Local EU +3 statement on mandatory COVID-19 testing for foreign workers

Today, a delegation representing the Ambassadors of the European Union, the 27 Member States of the European Union, as well as the Ambassadors of Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom carried out a demarche to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea in order to express their strong concern regarding the issuing of orders by local and regional authorities, including the Seoul Metropolitan Government, ordering foreign workers to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing. The demarche followed a Note Verbale sent prior to the aforementioned authorities on Thursday, 18 March 2021.

While commending Korea for its overall approach to the pandemic, the Ambassadors considered the orders for mandatory testing to foreign workers discriminatory, disproportionate, without medical justification, and not conducive to achieving the desired effect of lowering the number of COVID-19 cases. They underlined that there was an urgent need to inform Embassies ahead of any new measure and to fully clarify the scope of the measure.

The Ambassadors took note of the assurance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the concerns expressed are taken seriously and were being discussed among all the relevant authorities. Ambassadors were informed that these authorities are working on improved guidance with the aim of both clarifying the measures and avoiding unintended consequences.

The Ambassadors call upon the authorities to clarify and review the measures urgently and will continue to closely monitor developments.

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