Luxembourgh Times

Unvaccinated to take daily Covid test to enter workplace

Employees without CovidCheck and refusing to take daily test will have to take day off or won’t be paid, ministers say

A sign outside Luxembourg's Christmas markets tells people they must undergo the check before being allowed in

A sign outside Luxembourg's Christmas markets tells people they must undergo the check before being allowed in © Photo credit: Anouk Antony

Kathryn Oglesby

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.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Health Minister Paulette Lenert proposed on Monday to make the scheme mandatory, which if approved would come into effect in January.

In a bid to make the measures fair for all workers the government and unions agreed on Friday that anyone who is not vaccinated and who has not recently recovered from the virus will have to be tested for Covid-19 on a daily basis in order to be allowed into the workplace, Kersch and Hansen said.

The tighter controls come as Covid cases rise in Luxembourg and across the EU. Luxembourg’s Health Ministry reported 570 new Covid cases on Thursday and three new deaths from the virus, while on Wednesday authorities reported 585 new cases, a figure not seen since 15 December last year.

The newly discovered Covid-19 variant Omicron has also sent governments around the world into a panic, with many countries tightening measures for the unvaccinated and restricting travellers from places where the variant has been discovered.

Some European Union countries, including Luxembourg, at the end of last week agreed to rapidly impose restrictions on seven African countries - Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe - as scientists rush to determine whether the new Omicron strain is more dangerous or transmissible.

People who have stayed in one the seven African countries in the 14 days prior to arriving in Luxembourg will have to undergo a PCR test as soon as possible, quarantine for seven days and take a second test from the sixth day of quarantine, the Health and Foreign Affairs Ministries said. The measure will be in place until 14 January.

The new Omicron variant has already been discovered in many countries outside of southern Africa including the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland but Luxembourg has so far reported no cases.

(Additional reporting by Teddy Jaans)