Armenia: unvaccinated persons will have to take PCR tests or risk losing jobs
In Armenia, employers must require employees to provide a vaccination certificate or a negative coronavirus test result every two weeks. Those who, for health reasons, are not able to get vaccinated, must provide the employer with an appropriate medical certificate. These requirements are included in the law on civil servants. The amendments will enter into force on October 1.
This law applies only to civil servants and employees of local government bodies. However, verbally, officials, in particular, Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan speak about “employers” in general. Therefore, uncertainty reigns in society, discussions are underway and no final answer is insight.
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Whether to get vaccinated or periodically take a PCR test – everyone is free to decide for themselves but one of these documents will be required. If the employee does not provide the required certificate, this will be the basis for not admitting him to work.
The draft was presented for public discussion by the Ministry of Justice on the e-draft.am platform. 3,050 citizens voted “for” the amendment, 2,389 “against”.
What the law says
According to the law on civil servants, an employee will not be allowed to the workplace if he does not submit a PCR test or a certificate that he has been vaccinated on time.
And “failure to fulfill their duties” is the basis for “termination of powers or dismissal from office”,
- if the employee did not fulfill his work (official) duties for more than 30 days in a row
- or more than 50 days in the last twelve months.
This legislative initiative is expected to help protect public health and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
What caused public outrage
Some residents of Armenia openly declare that they do not trust the vaccines created just a few months ago and they don’t want to spend up to 30,000 drams (about $ 60) on the required two PCR tests per month.
The main argument against the amendments to the law is the following: if this is done for our health, let testing be free and vaccinations voluntary.
At the same time, many are outraged by the “list of exceptions”.
It includes high-ranking officials: the president of the country, the prime minister, deputies of the National Assembly, leaders of urban and rural communities, and a public defender.
“It turns out that some of the officials included in the above list decide to vaccinate us, the citizens of Armenia, with a vaccine that has not yet been properly examined, but they do not risk their health, they are not vaccinated”, one of the residents of Armenia wrote in a comment on e-draft.am.
People considered the inclusion of civil servants on the exemption list as discrimination.
However, the Ministry of Justice, on the same website, where the draft law was discussed until September 16, replied that the list of exceptions includes “persons who hold an elective position or have been appointed as a result of constitutional processes, as well as those who, due to their status and position, do not actually have a higher body or official appointing or dismissing them”.
Thus, it is argued that the exceptions are “due to objective reasons”, there is no discrimination.
Comments of the opponents of amendments
“This is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia”.
“I am totally against this project. Vaccinations can be stimulated by other methods without requiring tests twice a month for 30,000 AMD or threatening to be fired”.
“Make testing free. Vaccination should only be done on a voluntary basis”.
“I’m against it! Nobody can force me to get vaccinated! I’m not a bunny to experiment with. Who will be responsible if the vaccinated person has health problems or dies? This is a gross violation of human rights!”
“According to what logic should I have a PCR test every two weeks, if a person can take the test and become infected ten minutes after that, or be in the passive phase of the disease, get a negative answer and become infectious after a few hours?”
“If you are worried about the health of the population, then make the test free of charge or covered by special social packages. Do not increase the burden of the people, do not replenish the army of the unemployed”.
“Why is the PCR test required only for the unvaccinated? Vaccinated people can also ger infected, in which case they must also undergo a PCR test every 14 days. This is a discriminatory attitude towards citizens. In addition, the financial situation of the majority of the population does not allow them to pay for tests, let the state pay for them”.
“According to the fifth point of the bill, MPs are exempt from the requirement to undergo vaccination and PCR. Question: what is the logic? Maybe parliamentary immunity also includes high physical immunity, they cannot get infected? “