October 27, 2021

LITHUANIA: Covid Passport In Lithuania. First Hand Account Of How Recent Vaccine Mandate Laws Have Upended This Person's Family's Life. Sweden, Norway, Denmark Open WITH NO COVID PASSPORT

Covid Pass in Lithuania and throughout Europe:
How recent vaccine mandate laws have upended my family's life
written by Glubocco Lietuva

I want to share the situation which my family and I are now facing because of Covid Pass restrictions.

We live in the small European country of Lithuania. In the last few months, strict Covid Pass restrictions have been introduced which represent a fundamental transformation in society.

In this article, I'll describe the details of how the Covid Pass works in my country and how it affects my family. As a start, we're banned from shopping centers, non-essential stores, and restaurants. And my wife and I were both were suspended from our jobs without pay.

But as I'll explain, it's not just Lithuania. Covid Pass restrictions are being imposed throughout Europe. By my count, at least 14 European countries now have different types of domestic restrictions based on the Covid Pass. And every country has travel restrictions within Europe based on the Covid Pass.

There hasn't been much reporting in English-language media about what has happened. So I thought a detailed first-hand account would be useful.

My family, my country

Lithuania is a small EU country of 2.8 million people, located on the Baltic Sea, bordering Poland, Belarus, Russia, and Latvia.

Currently, 69% of the population over age 12 are Covid vaccinated.

My wife and I have two children. She is pregnant with our third child.

Neither my wife nor I are Covid vaccinated.

The Opportunity Pass

Lithuania introduced a Covid Pass for domestic use at the end of May, 2021. It's called the "Opportunity Pass" (Galimybiu pasas in our language). It's for all citizens and foreign residents aged 16 and over.

The Opportunity Pass allows you the opportunity to participate in society. Without it, you don't have opportunity: your rights are restricted.

You can get the Opportunity Pass in 3 ways:
  • If you've been vaccinated (approved vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, J&J).
  • A negative PCR test. Valid for 48 hours after the sample is collected.
  • Proof of having had Covid in the last 7 months. You must have had a positive PCR or antigen test result confirmed at the time by your family doctor and entered into your official medical records.
In the middle of August, our country added a fourth way to get the Opportunity Pass: "a sufficient level of antibodies" based on serological immunoassay for COVID-19 IgG antibodies or total antibodies test. Valid for 60 days after a test.

The Opportunity Pass is linked to your medical records in the national health system, all of which is organized under your national ID number.

The government app has an illustration showing the fun you'll have participating in the opportunities of society if you have the Opportunity Pass:

There is no illustration of people who do not have the Pass.

Restrictions for people without the Opportunity Pass

A law was passed on August 16 authorizing increased restrictions against people who do not have a valid Opportunity Pass. The restrictions were phased in over several weeks after passage of the law. All measures are in full effect since September 13.

Some of the restrictions include:
  • You cannot visit any cafes or restaurants.
  • You cannot enter any non-essential stores.
  • You cannot enter any shopping center or large store.
  • You cannot receive beauty services (hair, nails, salons, etc).
  • You cannot use repair services which last longer than 15 minutes.
  • You cannot enter public indoor spaces.
  • You cannot enter a fitness center, gym, or sauna.
  • You cannot attend outdoor events which have more than 500 people.
  • You cannot sit and read in libraries.
  • You may only use the library to pick up and return books.
  • You cannot travel by train. [The government temporarily rescinded this restriction for now because it's unworkable and causing chaos.]
  • You cannot enter banks or insurance agencies unless the purpose is to receive pensions or social benefits where the service lasts no more than 15 minutes.
  • Students cannot enter university without the Pass. [Because many students are not vaccinated, the government announced a grace period: until October, students may take free (i.e., government-paid) Covid tests to give them time to vaccinate. Starting in October, students must have the Opportunity Pass].
  • You cannot visit patients in medical facilities or senior care/residential homes. The only exception is for terminally-ill patients and children under 14 years of age if the doctor gives advance permission.
  • Regarding medical care:
  1. --- You may receive emergency care without the Opportunity Pass.
  2. --- For scheduled inpatient medical care, you must have the Covid Pass or Covid certificates.
  3. --- For outpatient services, the medical care must be conducted "in a safe environment" and will require testing "depending on the epidemiological situation".
Restrictions: what do they mean in practice?

