Armenia’s parliament approved a law Friday that would allow employers to fire workers who refuse to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test result.
Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the Caucasus region.
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The new rule follows an August order by the ministry of health which required Armenian citizens to provide their employers with proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test every two weeks or face a fine.
“If the employee is not providing a vaccination certificate, or a negative COVID-19 test, the employer is given the right to turn the employee away from the workplace, suspend their pay and fire the employee, if they are off for 10 working days because of that,” Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Ruben Sargsyan said Friday.
The new vaccination requirement will not apply to the country’s president, prime minister, members of parliament or the National Assembly, the ombudsman, judges of the Constitutional Court and a number of other officials, Sargsyan said.
“This exception was established for the reason that these positions are either (institutional), as in the case of parliamentary deputies, or their holders are appointed in accordance with the Constitution,” he said.
Armenia began its mass vaccination campaign in April with authorities planning to inoculate 700,000 of the country’s 2.9 million citizens by the end of the year. However, only 516,989 citizens had been fully vaccinated by Dec. 6.
In Armenia, citizens can choose to get vaccinated with the Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, CoronaVac, Sinopharm or Moderna jabs.