Lower house rejects new Covid-19 bill

The Sejm rejected the bill in a 253-152 vote, with 37 abstentions. Paweł Supernak/PAP

The Sejm, lower house of parliament, has rejected a Covid-19 bill which envisaged the possibility for free-of-charge testing of employees and increased fines for the violation of epidemic regulations.

The bill was submitted, last week, by a group of MPs from Law and Justice, Poland's governing party. Under the draft, employees were to be able to take a test for SARS-CoV-2 free of charge and employers were to be allowed to request information from employees about test results.

The Sejm rejected the bill in a 253-152 vote, with 37 abstentions.

Katarzyna Lubnauer of the Civic Coalition (KO) said during a heated debate that the bill was an attempt to replace a vaccination programme with a programme of "snitching" on each other. She also said it was based on an absurd assumption that the workplace was the only place where one can become infected.

A Polish Coalition MP said that the bill showed that the government and the ruling party neither wanted to fight against the coronavirus pandemic nor knew how to do so.

The Left stated that the bill mocked the fundamental principles of the state of law and social life based on mutual trust.

Earlier in the day, the Sejm Health Committee recommended that the lower house reject the bill.

The draft had been earlier criticised by employers' organisations which said that it would do little to reduce infections in the workplace.