There are many more rules, with lots of convoluted and sometimes conflicting provisions. And it's even more confusing because bureaucrats revise the rules almost daily. Here's how it currently works in practice if you don't have the Opportunity Pass:
  • For shopping, you are only allowed to shop in small stores (which have street entrances and whose main activity is to sell food, veterinary goods, pharmaceuticals, glasses and contact lenses, or farming supplies. You may not enter stores which mainly sell any other products. You may not enter any shopping mall. You may not enter large stores, including supermarkets.
  • For eating and drinking, you cannot visit any restaurant, cafe, or bar. This includes all indoor areas and most outdoor areas (the details are complicated; see separate section below).
  • For transportation, local city buses do not require the Opportunity Pass. But political leaders have indicated all forms of public transportation might require the Pass if they can figure out how to make it workable on busy buses and trains.
  • For medical care, inpatient services require the Covid Pass. For outpatient medical care (e.g., doctors' offices, specialist clinics, dental offices), medical facilities may allow a patient to enter who does not have the Opportunity Pass. But in practice, many clinics require the Opportunity Pass except for emergency situations.
In my area, outpatient medical facilities require the Covid Pass or certifications. Several days ago, my family was turned away from a medical facility because we did not have the Covid Pass. The medical facility offered us the option to come back if we returned with a negative PCR test. In a separate incident a few days later, we went to the dental office we've attended for years for an appointment for one of my children, but we were asked to leave when the staff discovered that I don't have the Opportunity Pass.


Employers may mandate that employees have the Opportunity Pass. Each company and industry is setting its own standards regarding if and how to implement the mandate.

In the case of my wife and myself, we work in different industries and have different occupations. But both our employers have separately created the same policy. People without the Opportunity Pass won't actually be fired, because that would create many legal issues, obligations, and unemployment benefits. Instead, employees are suspended without pay.

In our case, both my wife and I were suspended from our jobs without pay on September 13. We are allowed to return when we comply with the mandate to present a valid Covid Pass.

Using the Opportunity Pass

The Covid Pass is in the form of a QR code.

To use the Opportunity Pass, you show the QR code to a "verifier" (guard or staff at restaurants, stores, building, etc). The verifier scans your QR code. The scanner confirms that the Pass is authentic, verifies your safe health status, and displays your name and date of birth. You then show your ID to the verifier to confirm that the information in the Pass matches your ID and that the Pass therefore belongs to you.

Those who don't use smartphones may go to a government office or pharmacy to get a paper printout of the QR code. Government data shows that about one third of people use a paper Covid Pass instead of a phone.


The rules must be enforced by all private and public entities which are affected, e.g. restaurants, stores, buildings, medical facilities, etc. Government inspectors will check to ensure compliance. Citizens may also report any business which does not comply. Any business which does not properly enforce the Opportunity Pass is fined.

Here's how it looks in practice (pictures from 13-Sep-21 at the entrances of Lithuania's largest shopping mall and a large supermarket).

At the entrance to shopping malls and stores are guards who check the Opportunity Pass of every person who enters:

Large shopping centers have a machine scanner. When people reach the machine, they scan their Opportunity Pass. If the machine flashes a green light and beeps to signal that the Pass is valid, the guard allows that person to enter:

The machines are currently only installed in larger shopping centers. In other businesses, the guard uses a phone app to verify the QR code on the Opportunity Pass:

Both the machine and the phone app can also scan the paper printout for people who do not have a smartphone:

The guards in larger businesses have been specially trained. Said the head of the Lithuanian Retailers Association: "This is a new profession: Opportunity Pass Verifier. This is not a security guard. The Opportunity Passport Verifier staff must have been trained and have a type of license."

People who do not have a valid Opportunity Pass may not enter. At larger shopping malls, police are present to handle complaints from non-Pass holders:

At stores without police, workers handle the complaints. A representative for a major supermarket chain commented: "There have been conflicts because some people aren't happy with the new rules... Workers checking the Passes find it psychologically difficult to deal with all that negativity."

Restaurants, cafes, bars

Restaurants and bars also strictly enforce the Opportunity Pass. A small cafe doesn't have the manpower of a huge business to put guards at the door to stop you from entering. But staff are strict in asking for your documents before you order. For example, I've confirmed that every restaurant and cafe in my area requires the Opportunity Pass and refuses service to non-Pass holders.

