Vaccine push-back makes itself heard in parliament
A call to ease pressure on the unvaccinated received strong support just days before tougher new rules that will enable employers to force staff out of the workplace unless they are protected against Covid-19 comes into force.
The petition called on lawmakers not to discriminate against citizens who choose not to take an injection against the disease, which has killed 843 people in the country, where it is on the rise again.
As of Monday, companies may ask workers to show proof that they are vaccinated, have recently tested negative or have recovered from the disease. Companies can withhold salaries from staff who refuse to comply, bar them from entering the workplace, or even dismiss them.
A public petition to stop the CovidCheck system reached the threshold of 4,500 signatures just two days after it opened, meaning Parliament will need to debate the petition. When the petition closed on Thursday, it had reached an unusually high 11,686 number of signatures.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's government is trying to push hold-outs to get the jab, as Luxembourg's vaccination rate continues to trail that of its immediate neighbours. Around 63% of the population is fully vaccinated. In Germany, the number stands at 66%, in France at 68% and in Belgium it is 74%, the Oxford University's Our World in Data website shows.
The rules, which also apply to people wanting to dine out or drink in bars, have sparked concern from trade unions and Luxembourg's de facto upper legislative body, which questioned the powers the rules would give to employers.
The new rules are a “hindrance to individual freedom and human rights”, the petition states. “We absolutely must give citizens a free choice in the medical field," wrote Christelle Pizzirulli, who launched the petition.
Luxembourg’s CNPD data regulator - which claimed world fame this year when it slapped a record fine on US retail giant Amazon - also questioned the system, saying it could lead to violations of EU-wide data protection regulations.
Other petitions around Covid-19 fell short of being debated in parliament by just a few signatures. One calling on authorising alternative treatment for Covid-19 gained 4,491 signatures – just nine short of making it to parliament. Another called on vaccines to not be given to children lacked just 10 signatures.