The Lithuanian government has approved a range of restrictions for people without Covid-19 immunity that will come into effect in mid-September. Immunity certificates will be required to access non-essential shops, services, and indoor events.
Under the document adopted on Wednesday, people over 16 who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the disease will be barred from shopping malls, beauty salons, cafes and restaurants, indoor public events.
To access these services, people will be required to present the so-called ‘opportunity passport’, Lithuania's national immunity certificate, or its European equivalent. A negative PGR test will also be valid as a pass for 48 hours. However, test takers will have to pay for it themselves.
The government previously considered to include public transport and non-essential medical services among the restrictions, but decided against it.
The new rules will come into effect on September 13. The government has previously said it leaves enough time to get vaccinated.
People without immunity certificates will be allowed to shop at food, veterinary, optical stores and pharmacies (under 1,500 square metres and with direct street access). They can also visit art and museum exhibitions and libraries as well as outdoor public events of up to 500 people.
Facemasks will be mandatory for them when visiting indoor public places. Meanwhile, people with immunity are recommended, but not required, to wear facemasks.
Health Minister Arūnas Dulkys told the cabinet that the restrictions were being put in place to prevent rising coronavirus cases from overwhelming the healthcare system and to protect people who cannot get vaccinated.
“We already have 334 [occupied] Covid-19 beds today,” he said.
Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said that “during this wave, we are less concerned about the number of cases and more concerned about the impact on the health system.”
At the moment, 54 percent of people in the country have been vaccinated at least once, or 64 percent of Lithuania's adult population. According to Statistics Lithuania, the country currently holds 1.2 million unused vaccine doses.
A big protest rally was held outside the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday against the planned restrictions. It turned into a riot when several hundred protesters surrounded the Seimas building later that night and clashed with police.