Week in Lithuania: Mandatory vaccination for professions passed, second stage of building fence at Belarus border launched

Last week, the top news stories in Lithuania were the approval of mandatory vaccination for certain professions, the start of the second stage of building fence at Belarus border and  Lithuanian prosecutors dropping a probe into hiding of Afghans.
If needed, Lithuania would impose three-week lockdown
If the epidemiological situation in Lithuania gets worse and there was a need for a lockdown, it would last for three weeks and would involve remote learning and movement restrictions, Health minister Arūnas Dulkys said on Monday, December 27. The government has earlier decided to impose tight restrictions only if the ICU bed occupancy number reaches 240 beds.
Lithuania vaccinates 242 migrants with first dose, 122 take second jab
A total of 242 migrants in Lithuania have received their first coronavirus vaccine shots and 122 have been given the second jab, the National Blood Centre said on Monday, December 27. The centre’s staff started administering the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shots to migrants in their accommodation centres in Rukla, Kybartai and Medininkai in mid-October, with the focus on families and children aged 12 and over. Daumantas Gutauskas, the centre’s director, says the staff were faced with certain challenges during the process.
Read also: Great troubles and their solutions. BNN’s summary of 2021 in global and Baltic news
Ministers see approval ratings slump
The Belarusian fertilizers scandal sent public trust in the Lithuanian government to a near-record low this month, according to a Vilmorus poll published on Tuesday, December 28. The poll showed trust in the government fall to a mere 17.3 percent in December, from 21 percent in November, and distrust rise to 47.8 percent, from 39.6 percent. Transport minister Marius Skuodis’ approval rating dipped to 9.5 percent this month, from 13.1 in November, as his disapproval rating surged to 47 percent, from 25.1 percent. Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis was viewed favourably by 15.3 percent of respondents and unfavourably by 66.4 percent, compared to 21 percent and 59.8 percent, respectively, last month.
Lithuania launches second stage of building physical barrier at Belarus border
Epso-G, Lithuania’s state-owned energy group that is responsible for the construction of a physical barrier at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, has launched the project’s second stage, the Lithuanian government reported on Tuesday, December 28. On the south-eastern section of approximately 100 kilometres, concertina wire and the fence will be installed by Brost, and on the eastern part of approximately 100 kilometres, concertina wire and the fence will be installed by Tetas, part of the EPSO-G group. In early December, the four companies signed their contracts worth a total of almost 90 million euros and are expected to complete works by September, 2022.
Lithuanian consumer confidence down 1 pp in December
Lithuania’s consumer confidence indicator went down by 1 percentage point in December from November to minus 3, the latest figures from Lithuania’s statistics service, Statistics Lithuania, showed on Wednesday, December 29. Consumers were more pessimistic about the changes in households’ financial situation over the last 12 months, households’ financial and the country’s economic prospects and planned to spend a bit more money on major purchases. Year-on-year, the indicator remained unchanged.
Lithuanian prosecutors drop probe into hiding of Afghans
Prosecutors from Lithuania’s Utena District have decided to drop their pre-trial investigation into alleged hiding of Afghans after they illegally crossed the Lithuanian-Belarusian border. In a statement issued on Wednesday, December 29, the prosecutor said the actions of the persons who provided accommodation to five Afghans for several days and were later questioned as special witnesses cannot be deemed as intentional active hiding. The pre-trial investigation was launched in the middle of September by Lithuania’s State Border Guard Service after it received information that five illegal migrants from Afghanistan stayed for several days at a homestead in Ignalina District. Border guards learned about them after the European Court of Human Rights introduced interim measures in their case and banned Lithuanian from sending them back.
Lithuania earmarks 6 million euros for businesses hit by China’s restrictions
The government earmarked on Wednesday, December 29, 6 million euros for businesses affected by China’s restrictions. Finance Minister Gintare Skaistė said the money will be help businesses boost their competitiveness and diversify markets. Economy and Innovation Minister Aušrinė Armonaitė said the measure includes 5 million euros for presenting companies’ products abroad and 1 million euros for covering product certification costs. Armonaitė also said that the government is seeking the European Commission’s approval for a 130-million-euro package of working capital loans. A company will be able to take a loan of up to 5 million euros and will have to repay the money within 12 months.
Lithuania approves mandatory vaccinations for medical, social workers
The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, December 29, approved draft legislation to introduce mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for health and social sector workers. The package will now be tabled to the parliament for approval. The government will ask the parliament too debate and vote on the amendments under a fast-track procedure. If passed, the package could come into force on February 14.
Lithuania established national coordination cyber security centre
The Lithuanian Defence Ministry is setting up a National Coordination Centre (NCC) to promote the development of the cyber security industry in the country, the ministry announced on Wednesday, December 29. The NCC will provide cyber security expertise and will contribute to the dissemination of cybersecurity education programs in Lithuania, to the implementation of EU strategic documents in cybersecurity, and to the creation of an EU cybersecurity community, according to the press release. The centre is being set up in Lithuania in line with an EU directive that provides for the establishment of such centres in all 27 member countries. The directive came into force this year.
Lithuania reports 1,697 new coronavirus cases, 14 deaths
Lithuania registered 1,697 new coronavirus infections and 14 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the country’s statistics office said on Thursday, December 30. Eleven of the fatalities were either not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated. A total of 21,049 people have been vaccinated over the past 24 hours, including 1,910 with their first dose. The total number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has dropped by several dozen to 1,050, including 104 ICU cases. The 14-day infection rate now stands at 713.5 per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 12.9 percent. Overall, almost 517,600 people in Lithuania have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The death toll has reached around 7,400.