On October 11, MP Aram Vardevanyan told reporters that he hoped that the Fact-Finding Platform (FIP.am) would edit the article about him as soon as possible, as he considered it wrong.
“I noticed that (it was called a fact-checking platform if I am not mistaken), they insisted that my statement was wrong. Of course, I expect that they will edit their statement in a very short time because they bring examples of European countries where it is not mandatory in any of them. For example, it says that you are either vaccinated or present a test result. That doesn’t mean that it is obligatory,” said Vardevanyan.
What does Vardevanyan mean and what article did FIP.am write?
On October 7, FIP.am referred to a Facebook post made by the deputy representing the “Armenia” bloc, Aram Vardevanyan, on the same day. The MP’s assertion that there is no mandatory vaccination in any European country was misquoted by FIP.am, citing the examples of Italy, Greece and France.
Aram Vardevanyan called the FIP.am article incorrect on October 11, as there is an alternative to vaccination in the mentioned countries – testing. The deputy, however, forgot to mention that in Armenia the vaccination is also not obligatory, here, as in the mentioned countries, employees either present a negative test result every two weeks or a vaccination certificate.
Later, Vardevanyan was also hosted in the “Channel 5” studio, where he announced that the testing was free in European countries. “During one of the meetings with the representatives of the Embassy, I asked direct questions and asked, ‘Well, what is the international experience?’ It was said in an international practice that you either had to be vaccinated or you had to get a PCR test. The answer to the question of who pays for the test was unequivocal, of course, the state.”
Vardevanyan’s assertion that the cost of testing in Europe is covered by the state is outdated.
It is true that in April of this year the EU adopted a policy of free testing, and in many member countries the tests were free, but due to the rate of the spread of the coronavirus, the policy changed. In three of the countries mentioned by the same FIP.am, France, Germany and Greece, testing was free, but with the changes coming into force soon, testing will become paid there as well. Thus, the states want to stimulate the increase of vaccines.
Anti-epidemic rules in Italy will be stricter from October 15. All employees who do not present a vaccination or health certificate will not be eligible to attend work and will not be paid. The employer cannot dismiss them. Those who ignore this decision and in any case go to work without a certificate will be fined 600-1500 euros.
There was a wave of protests against paid testing in Italy. People demanded that the government make testing free for employees. The Italian government did not comply with this demand. Instead, it announced that the cost of testing for employees would be limited to 15 euros.
In March 2021, the Greek government announced that citizens would receive free COVID-19 test kits in April. Customers could get a rapid test from pharmacies once a week by submitting their National Security Number (AMKA). Greece announced the refusal of free testing on August 24. The rule came into force on September 13.
On September 26, French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that COVID-19 tests would no longer be free. The rule also applies to tourists.
These are not cases when a person has symptoms of the disease. The tests will continue to be free for citizens under 18 and for those who have symptoms. In all other cases, they will be paid. The law will come into force on October 15. According to the French government, the cost of PCR tests in the country is 49 euros.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in August that COVID-19 tests would not be free in the country. Rapid testing in Germany has been free of charge since March this year, for both tourists and German citizens. According to the authorities, this step will help speed up the vaccination process.
Switzerland also announced the termination of free testing for the unvaccinated in August this year. According to the authoritative media, the tests in Great Britain will become chargeable next year as well, although at the moment the procedure of free testing is still valid for people of specific groups.
To sum up, in Armenia, as in many EU countries, vaccination is not mandatory, here you can submit a negative test result every two weeks and go to work. As for free tests, they were indeed free in many European countries, but with the epidemic getting worse, the rules began to change and governments announced that they would make them chargeable again.