Petitions add further calls for changes to CovidCheck rules
(This story was corrected to show that Luxembourg has fully vaccinated about the same proportion of its adult population as the EU average, based on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control figures.)
Residents in Luxembourg are petitioning against the tightening of rules to fight the coronavirus, in further pressure on the government to revise the regulations which could see employees banned from the office if they haven’t been vaccinated.
Lawmakers passed the latest Covid rules on Monday, allowing employers to demand a CovidCheck certificate from their workers. Companies will then have the authority to withhold salaries from staff who refuse to comply, refuse them entry to the workplace, or even dismiss them.
But the measures, which will come into force at the start of November and also apply to people wanting to dine out or drink in bars, drew ire from trade unions and Luxembourg's de facto upper chamber, the State Council.
Now fresh calls for changes to be made to the rules have come in the form of four petitions, which opened for signature on Friday.
One of the petitions asked for a referendum to scrap the CovidCheck system in Luxembourg, another called for it not to be used in companies and public institutions such as schools and hospitals, while another said that a QR code should be made available for those who had antibodies against the virus. A final petition said the pass should be valid for more than six months after someone recovers from Covid.
The government measures come in a bid to raise vaccination rates in the country with 75% of over 18s in the Grand Duchy fully vaccinated - about the same as the EU average, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC). France has vaccinated just over 80% of adults, Germany just under 80% and Belgium 85%, according to the ECDPC .
Luxembourg’s data regulator CNPD - which claimed world fame this year when it slapped a record fine on US retail giant Amazon - also cast doubt upon the plans on Tuesday this week, saying it could lead to violations of EU-wide data protection regulations.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's government had ignored advice from the CNPD to make it clearer if the widespread use of the so-called CovidCheck would mean employers would process or keep health data from their workers.
If that were the case, employers would be breaching the EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a set of EU rules that came into force in 2018. In its current form, the law does not specify what employers can do with the data.
The CNPD also questioned the fact that private information - such as a person's date of birth and name - is visible to employers and bar and restaurant owners when they scan the CovidCheck QR code to check its validity.