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Latvian employers can dismiss unvaccinated workers, says parliament

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By Euronews  with AP
Protesters gather at the government building during a rally against mandatory vaccinations in Riga.
Protesters gather at the government building during a rally against mandatory vaccinations in Riga.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Dmitrijs Sujzics

Employees who are required to get a COVID-19 vaccine and refuse can be dismissed, the Latvian parliament has said.

Under a legal change, Latvian companies can suspend workers who are not vaccinated as required, if they are unable to make accommodations.

If they continue to refuse to be vaccinated after three months, the workers can then be dismissed.

But employers must first determine if there is another suitable position or if the staff member can fulfil their responsibilities while working from home.

There are also exceptions for those with medical reasons to not get a vaccine, including those who have recently recovered from infection.

The Seimas assembly voted 52-27 in favour of the emergency legal change on Thursday, with two abstentions and 60 lawmakers absent.

The vote means that employees who do not have a vaccination certificate by November 15 can be transferred to another appropriate job until the certificate has been obtained.

Vaccination certificates have previously been mandatory for health care, education, and social care sector workers.

But the measure has now been extended to all positions that involve contact with customers or where the employer deems a certificate to be necessary, according to national media.

Last month, Latvia introduced a night curfew until November 15 due to the worsening coronavirus situation.

Most stores are closed, and indoor and outdoor gatherings, including entertainment, sports, and cultural events are banned.

On Thursday, Latvia reported 2,347 new daily cases and 47 COVID-19 deaths. Of the new cases, 69.2% were in people who are unvaccinated or had not completed their vaccination course.

Several anti-vaccine and anti-vaccine demonstrations in August and September brought together thousands of people in the Latvian capital Riga.