By Andrius Sytas
VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuania on Wednesday agreed to roll out national digital COVID-19 immunity certificates by early May to allow some people to bypass restrictions on certain activities including dining indoors, attending sporting events and holding large parties.
A QR code called Freedom ID will be available to those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus as well as those who have previously contracted the virus and recovered. Those who test negative for the virus also will be eligible.
"This will be an incentive for the decision to get vaccinated", Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told a televised government meeting.
The code will be issued on request by the country's digitized health system, and would be eventually integrated with the COVID-19 travel certificate proposed by the European Union.
Lithuania's government may pay for the antigen tests needed to get a temporary Freedom ID for few days, and will work to increase testing capabilities to cope with the expected demand.
Simonyte shot down a similar initiative in January, saying then it could encourage people who wanted additional freedoms to get infected on purpose.
As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines gathers pace, countries are exploring how documents, mostly digital, could help reopen borders by identifying those who have protection from the virus.
Denmark is easing its own COVID-19 restrictions this month contingent on the use of similar coronavirus "passports."
Lithuania has sharply reduced its COVID-19 infection rates since the beginning of the year, when it reported the highest rate of infection in the 27-member EU.
After months of strict curbs on movement, the Baltic nation of 2.8 million people reported 389 cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks ended Sunday, giving it the 17th highest rate of infection among the EU nations, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Separately, Lithuania's government agreed on Wednesday to relax its COVID-19 lockdown over the next few weeks, a move that would include reopening schools, shops and cinemas and allowing food and drinks to be served outside.
(Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Paul Simao)