain of household, health and beauty goods. The company complained about actions of local authorities due to the fact that in several cities the stores were ordered to close. At the same time, other stores of the network were allowed to work. The company could provide the population with hygiene products and personal protective equipment for the period of quarantine in connection with COVID-19 pandemic. However, in a few cities the trade network had to close due to local authorities’ decision. In particular, the complainant informed about the episodes when authorities allowed the stores to work only in case of withdrawing a range of goods not considered to be hygiene products from sales. The company appealed to the Business Ombudsman Council for help.
Actions taken: The quarantine announced in March this year had a significant impact on the Council’s operation. From now on, the Council started to receive complaints from businesses related to quarantine restrictions. The investigator immediately considered the company’s case. The Council appealed to the Cabinet of Ministers and requested a clarification on the norms of the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers #211. This Resolution is applied to trade and consumer services companies trading in hygiene products which the complainant's company belonged to.
The authority did not rush to give a reply to the Council and only responded to its appeal 30 days later. The letter, which the Council received from the Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture, did not include the clarification requested. Thus, the Council repeatedly appealed to the Cabinet of Ministers asking for clarification.
Results achieved: Not having received clarification from the Cabinet of Ministers, the Council closed the case, since it lost its relevance. Once strict quarantine restrictions were loosened, the trade network of household goods resumed work of the previously closed stores.