Week in Lithuania: 201,200 vaccine doses to be sent to Latvia, President vetoes bill requiring unvaccinated workers to pay for tests

Last week, the top news in Lithuania were the President rejecting bill mandating unvaccinated, humanitarian aid to Latvia in the form of vaccines and a new sports funding model.
Rimi Lithuania sees its revenue grow by more than 10 percent
Rimi Lietuva (Rimi Lithuania), the owner of one of Lithuania’s largest retail grocery chains, posted 290.3 million euros in revenue for the first three quarters of this year, up 11.6 percent from the same period last year, the company announced on Wednesday, November 3. Rimi Baltic operates 289 stores up from 283 at the start of this tear. They include 131 stores in Latvia (131), 83 (84) in Estonia and 75 (68) in Lithuania.
Apotheka to acquire Lithuanian pharmacy chain
Estonian drug wholesale and retail company Magnum AS operating under the Apotheka brand has signed an agreement for obtaining 100 percent of the UAB Apotheca Vaistine pharmacy chain in Lithuania. As a result of the transaction, Apotheka’s coverage in Lithuania will grow by several-fold. The transaction, which is currently pending approval by the Lithuanian Competition Authority, marks one of Magnum’s largest one-off investments over the past ten years, the company said on Wednesday, November 3.
Apranga’s October sales rise above 2019 levels
Apranga’s chief executive officer, Rimantas Perveneckas, announced on Wednesday, November 3, that the Baltic retail group’s sales in Lithuania and Estonia in October surpassed their 2019 levels. In October, year-on-year, the group’s sales jumped by 10.3 percent in Lithuania and by 8.9 percent in Estonia, but slumped down by 26.9 percent in Latvia where new restrictions were introduced last month.
Lithuania plans to send 201,200 Pfizer vaccine doses to Latvia
Lithuania announced on Wednesday, November 3, of plans to send over 201,200 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine as humanitarian aid to Latvia. The doses should be provided to the neighbouring country by November 19 from vaccines procured under the advance purchase agreement. The Lithuanian Cabinet is expected to discuss this issue shortly.
Lastauskas proposed for Lithuania’s ambassador to Latvia
The government nominated on Wednesday, November 3, Valdas Lastauskas for the post of Lithuania’s ambassador to Latvia.  If President Gitanas Nausėda approves his nomination, Lastauskas will take office on December 1, replacing Artūras Žurauskas whose term ended last summer. A lawyer by education, Latakas started working with the Foreign Ministry in 1991. He worked in business and as a lecturer for a while before returning to the diplomatic service in 2005. He served as chancellor of the Foreign Ministry in 2011-2013 and then as chancellor of the Energy Ministry in 2013-2014. He later served as Lithuania’s ambassador to Azerbaijan.
President vetoes bill affecting unvaccinated workers
President Gitanas Nausėda vetoed on Wednesday, November 3, a bill to require unvaccinated workers in certain professions to pay for their mandatory regular COVID-19 tests. The regulation envisaged in the amended Law on Communicable Diseases could significantly reduce access to compulsory testing for COVID-19 and discourage people from taking these tests, according to the Nausėda. This would lead to delayed diagnosis and uncontrolled spread of COVID-19, the president’s office said in a press release.
Read also: Lithuanian Health Minister rejects Christmas lockdown recommendation
Updated national security strategy highlights threats
The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, November 3, an updated National Security Strategy highlighting threats from Russia, Belarus and China. The strategy was previously discussed by the president-chaired State Defence Council and will now go to the parliament for final adoption.
Siemens Energy wins contract for synchronous condensers
The Lithuanian branch of Germany’s Siemens Energy Global and Finland’s Siemens Energy has won a contract to design, manufacture and install synchronous condensers necessary for synchronising Lithuania’s electricity grid with the continental European system. Litgrid, the power transmission system operator, said on Wednesday, November 3, that its shareholders would decide on December 1 whether approve the contract worth 87.7 million euros, not including VAT. The condensers are to be installed in the transformer substations of Alytus, Telšiai and Neris (Vilnius District) by late 2024.
Border guards turn away 87 migrants on border with Belarus
Lithuanian border guards turned away over Wednesday, November 3, 87 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Thursday, November 4. No migrants have been allowed into the country on humanitarian grounds. The SBGS said border guards and troops assisting them had not used their service guns, special measures or physical coercion over the past 24 hours. Over 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally so far this year.
Belam LT to deploy 3.4 million euro-worth train passenger IS
LTG Infra, the infrastructure arm of the state railway group Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), will integrate more than 50 stations into a unified information system that will inform passengers about train timetables, traffic changes or safety. Belam LT has won a contract worth 3.38 million euros to carry out the project by July 2023, the company said on Thursday, November 4. LTG Infra CEO Karolis Sankovski says there is currently no centralised passenger information system in Lithuania, with some stations having their own separate systems.
Parliament adopts plan to mitigate energy price hikes
The Lithuanian parliament approved on Thursday, November 4, the government’s plan to mitigate the impact of soaring natural gas and electricity prices on households. The Seimas passed amendments to five laws to keep natural gas, electricity and heating prices from increasing as much as they otherwise would as of next January. The measures include spreading out the increase in natural gas prices over five years and pushing back the deadline for around 500,000 consumers to choose their independent electricity supplier by six months.
Lithuania legalises new sports funding model
The Seimas of Lithuania has changed the existing taxation scheme for lottery organisers. As of July, they will have to pay a 13 percent tax from sold tickets into the state budget after lawmakers on Thursday, November 4, backed amendments to the Laws on Lottery and Gambling Tax.
Lithuania reports 3,183 new coronavirus cases, 22 deaths
Lithuania registered 3,183 new coronavirus infections and 22 deaths from COVID-19 over Thursday, November 4, the country’s statistics office said on Friday, November 5. Nineteen of the fatalities were either not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated. The 14-day infection rate has edged up to 1,397.2 per 100,000 people, and the seven-day percentage of positive tests has ticked up to 17.9 percent.