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Top five stories you might have missed
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Top five stories you might have missed

5 min. 03.12.2021 From our online archive
In case you missed them the Luxembourg Times has selected the five best of stories of the week
People line up outside a pharmacy in central Luxembourg for a rapid test to detect the Covid-19 virus
People line up outside a pharmacy in central Luxembourg for a rapid test to detect the Covid-19 virus
Photo credit: Emery P; Dalesio

Unvaccinated to take daily Covid test to enter workplace

Luxembourg’s unvaccinated will have to present a daily negative Covid test to be able to enter the workplace as of 15 January, ministers and unions said on Friday.

Any employee without a CovidCheck and who refuses to take a Covid test will not be able enter the workplace and will have to either take a day off or won’t be paid, but employees should not be fired for not meeting the conditions, Labour Minister Dan Kersch and Civil Service Minister Marc Hansen said at a press conference.  

Employers currently have the option to implement the so-called CovidCheck system for workers, which means if they wish they can make employees show proof they are vaccinated, have tested negative for Covid-19, or recently recovered from the virus, before allowing them into the office

Finance Minister Gramegna to exit politics

Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna is leaving his role as a senior member of Luxembourg’s government after eight years in a surprise move that his party described in a statement as motivated by "personal reasons."

The 63-year-old Gramegna has held the role since the Democratic Party returned to power in 2013 as part of a coalition government led by fellow DP member and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. 

Gramegna was expected to stay in office until the end of the year to oversee the Parliament's passage of the 2022 national budget, which he was also responsible for presenting, the Luxemburger Wort newspaper reported.

Possible successors include Alain Kinsch, a former managing partner of Ernst & Young Luxembourg, and Education Minister Claude Meisch, the Wort reported. Both were considered for the finance portfolio in 2013, the newspaper said. 

Gramegna also will not run in the 2023 national elections, DP President and Family Affairs Minister Corinne Cahen told the Luxembourg Times.

MEPs to probe top EU auditors' spending  

EU politicians will scrutinise documents held by the bloc's budget watchdog after allegations about auditors' expenses and living arrangements, despite the institution's head dismissing the accusations as “not having much to do with reality”.

Klaus-Heiner Lehne, president of the Luxembourg-based European Court of Auditors (ECA), appeared before a sitting of the parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee on Tuesday evening. He addressed claims made in an article published by the French daily newspaper Libération on Friday that he and eight other auditors had received unwarranted accommodation allowances.

The newspaper reported that Lehne has received more than €325,000 in additional Luxembourg accommodation allowances – equivalent to 15% of an ECA member’s monthly salary - to which he was not entitled because he spends most of his time in the German city of Düsseldorf.

The ECA is to provide documents for inspection by two members of the committee, who will then prepare a report for the committee.  

Luxair not tracking cabin crew vaccinations

Just as countries put travel bans back in place because of the new Omikron strain of the virus, national airline Luxair says it does not know how many employees aboard its planes are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 - and thus less likely to pass the disease on to passengers or others.

Like other airlines in western Europe responding to a spot survey by the Luxembourg Times, Luxair said it lacks the authority to collect information on what is considered to private and protected health information. 

All it can do, is encourage employees to be vaccinated: “We make sure that the crew members in contact with our passengers do not present any risk,” a Luxair spokesperson said in an email.

A new law allows all Luxembourg companies to require employees to show they are protected against the virus through the CovidCheck system, and to send home staff refusing to cooperate or even dismiss them. But Luxair has not reached an agreement with unions on how to implement that system.

Business booms at virus test provider Praxisdienst

Business demand for coronavirus tests is exploding, the head of a medical supplies firm said, suggesting that a daily swab and test of nose mucus may become a workday ritual in the months ahead.

"Even if you are vaccinated, you can have Covid,” Praxisdienst owner Michael Heine said, to explain why his corporate clients are increasingly demanding rapid tests for their workers. Businesses, especially in Germany, are buying up tests by the tens of thousands to allow their staff to come to work safely and avoid work disruptions, Heine said in an interview.

"We have a huge number of companies who want to avoid to have some Covid cases in the company and they do a daily test," Heine told the Luxembourg Times. The company itself also subjects staff to daily rapid tests to enter its headquarters near Grevenmacher and its warehouse outside Trier, he said.

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