Additional repatriation flights possible while emergency extension likely in Latvia

Next week the government will most likely extend the state of emergency, leading to more people who will need assistance in returning to Latvia and possibly additional repatriation flight as part of the continuing assistance being provided to residents abroad, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevičs (New Unity) on April 3.

“We're all starting to increasingly appreciate everything we were used to - to free travel, to free cargo movement, and as soon as we have these types of complications we understand what we could lose in the case that this European project would fall apart,” said Rinkēvičs.

The current state of emergency was set to extend to April 14, but now it looks as if it could be extended for an additional month. The final decision will be based on recommendations from epidemiologists and healthcare specialists.

“The coordination over the past week or two is a lot better than it was a month or three weeks ago. We're also regularly working in various ministerial formats searching for solutions, and I think we'll also come out of this crisis with a new set of tools to be more coordinated in fighting a pandemic in the future,” said the Minister.

Although repatriation flights have stopped for the moment, the Foreign Affairs Ministry continues to work with the over 200 residents who have applied to the consular register for assistance in returning home. An emergency situation extension will likely add to this number, possibly requiring additional repatriation flights for those who have been living abroad, however this would require an evaluation of the capacity of Latvia's healthcare system.

“I urge people to first think about whether this is right moment to travel, risk, and we're of course ready to help with remigration, we're ready to support, but then we have to really look at both health precaution opportunities and travel opportunities, and practical opportunities to leave those countries with strict restrictions,” said Rinkevičs.

If you require consular assistance from Latvia, there is a 24-hour helpline: +371 26337711, as well as an email address: [email protected] More information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as the Transport Ministry's website.

Rinkēvičš also participated in a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on April 2, where there was consensus in terms of the discussion about the organization's involvement in fighting the crisis by helping with logistics aid and fighting disinformation. German armed forces airplanes are already helping transport patients from heavily affected countries. The ministers also discussed the need for NATO countries to create a self-sufficient industry that produces masks and respirators, so as not to have to rely on 3rd countries for emergency supplies.

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