Most enforcement is done by private businesses, but government inspectors also conduct spot checks. For example, a local restaurant owner told me that inspectors unexpectedly entered his place last week. Using a scanning app, the inspectors went from person to person to verify that everyone in the restaurant - customers and staff - had a valid Opportunity Pass and matching ID. Fortunately for the restaurant owner, he's strict about barring non-Pass holders, so the inspectors found that every person did indeed have a valid Opportunity Pass. If anyone didn't, the owner would have been fined.

(The owner told me this story when we bumped into each other on the street. We're friendly with each other, but I'm no longer allowed to enter his restaurant to chat, so we could only speak standing outside.)

Outdoor seats, indoor toilets

The law of August 16 bans people without a Covid Pass from all restaurants and cafes, both indoors and outdoors.

On September 10, the government modified the restriction so that people without a Pass may sit at outdoor cafes. They are required to wear masks and are limited to maximum 5 people at one table.

The law prohibits non-Pass holders from entering any adjacent buildings to use the toilet. So effectively, people without the Pass are banned from using indoor bathrooms at these places.

The rule caused problems because venues had to monitor bathroom access to ensure toilets are only used by people with a Covid Pass.

Stating that the government "is ready for dialogue", the Health Ministry announced on September 15 that non-Pass holders will be permitted to use indoor toilets. People without the Covid Pass are required to move directly to the bathroom without stopping at any other place indoors, and must properly wear facemasks during the toilet trip.

It's a moot point anyway because the weather has become too cold for most people to sit outside.

Coercion to vaccinate

The government contends that the vaccine is not mandatory because you can still get the Opportunity Pass if you have immunity from infection or if you do tests.

However, it's a fig-leaf to mask the pressure to vaccinate.

Our government pays lip service to immunity from prior infection, but in practice makes it difficult to use as a basis to receive the Opportunity Pass. Officials explain that they've made it burdensome because they don't want citizens to purposefully infect themselves in order to avoid vaccination.

As for the testing option, it is similarly designed to be difficult. Before the introduction of the Covid Pass regime, people could get tests for free at various places through the government health plan. Now, it's mandatory that testing for the Opportunity Pass must be done at a private lab or medical institute - no mobile labs or home tests - and be paid privately. A negative result is valid for only 48 hours from the time of the sample. So you would have to do a test every 1-2 days in order to live your life freely. The money and time make that difficult for the vast majority of people.

Additionally, if you get a positive test result, even if you have no symptoms, you and all your contacts must isolate for 10 days, which for many people means the loss of income from work.

Only PCR tests allowed

Our government mandated that only a PCR test is acceptable to get the Pass, rather than the cheaper rapid antigen test. Government leaders explicitly created this requirement in order to increase the burden of testing.

The burden of the PCR test is the time and money. Labs offer PCR tests for 60-75 eur and give results in 12-24 hours. The government only recognizes the test as valid for 48 hours from when the swab sample is taken, not from when you receive the result from the lab. With the wait to get the result, this means you would need a test almost every day in order to maintain a valid Covid Pass and continue your life without restrictions.

That number of tests would cost more than 1000 eur in lab fees per person per month, plus the time of going to the lab.

The government explicitly created this burden of time and money, as well as the risk of being forced into isolation, in order to promote vaccination instead of testing.

There's been a lot of controversy about the PCR-only requirement because it's obviously vindictive, so the Cabinet has indicated that they are changing the rules to also allow the cheaper antigen test.

But whatever form of a test they allow, the intention is clear: the government is putting maximum pressure on us to get vaccinated. Our freedom has become conditional on vaccination or daily testing.

We oppose this coercion.

Why don't we want the Pass?

My wife and I are not opposed to Covid vaccinations. Vaccination can be beneficial for many people. It's a personal medical decision which should be made by each individual in consultation with their doctor.

What we strongly oppose are vaccine mandates. The government should not force us to undergo a medical treatment against our will. Our rights as citizens should not be restricted because we do not undergo this medical treatment.

Medical exemptions: only allergies

We oppose the Opportunity Pass out of principle. We believe that Covid-vaccine mandates are wrong in all circumstances.

But in our own case, we have a further issue.

My wife has a long-term progressive disease. Based on data from both the vaccine trials and countries which publish real-world side-effect statistics, we are worried that the vaccine could trigger serious side effects in the short-term, or worsen her condition in the long-term.

