Parliament votes to relax Covid rules in policy reversal
Parliament approved a new law on Tuesday evening to relax some Covid-19 measures, despite eight more virus-related deaths in Luxembourg over the weekend and infections reaching record numbers in recent weeks.
The changes constitute a U-turn after parliament had rushed through new legislation just before Christmas to tackle the spread of the highly contagious Omicron.
Isolation periods for fully vaccinated people who contract Covid have been reduced from ten days to six - provided they register two negative lateral flow test results - while a booster jab is no longer required to enter bars or restaurants. A negative Covid-19 test result is also not essential if someone has recently recovered from the virus or received a second vaccine dose within the last six months.
The State Council, an advisory body to government and parliament, on Monday slammed the new Covid law for softening measures in light of the recent surge in cases. The Grand Duchy set a new record with over 2,100 infections reported last Wednesday, part of a trend of record high infection figures due to the more transmissible Omicron variant. There were almost 1,000 positive cases on Tuesday, representing almost a quarter of all PCR tests carried out.
The Grand Duchy's education ministry has also reduced quarantine rules for students or school staff who have had contact with an infected person, according to the Luxemburger Wort. The requirement will now only apply for unvaccinated or unrecovered students and teachers who do not take part in regular testing for the virus that causes the disease. In primary schools, 5% of students do not take part in the testing while around 20% in secondary education do not participate, but the majority of those students are vaccinated, the ministry said.
Weekend demonstrations against Covid-19 restrictions involving hundreds of protestors prompted new criticism of Internal Security Minister Henri Kox, who oversees the police. Opposition politicians and journalists accused Kox of again underestimating the protests that took place on Saturday, with crowds disrupting traffic in the capital city and intimidating bystanders.
Protestors have announced on social media their intention to protest in front of the Robert Schuman Hospital in Luxembourg City next week. In answer to a parliamentary question about the announced protest, Kox did not announce any extra measures on Tuesday, but said that entrances to hospital must be kept open at all times and that no person should be harmed.