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Picturesque Latvian town goes quiet due to COVID-19 outbreak

Kuldīga, a town in Western Latvia, which is well-known for its unique architecture and pleasant small-town vibe, has gone quiet following a relatively large outbreak of COVID-19 recently, Latvian Radio reported October 9.

80% of all reservations have been canceled. October, which promised to be great for tourism and catering businesses in Kuldīga, will not live up to expectations, say tourism operators of Kuldīga.

The outbreak of COVID-19 which started in a single textile business but spread throughout town has been an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. Jana Bergmane, Kuldīgas Active Tourism center head, said that "it was one moment. As soon as it was announced that Kuldīga and Daugavpils would be subject to stricter limitations, up to 80% reservations for accommodation, sightseeing, tour buses were canceled."

People immediately responded to the news by excluding Kuldīga from potential destination list, which, according to cafe Kursas zeme owners Dzintra and Ingmārs Lādens, was wrong. Cafes and restaurants are particularly trying to implement precautions, they said.

"We had bookings, 20 people from Rīga had reserved the place, they cancelled the booking because one can't go to Kuldīga now, Kuldīga is a [COVID-19] spot," said Dzintra.

"Everything stops because of the fuss. Mass psychosis was created that there was some sort of danger and horror, but the café is the cleanest place in all, where everything is cleared after each visitor.

We put up protective barriers in spring so that people can be separated from each other," Ingmārs said.

Café owners conceded that the reduction in the number of employees will have to start sooner than it was thought earlier this year. Chefs also have to sit most of the day without work, but the salary has to be paid. All of this affects small entrepreneurs.

Tourism expert Artis Gustovskis said many will have to learn to adapt. He said that the winning businesses will be those who figure out how to offer more space to tourists at their accommodation site, as it is the narrowness or the possibility of contact that causes fear of infection.

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