Opposition MPs planning to demand popular vote on "mandatory vaccination"

  • 2021-07-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - If the Saeima approves the provision making vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for particular groups of people, opposition lawmakers will ask the president to suspend the promulgation of the bill and call a public vote on the matter, LETA learned. 

Opposition MP Julija Stepanenko said that the legislative amendments proposed by the government would enable employers to sack unvaccinated persons and that politicians must consider steps to prevent these amendments from being adopted. 

Stepanenko believes that the government coalition is unlikely to show common sense on the vaccine issue, because it has already broken earlier promises, for instance, by not postponing tax reform. 

Stepanenko said that the opposition should use the mechanism provided in the Constitution to stop the draft legislation from being adopted. 

According to Article 72 of the Latvian Constitution, the president has the right to suspend the promulgation of a law for a period of two months. The president is obliged to  suspend the promulgation of a law if so requested by at least 34 members of the Saeima. This right may be exercised by the president, or by at least 34 members of the Saeima, within ten days of the adoption of the law by the Saeima. 

"The law thus suspended shall be put to a national referendum if so requested by not less than one-tenth of the electorate," the Constitution says. 

Stepanenko said that as soon as the legislative amendments on mandatory vaccination for particular groups of people reach the parliament and are most likely urgently adopted, the opposition will have to act to make sure the bill is never signed into law. 

Employers will be authorized to dismiss employees who will not have obtained their Covid-19 certificates by September 15, the Cabinet of Ministers decided Tuesday.

The government also agreed to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for medics, social workers and teachers, among others.

The Justice Ministry in collaboration with the Ministries of Health, Welfare, Economics and Finance will draft the respective amendments to the Law on the Management of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection by July 14.

The new provisions will oblige employers to protect people in high-risk groups from being subjected to increased Covid-19 infection risks.

Employers will also be required to ensure an epidemiologically safe provision of services in medical, social care and education institutions, which means that the provider of services will have to have a valid certificate proving that the employee has either been vaccinated against Covid-19 or has recovered from the disease.

The central and local governments will be obliged to ensure that all services that are provided in person are epidemiologically safe. Persons without a Covid-19 certificate will be able to receive services in person only if the services cannot be provided remotely.

The new regulation will allow employers to make Covid-19 certificates mandatory for employees whose job involves an increased risk of infecting other persons or contracting the virus. Covid-19 certificates will also be mandatory for public servants providing services in state or municipal institutions.

Employees will be given until September 15 to get vaccinated and obtain the certificates. Those who will fail to get their certificates by the September 15 deadline will face transfers or sacking.

The ministries tasked with drafting the new legislation have also been asked to assess the provisions' compliance with the Constitution.