European Union member-state Latvia has announced that unvaccinated MPs will be banned from voting in its parliament, as well as having their salary docked.
On Friday, a majority of 62 in the 100-seat Saeima (Parliament) of Latvia voted in favour of mandating proof of vaccination or recovery from the Wuhan virus for elected officials.
Starting on Monday, MPs who fail to present documentation of vaccination or recovery will have their pay suspended and will be barred from participating in parliamentary votes, the governing body said in a statement.
“From November 15, an MP will be entitled to participate in the work of the Saeima only if he or she has presented a digital COVID-19 certificate confirming the fact of vaccination or [recovery from] illness,” the parliament announced.
“The payment of a monthly salary and compensation will be suspended for a Saeima MP who will not be entitled to participate in the work of the parliament,” the statement added.
The law, which will be in effect until at least July 1st of next year, also applies to officials in local councils as well.
The chairman of the Defence, Home Affairs, and Corruption Prevention Commission which spearheaded the legislation, Juris Rancāns, said that it was necessary to promote public confidence in the vaccination programme.
Latvia has had one of the lowest vaccine uptakes in the European Union, with only 53.6 per cent of the country receiving two doses of a vaccine compared to the EU average of 64.9 per cent, according to Euronews.
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After easing the national lockdown initiated last month, Latvia will join Austria next week in introducing a two-tiered society in which lockdown restrictions will apply but only to the unvaccinated.
The unvaccinated will have limits placed on them in terms of attending public and private events, entering shops, and receiving in-person education, Latvian news agency Leta reported.
On Friday, Austria announced that unvaccinated citizens in some regions will be prohibited from leaving their homes, with exceptions being carved out to buy groceries or to visit a doctor. The Austrian government is also planning on making vaccination a requirement for healthcare workers, although a deadline has yet to be specified.
Latvia is also not unique in requiring vaccination for MPs, with both Canada and the lockdown-happy Australian state of Victoria declaring in October that unvaccinated politicians will be prohibited from entering parliament.
Independent MP Catherine Cumming accused the local government at the time of attempting to crush dissent against the extension of emergency coronavirus powers by banning unvaccinated MPs.
“This seems to be a blatant attempt to make it easier for the government to get this legislation passed,” she said.
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