2021.08.04 15:25

Lithuania looks to bar unvaccinated people from non-essential shops and services

LRT.lt2021.08.04 15:25

Unvaccinated people may be barred from big non-essential shops and public events, the Lithuanian government said on Wednesday, with the definite decision expected next week.

The cabinet has approved a preliminary plan, under which people over 16 without coronavirus immunity – those who have not been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 – or a recent negative test will be barred from accessing a range of services as of September 13.

The plan is subject to further revisions and will be finally adopted next week, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said.

If the rules are approved, the so-called ‘opportunity passport’, Lithuania's national immunity certificate, or the European equivalent will be required to access:

- non-essential shops bigger than 1,500 square metres without direct street access

- healthcare institutions for non-essential health services

- beauty salons

- public events, both in indoor and outdoor venues, including film screenings, theatre shows, concerts, fairs and festivals

- public transport

- cafes, restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues

According to the document, people without the opportunity passport would still be allowed to shop in grocery stores, veterinary shops and pharmacies as well as small shops (under 1,500 square metres) with a direct street access.

According to Health Minister Arūnas Dulkys, people would not be required to wear facemasks in shops and venues where they need to present the opportunity passport.

Dulkys said that there is still enough time to get vaccinated and avoid the planned restrictions.

“Statistics show that the absolute majority of Covid-19 patients in our hospitals are not vaccinated, it's a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said on Wednesday.

Restrictions to be introduced in two stages

The initial set of restrictions is planned to be put in place once the resolution is passed by the government and be linked to the occupancy of Covid-19 beds in hospitals. The main package of restrictions would take effect on September 13.

“Some restrictions would come into force soon, others would come into force later, but the five weeks between them are enough to get vaccinated and develop immunity,” Prime Minister Šimonytė said.

Dulkys noted that another important change is that an antigen test would no longer be accepted for the immunity certificate, adding that the government would no longer offer free testing for people who want to obtain the pass, except for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

According to Dulkys, a negative PGR test result will allow people to get the opportunity pass for 48 hours.

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