MINSK, 19 October (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke against mandatory mask, social distancing and vaccination requirements as he hosted a meeting to discuss the epidemiological situation and the COVID-19 response in Belarus on 19 October, BelTA has learned.
The president stated that in the situation with the coronavirus the Belarusian society is divided on the issue of protective efforts (masks, social distancing, etc.), as well as on vaccination. "I have to warn everyone. The president has the right to make such a decision. Masks, protective measures, and vaccination will be exclusively voluntary," he said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested acting by persuasion: "I do not exclude financial rewards, although I do not approve of them. Some enterprises offer such rewards to their workers to get vaccinated. Their reasoning is simple: the fewer sick workers are, the greater gain for the enterprise will be.”
"Any methods are acceptable, except for coercion. I warn everyone - the police, public health services and others. We have no legislative basis for this. The president has not made a decision to force people so something. We need to persuade them," the head of state said.
At the same time, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that in some cases it would be good if people wore masks. For example, in retail outlets, in transport. "As for retail, I would pay attention primarily to cashiers. This category of workers is exposed most of all in retail sector today. They need to be supported financially as well. Spending the whole day at a cash register with a face mask on is hard,” the president said.
“I have already expressed my opinion regarding face masks, PPE, social distancing and vaccination. No pressure on people. God forbid I get information that you kick people out of retail outlets, metro or buses. Because this is already turning into a political problem. People start hating each other. This should be done only on a voluntary basis,” stressed the Belarusian leader.
The head of state is sure that there is no need to wear face masks outdoors. “People should breathe fresh air outdoors. There is no need to make people wear face masks outdoors,” he said.
As for vaccination, Aleksandr Lukashenko once again stressed that it is important to get vaccinated. “We will always live with this infection. We need to vaccinate. We need to take additional efforts in this direction,” said the head of state.
According to the president, the main population groups that should be given priority attention today in terms of vaccination are the elderly and pregnant women.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the importance of preserving the ordinary way of life for people. In this regard, he once again stressed the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which, among other things, helps resist viruses and other diseases. “People need to spend more time outdoors, breathe in more fresh air to get their lungs work. Then, if they contract a disease, it will be easier for them to beat it,” said the head of state.