New COVID-19 rules will take effect from December 21

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The Latvian government said December 15 that it plans to introduce new rules later this week in a bid to restrict the spread of the coronavirus, but stopped short of saying exactly what those new rules will be as discussions are ongoing.

Following a lengthy cabinet meeting to discuss the recent upsurge in daily cases which has seen hospitals reach near-full capacity, the cabinet gave advance warning that further restrictions are on the way, but that restrictions on the right to free movement will not be among the new measures.

Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said that on Thursday, December 17, the government will decide on new restrictions, which will take effect on Monday, December 21. They will not affect freedom of movement, but will be based on the latest proposals from the Ministry of Health, and include the concept of a "quiet period" lasting at least three weeks, including plans to extend the Christmas holidays for younger students by one week, the prime minister said.

Minister of Health Ilze Viņķele did say that further trade restrictions are planned, though these will not affect the sale of food and hygiene products, and restrictions are also planned that will apply to various types of indoor activities, such as sports training, but there was little in the way of detail during an online press briefing.

While the aim will be to avoid the serious escalation of case numbers currently witnessed in Lithuania, no Lithuanian-style national lockdown is currently being prepared, the Health Minister said.

"We have a different situation from Lithuania and such extraordinary measures as movement bans are not applicable at the moment," said Viņķele.

Recommendations are also being prepared for people on how to spend Christmas, which is traditionally a family holiday, in as safe a manner as possible.

"I would like to remind you that we face a national challenge. COVID-19 continues to spread and the difficulties in the healthcare system are very serious. Only together can we overcome them. It is important for everyone to participate so that we can overcome this difficult period and get out of this crisis,” said Kariņš.

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