Additionally, she's pregnant with our third child.

We discussed our concerns with the specialist doctor who has treated her for years. The doctor researched the topic and reached the opinion that she is at increased risk of severe adverse effects due to her condition. We presented to the authorities a note written by the doctor detailing my wife's situation and the conclusion that vaccination is therefore not worth the risk for her.

Our request was rejected. My wife will not receive an exemption from the Opportunity Pass restrictions. We received no explanation. As far as we know, there is no appeal.

We don't know what happened in her case. But in general, our government is opposed to medical exemptions. The authorities have announced that they only allow medical exemptions in cases where a certified allergist doctor finds, through extensive documented testing, that a person is severely allergic to the substance within the vaccine (anaphylactic reactions). In an interview, an official of the Ministry of Health stated that such an allergy is the only allowable exemption and the Ministry dislikes "the tendency to use medical excuses as a justification to not vaccinate".

The politics

When Covid vaccines began in December 2020, political leaders in Lithuania emphasized that vaccination was voluntary.

As vaccination rates increased in spring 2021 and development began on the Covid Pass, mainstream political views changed. Now, the consensus among all major politicians is that unvaccinated people should not have equal rights.

Here are some representative quotes said by our leaders in the last two months:
  • "People who do not get vaccinated are a threat to our health, to the country's economy, to business, and to human life."
  • "I urge you to avoid associating with the unvaccinated, because associating with the deliberately unvaccinated is the same as getting into a car with a drunk driver."
  • "If you don't get vaccinated, then go prepare your grave."
  • "The Opportunity Pass will allow us to live as freely as can be possible during a global pandemic... The Opportunity Pass is the only way to not shut down our economy and to let people enjoy their favorite restaurants, cafes, and shops."
  • "To not vaccinate yourself means that you will spread it, because anyone who does not vaccinate is a potential spreader. Not vaccinating yourself, and encouraging others to not vaccinate, are not yet crimes. We are - still - gentle and polite. But therefore, we suffer because we do not stop the unvaccinated with the force of law and order. However, it can be done. We are at war. Let us reflect among ourselves and the coalition government on whether the state is really doing everything it can to fight the virus that is the anti-vaxxers."
In a publicity move, the Economics Minister (left-most in picture below) visited cafes and bars to promote the Opportunity Pass. She wrote on her Facebook page:
  • "With 634 cases per day, it was impossible to imagine recently we could have 'normal life'. Yet today, we can enjoy the autumn and return to many of our activities without any restrictions... Our goal is that vaccines and the Opportunity Pass will help keep businesses open and operating. I am very pleased that businesses are helping us in this difficult hour."
Government statistics show that from August 27 to September 15, 172 people died of Covid. Of them, 35, or 20%, were fully vaccinated. The other 80% were either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated; the data does not show the breakdown.

To fight the rising numbers, officials launched booster injections. Under the "re-vaccination program", people will get a third injection of Pfizer or Moderna six months after their last injection, starting with seniors and then progressing to the entire population.

As they roll out the re-vaccination injections, leaders have discussed further measures in the last week:
  • The President: "Compulsory, or forced, vaccination is the sole possibility if we want a smooth process to face the challenge of the burden imposed by the Delta variant".
  • The Prime Minister: "Cases are rising. Large numbers of people chose not to be vaccinated, which is why they died from this disease. The government gave people time to get vaccinated. But the pace of vaccination slowed down. Therefore, we had to impose restrictions unfortunately. These restrictions are a quarantine of the unvaccinated... Additional restrictions may be needed, but for now I hope to avoid this."
  • The Vice-Minister for Health: "We are likely to start the fourth and fifth booster shots in several months."
To further encourage vaccination, our government is drafting a law to deny sickness benefits to people who have not been vaccinated against Covid and become sick from the virus. Currently, workers pay a mandatory health insurance fee. This funds a sickness benefit program which pays 62% of salary if a worker becomes seriously ill or incapacitated. But there are several limited exceptions: a person receives nothing if the sickness is the result of alcohol or drug abuse, fraud, or criminal activity. The new law will add refusal to get Covid-vaccinated as another reason for an ill person to not receive benefits.

Please CLICK HERE to read the entire detailed article...

No comments: