Twitter Thread: Lithuania COVID Pass Tyranny
In just 6 weeks, the Covid Pass has transformed my country into a regime of control and segregation. This is the new society created in Lithuania, the nation furthest along the path to the authoritarianism inevitably facing all countries which impose a Covid Pass regime: The Covid Pass in Lithuania is called the “Opportunity Pass”. The Opportunity Pass allows you the opportunity to participate in society. Without the Opportunity Pass, you don’t have opportunity: your rights are restricted. My wife and I don’t have the Covid Pass. We refuse to accept the authoritarianism and control of the new regime. So we’ve lost our jobs and been banished from most of society. It’s been 6 weeks so far. There is currently no end date planned for the new regime.
With no Pass, we may only enter small shops with street entrances which mainly sell essential goods: food, pharma, optics, or farm/pet goods. This convenience store meets the requirements, so we may enter.
Every other store must, by law, ban people without the Pass. In Lithuanian, the Pass is called “Galimybių pasas”, abbreviated as “GP”. “GP” signs are now ubiquitous at stores and public buildings to signal compliance with the policy of banishment.
All shopping centers ban people without the Covid Pass. Machines have been installed to scan and verify the Pass of each person who enters. No Pass, no entrance.
This is a clothing store. By law, it must ban my wife and me because we don’t have the Covid Pass. Clothing is not considered essential.
Why is an ID needed to shop, in addition to a Pass? To verify the Pass is yours. e.g: A construction worker wanted food for his morning shift. Without his own Pass, he used his boss’s QR code to enter a supermarket. Police fined the man 5,000 eur and issued a press release.
This is a sporting goods store. The guard is using a phone app to verify the customer’s Pass. Without a Pass, my wife and I may not enter this store.
At all supermarkets >1500m2, guards scan each customer’s Pass. My wife and I may not shop in these supermarkets: no Pass, no entrance.
The law bans people without the Pass from all non-essential services and economic activities. This is a religious supply store. It’s not considered essential. So by law, the owner must ban my wife and me.
We’re banned from bookstores. Only people with a Covid Pass may enter. Because we don’t have a Pass, my wife and I cannot take our two children here.
My family enjoys crafts. But without a Pass, we can no longer enter knitting stores to buy yarn and other supplies.
Without a Covid Pass, we can’t take our children to art supply stores. We’re also not allowed to pick up online orders.
We’re not allowed to receive any beauty services, e.g., hair, nails, skincare. This is a barber. No Pass, no entrance.
Without a Pass, we may not receive repair services which last longer than 15 minutes. This is an online ad for a shop which repairs iPhone screens: “Don’t have a Pass? We can register you by phone and then we’ll collect your device outside the entrance!”
Second-hand stores are not exempt. No one may buy or sell without the Pass. This is Humana, an international group which collects and sells second-hand clothing. No Pass, no entrance.
Without a Pass, we may not visit patients in medical facilities or senior care/residential homes. The only exception is for terminally-ill patients, pregnant women, or children under 14 years of age, if the doctor gives advance permission.
Without a Pass, we cannot enter most government buildings. So we can’t talk to government officials in person. This is the website of the city of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania: “As of 13-Sept, we only provide in-person service to people who have the Opportunity Pass.”
Without a Covid Pass, we may not enter banks or insurance companies, except for essential financial purposes where the service lasts no longer than 15 minutes.
Bubble tea cafe. Sushi restaurant. After-work bar. Latin eatery and salsa club. All restaurants, cafes, and bars require the Opportunity Pass.
At libraries, my family may only pick up and drop off books. Without a Covid Pass, we may not browse, read, or research. The library has separate entrances to enforce the segregation. The sign on the main door says: “↑ Only with the Opportunity Pass → Without the Pass”
Until 6 weeks ago, the library was one of my family’s favorite activities. Now, my wife and I are banned from entering with our two young children. People with the Pass enter through the main door on the street, scan their Pass, and freely use the library’s facilities,
With no Pass, we may not enter the main door. Instead, a series of signs direct us to a service entry behind the driveway: a) “Place for those with no Pass” b) “Pick-up/drop-off point for pre-ordered books (no Pass). Enter one at a time. Wear mask. Max 15 mins per person.”
The final destination for those of us with no Pass is a corridor where we may pick up and drop off books which we order in advance. We must enter one at a time. We sit on the chair while staff get our pre-ordered book. Maximum 15 mins. The sign says: “Book pick-up point.”
All this should be global headlines: “Lithuania bans citizens from society! Other EU countries following soon!” But there’s scant reporting about this fundamental transformation in society. Or about the segregation and authoritarianism which has been the inevitable result. Lithuania’s Covid Pass started in May as a temporary measure. The goal: “facilitate economic activity”. In August, the temporary measure to help the economy became a permanent law to banish people from society.
Temporary expansion of bureaucratic control is never temporary.
Particularly when the problem supposedly being solved is caused by the very bureaucrats who use it to justify expanding their own power.
Lithuania’s Covid Pass law does not ban specific activities. Instead, it prohibits people without a Pass from all services and economic activities involving human contact. Then, starting from zero rights, it grants us limited permissions such as buying food in small shops.
