VILNIUS – The Lithuanian government proposes that the parliament amend the law to require unvaccinated workers in certain areas to pay for their COVID-19 tests.
A proposal to introduce mandatory vaccination against the coronavirus for some workers was removed from the agenda of Wednesday's Cabinet meeting.
"The government has the authority to approve a list of jobs and activities in which unvaccinated workers and those who have not had the infection are allowed to work if they get tested regularly," Health Minister Arunas Dulkys told the Cabinet.
"Currently, this preventing testing is financed by the budget. The essence of the change is that from now on, health checks for the communicable disease [...] should be paid for by the employee or by the employer if the employer decides so," he said.
The state will continue to pay for tests for workers who cannot take the jab for medical reasons and if vaccines are not available, according to the minister.
The government is asking the parliament to consider the draft amendments to the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases in Humans under a fast-track procedure.
Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told a news conference later on Wednesday that while taxpayer-funded testing of unvaccinated people was understandable when the country did not have enough vaccines, it is " hardly justifiable" now when jabs are freely available.
Testing of unvaccinated workers currently "costs taxpayers millions of euros and can only be justified when there are no alternative means of managing the pandemic, that is, vaccines", she said.
If the Seimas passes the amendments, they will take effect on December 1, giving the unvaccinated enough time to get fully inoculated, Simonyte noted.
The Cabinet was expected to consider on Wednesday legislative amendments to introduce mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 for some workers, but the proposal was removed from the agenda.
The amendments would have prohibited workers from doing jobs on a list to be approved by the government unless they are vaccinated, cannot take the jab for medical reasons, have developed immunity through infection, or have no access to vaccines.