Luxembourg to make nights out tougher for unvaccinated
Luxembourg residents could face stricter Covid checks if they want to visit bars, clubs or restaurants under the government's revised pandemic health law unveiled on Friday, that makes daily life harder for the unvaccinated.
The requirement for patrons of the country’s hospitality venues to prove they are vaccinated, tested negative or have recovered from Covid-19 now applies to gatherings of four people indoors and 10 people in outdoor areas.
But the so-called CovidCheck system would apply to all customers, not just those in larger groups, from the start of November if parliament approves revisions to the pandemic-fighting regulations. The government also plans to scrap rapid self-tests for people wanting to eat or drink out, insisting that they must instead have more accurate but costlier checks that are carried out at testing centres or pharmacies.
"We are aware that we are making the lives of unvaccinated people tougher,” Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said at a press conference with Health Minister Paulette Lenert. “But we have no choice."
Nearly 370,000 people in Luxembourg have been fully vaccinated, according to Luxembourg’s health ministry. But 23% of the population is still not vaccinated, Bettel said, adding that he worries that includes 17% of those over 60 years old.
“Our vaccination figures are stagnating,” he said. “The pandemic could be over if enough people were vaccinated. (The jab) is so far the only way out of this crisis."
The government's proposed law also would give companies or public employers the option of demanding CovidChecks from their workers, Bettel said. If employees refuse to provide information about their immunity status, they could be refused entry to their workplace.
In another drive to encourage vaccinations, drop-in centres in Ettelbrück and Esch-Belval will reopen for two months from 16 October for free shots available without an appointment.
The rules could be loosened if 80% of the population is vaccinated, Bettel said, adding that the government's target is to have 85% of residents jabbed.
The current Covid-fighting law is due to expire on 18 October. Luxembourg will also recognise vaccination certificates from non-EU counties like the UK, Lenert said during the conference.
(Additional reporting by Yannick Hansen)