This is an inversion of universal rights. In a free society, you can do whatever you want, unless the law prohibits you. Under Lithuania’s new Covid Pass regime, it’s inverted: you can’t do anything, unless a bureaucrat allows you. The Covid Pass is an emergency law. There’s little accountability, oversight, or media scrutiny. With power unchecked, bureaucrats make arbitrary rules. And they reverse arbitrary rules. Again. And again. This is not science or health. This is rule by bureaucratic whim.
The rules are petty, abstruse. They’ve been changed dozens of times in the two months of the Pass. Bureaucrats themselves don’t agree with each other about how to apply the law. But the punishment if you don’t comply properly? Severe.
Virtually every business complies with the Pass. Enforcement is strict. There are no alternatives. Even those who might oppose the Pass acquiesce with a sheepish submissiveness. What else can you do? With no Pass, you can’t work, shop, or exist in society. Coercion works.
In the days after the Pass was imposed, people’s main complaint – as reported in the media, at least – was the inconvenience of showing the Pass twenty times a day. A solution went viral and was published in news sites: add the Pass on your home screen. Problem solved.
As the Covid Pass has become normalized, bureaucracy has grown and is becoming entrenched.
Two months after the Covid Pass regime was imposed, the bureaucrats decided to significantly increase the coercion. The law created in August allowed us non-Pass holders to buy food and medicine in small shops. Four days ago, bureaucrats imposed a new restriction on these shops: either limit capacity to only one customer per 30 m2, or ban people without a Pass.
Complying with the 30 m2 rule would cause a massive reduction in a store’s customer traffic. For a typical convenience store, the new restriction would mean only 2 or 3 shoppers at a time. For most pharmacies, it would mean only one customer allowed inside at a time. The bureaucrats’ new restriction forces small stores to decide: save their own business, or block us non-Pass holders from the only shopping still permitted to us. Some stores quickly made their decision:
The increase in coercion takes from my family the few shopping options we still had. But it does not confer morality. What was wrong before is still wrong now. So we’ll be buying all our supplies from outdoor markets this winter. No Pass required. For now, at least.
Re-vaccination began in Sept. for seniors and healthcare workers, expanding in Oct. to all adults. Officials plan 4th and 5th boosters afterwards and strongly hint that boosters will be mandatory for the Pass in Lithuania and the EU. The Pass must be renewed every 60 days.
Revoking some freedoms has opened the door to revoke more. As the Covid Pass regime has become entrenched, the banishment and segregation it mandates has unleashed an authoritarian fervor to also ban free speech and stifle dissent.
Principled opposition is stigmatized. Honest debate is dismissed as conspiracy theories. The entire media universe in our country now openly works with politicians to ban dissent. We’re losing the freedom to say what our rulers do not want to hear.
My wife and I refuse to be caricatured as crazed anti-vaxxers. We are not illiterate, innumerate, or anti-science. We do not believe in conspiracy theories. Vaccination against disease can benefit many people. It’s a personal medical decision for each individual in consultation with a doctor. What we deeply oppose is the coercion of the Covid Pass regime and the authoritarianism and segregation where it has inevitably led.
The Covid Pass regime has divided people into two classes. One class gets rights. The other class is banished. This is a two-tier society of state-sanctioned segregation. It is the inevitable result of the Covid Pass.
Hatred. Othering. Us vs. Them. Restriction by restriction, the new regime has shredded the bonds which hold us all together in one society. This is the inevitable result of the Covid Pass.
Blame for disease. Accusation of wartime betrayal. Death wishes. Opinion that was repugnant in 2019 has become mainstream in 2021. This is the inevitable result of the Covid Pass.
Opposition must be criminalized! Wartime traitors are funded by secret enemies! Agitators imperil the survival of the nation! — This is not a history textbook. This is the reality of life for my family in 2021. This is the inevitable result of the Covid Pass.
To see liberty’s loss is heart-wrenching for my wife and me. We cry for our land, twisted into a regime of control and segregation. We cry for our neighbors, as we watch fear close their eyes to the path they walk back to an authoritarianism we overcame only 30 years ago. We cry for our children, as the freedoms they have known in their short lives are ripped from them. And we cry for our unborn child, who we worry will never know a world where strangers interact freely without suspicion, fear, and government control. Our society in Lithuania has already been transformed into a regime of authoritarianism and segregation. But there’s nothing unique about our case. What has happened to us in our society is the inevitable reality facing every society which will impose the Covid Pass.
QR code to shop. Covid Pass to work. Bureaucrats’ approval to buy food, toys, clothes. Segregated libraries and banks. Ever increasing coercion. And if you don’t comply: banishment. This is the world which the Covid Pass inevitably creates. Is this the world you want?
We believe the vast majority of people everywhere would reject this world of control and coercion. But they don’t know it’s coming. They don’t know it’s the inevitable result of the Covid Pass. And they don’t know that they – we – all of us – must rise up now to stop it. Each country which imposes the Covid Pass is cited by other countries to justify their own regime. So the battle must be global as well. If the Covid Pass regime is allowed to grow somewhere, it will grow everywhere. And then it will be too entrenched to stop anywhere.
Despite the hardships we face, my wife and I have hope. Many people around the world are already fighting the Covid Pass in their own countries. And we believe that many, many more would join if they see the reality of where the Covid Pass inevitably leads. So this is my request to you: please help by sharing this message about the inevitable reality of the Covid Pass regime. We believe that if enough people see the authoritarianism and segregation in our society, they will rise to block it in their society. And then we can join together, across all societies, to stop this madness everywhere before it’s too late for all of us.