Only Covid-19 vaccinated or recovered deputies are allowed to work in the Saeima

On Friday, 12 November, Latvia’s Saeima passed the Law on Temporary Additional Measures for Saeima Deputies and Municipal Administration Deputies. The parliament decided that deputies who are not vaccinated and who have not recovered from Covid-19 in recent time will not be allowed to participate in meetings of the Saeima, its committees and other institutions after 15 November.
It was outlined in the initial redaction of the legislative draft that non-vaccinated deputies would not be able to participate in meetings in person. Now this prohibition will extend also for remote meetings.
The proposal was submitted by factions in the ruling coalition: Attīstībai/Par!, New Unity, New Conservative Party and National Alliance.
The law states that from 15 November onward only Saeima deputies who present a valid Covid-19 certificate that proves their vaccination or recovery status, as well as deputies who present a notice from a clinical university hospital specialist on postponement of vaccination or a negative test result, will be permitted to participate in the work of the parliament.
Deputies will need to present a Covid-19 certificate to members of the parliament’s Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee, unless the deputy does not present information regarding their certificate to the Saeima Administration in advance.
Deputies who do not have a valid vaccination/recovery certificate, negative test result will not be allowed to participate in meetings.
Deputies who are not allowed to participate will have their salary and compensations frozen.
Payments will continue on the day the deputy presents the Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee a valid Covid-19 certificate.
If a deputy fails to secure and present one after 15 November, the committee will need to report this at the next Saeima meeting.
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It was decided following a proposal from coalition factions that the objective of this law is establishing additional requirements for Saeima deputies.
According to authors of the proposal, this requirement is intended to promote trust in the government during the pandemic and ensure an epidemiologically safe working environment for decision-making in the parliament.
The law will remain in force until 1 June 2022. The Saeima Praesidium will perform evaluation of this restriction at least one in two months.
Saeima Legal Affairs Bureau manager Dina Meistere mentioned at a previous meeting of the parliament’s Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee that these amendments are in breach of the Constitution, because this would result in suspension of healthy deputies. She also stressed there isn’t a single EU member state that has rules of this kind.
Chairman of the Defence Committee Juris Rancāns says deputies who feel the need will be able to challenge amendments in the Constitutional Court, adding that the changes were proposed based on the large number of infections and deaths.