Ukraine cancels mandatory self-isolation for arrivals: how this works

Several days ago, the Ministry of Healthcare (MoH) announced that for people visiting or returning to Ukraine from abroad, it is not necessary to self-isolate. But only if they take a test for coronavirus, and it turns up negative. AIN.UA’s editorial team has looked into how the procedure works.

What did the MoH declare?

At a press briefing on June 29, the Minister of Healthcare of Ukraine, Maksym Stepanov, announced that people arriving in Ukraine from the “red zone” should not necessarily self-isolate at home for two weeks. But for this end, they need to install the “Act at Home” application and take a PCR test for coronavirus at a Ukrainian hospital. This rule applies to both foreigners and Ukrainians arriving from abroad.

“If a person arrives from the temporarily occupied territories or from abroad, from the so-called ‘red zone,’ he or she must install the “Act at Home” application and begin to self-isolate. But if they take a PCR test on the territory of Ukraine and it turns up negative, there is no need to self-isolate,” the official noted.

How does this work in theory?

The changes have been introduced by Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 522, dated June 25, 2020, which, in its turn, changes the provisions of Resolution No. 392, dated May 20, 2020. The latest version of the document contains the following provision:

“The observation and self-isolation of a person, in connection with the crossing of the state border (who has arrived from, or is a citizen of, a state with the significant spread of COVID-19) […] shall be discontinued in the case of obtaining a negative result of the COVID-19 test using the method of polymerase chain reaction, conducted after the crossing of the state border.”

In brief: it is not necessary to self-isolate for those arriving from the “red zone” countries if they take a PCR test upon arrival, and it turns up negative.

The “red zone”

The “red zone” includes countries where the prevalence of the coronavirus exceeds 40 active cases per 100,000 population. The “green zone” refers to countries where the indicator is below 40. The MoH publishes such lists, and they are regularly updated.

Important: the same resolution introduces a norm under which foreigners can only cross the Ukrainian border if they have insurance valid for the duration of their stay in Ukraine. It must be issued either by a Ukrainian insurance company or by a foreign company registered in Ukraine (or having contractual arrangements for travel assistance with a Ukrainian partner). It is needed for covering the costs of COVID-19 treatment or observation.

How does this work in practice?

Let’s take a person who plans to come to Ukraine from a “red zone” country as an example. The algorithm for him or her is as follows (available in more detail at the Public Health Center’s website):

  • On crossing the border, they install the “Act at Home” application (which can be tied to a Ukrainian SIM card only). If they do not want to self-isolate, they need to find a clinic or other medical facility where they can take a PCR test for coronavirus.
  • Such a person has their samples taken for testing, after filling out the personal data processing consent form. It is mandatory that the fact of crossing the border be recorded in this paper, as well as the exact date of arrival in Ukraine. It must also contain the telephone number used to register with the “Act at Home” app.
  • The laboratory will run the test and send its results to the electronic system of the Public Health Center of Ukraine.
  • Such data are automatically synchronized with the “Act at Home” service, so further, it will send to the user’s “Act at Home” app a message saying that they can stop self-isolating.

Important: You can take the test only in particular laboratories and clinics. A complete list of such clinics and laboratories is available here, and only these institutions can transmit data to the electronic system. For example, Dila, Oleksandrovska Clinical Hospital, and some other institutions may perform tests for this purpose in Kyiv.

You should also need to be prepared to face some confusion concerning this issue when you arrive. Therefore, before coming to Ukraine, it is better to get advice from the consulate or embassy.

For example, Bogdan Logvynenko, the author of the project Ukraїner told AIN.UA how he had recently returned from Indonesia (he is in the “green sone” now):

“The five of us arrived in Ukraine from Indonesia, where we have flown back in winter. I went through the Fast Line and was not asked anything at all. Someone was told to install “Act at Home,” someone couldn’t install it, because they had no Ukrainian card. Then it turned out that they had been asked to install the “Act at Home” app before they found out from which country the passengers had come. It looked like a complete confusion on the part of regulatory authorities.

It’s not clear why they wouldn’t arrange a quick PCR test on arrival right at the airport? Or at least give the available information on where and how can they be taken?”

There are also cases when self-isolating users have received a response from the “Act at Home” app, which contradicts the recently adopted norms. Such a story is told by a Kyiv resident Elena Topchieva.

After the Cabinet of Ministers adopted the new rules, she contacted the support service of the application, but she was advised to stay home despite the test results.