(Reuters) – Latvia’s parliament voted on Friday to ban lawmakers who refuse COVID-19 vaccine from voting on legislature and participating in discussions.
Latvia, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in European Union, was the first in the bloc to reimpose a lockdown this autumn as a surge in COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm its health system.
The restrictions on vaccine-rejecting lawmakers, which includes docking their pay, was supported by 62 of its 100 lawmakers, and will last from Monday until mid-2022.
State television reported that nine MPs have rejected the vaccine.
The ban on unvaccinated MPs in parliament was necessary to promote public confidence in the government’s policies to control COVID-19 infections, the legislation’s sponsor, lawmaker Janis Rancans, was cited as saying by the parliamentary press service.
Latvia, home to 1.9 million people, has reported 236,765 infections and 3,646 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.
(Reporting by Janis Laizans and Andrius Sytas in Kapciamiestis, Lithuania; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)