Don't travel abroad unless "absolutely necessary" urges Foreign Ministry

Latvia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on March 15 repeated advice that people should not travel abroad unless "absolutely necessary", two days ahead of a resumption of international flights to third countries (outside the EU/EEA) scheduled to begin on March 17.

"Do not travel abroad unless it is absolutely necessary," the MFA urged, along with a reminder of the various epidemiological conditions that must be met by travelers.

Nevertheless, the MA noted that the tourist flights for sun-seekers are also likely to be revived, though it is difficult to see how a holiday in the sun could be viewed as "absolutely necessary" no mater how desirable it might be at the tail-end of a harsh Latvian winter.  

"In view of the Cabinet decision of 9 March permitting international passenger flights as of 17 March to and from third countries, including flights organised by tour operators for purposes of tourism and recreation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on all travellers to be aware of risks related to cross-border travel under circumstances of the pandemic, and would like to draw travellers’ attention to the following points," the MFA said.

"The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges everyone to refrain, as much as possible, from travelling abroad unless it is absolutely necessary."

"As for holiday trips organised by tour operators, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on travellers to study quite carefully the terms of the tourism service and the travel insurer and, especially on expenses that are not covered by the insurer and tour operator in the cases where the traveller is unable to return to Latvia as planned, for example, if and when they have been tested positive for COVID-19 or are identified as a contact person for someone else who has tested positive," the MFA added. 

Persons entering Latvia by direct flights that cross the EU’s external border must take another COVID-19 test immediately upon their arrival in Latvia. Even if the test result is negative, a 10-day self-isolation at their place of residence is required. If the test result is positive, or if the person has not been tested, they must isolate themselves in a designated hotel for 10 days with costs covered by travellers themselves.

The categories of persons who are permitted to enter Latvia from third countries remain unchanged. A detailed list of such persons is given in Paragraph 37 of Cabinet Regulation No 360. Likewise, the reasons for entering Latvia from the EU, the EEA, Switzerland and the UK remain unchanged. Entry to Latvia from those countries is allowed only for the purposes listed in subparagraph 5.49. of Cabinet Order No. 655 of 6 November 2020, Regarding the Declaration of the State of Emergency.

The Transport Ministry, on the other hand, has been talking up the economic advantages of reopening flights to third countries, since this was announced on March 9.

"The lifting of the ban on passenger transport to and from third countries will have a positive impact on the operation and competitiveness of Riga International Airport and airBaltic, as Latvia remains one of the last EU Member States to ban such transport and negatively affect the competitiveness of the aviation industry," it said March 9.

"In 2020, a total of 40,904 cases of Covid-19 cases were confirmed in Latvia, of which 892 cases were imported, of which, in turn, 250 cases were by air transport, which is 0.61% of all confirmed cases," the Transport Ministry said.

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