PM Kariņš: reasons why Latvia is in lockdown will be found in time

Criticism on the too early or late introduction of lockdown, too harsh or too lenient restrictions, low numbers of risk group vaccination is often addressed at Latvian politicians. Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš told Latvian Television broadcast De facto October 24 that it was not yet time to analyze the errors that led Latvia back into lockdown.

The very low vaccination coverage in one of the risk groups – in the senior part of society – has contributed to the overload of the healthcare system. On the other hand, last week the government introduced tough restrictions on both the unvaccinated and vaccinated population, significantly affecting movement, work, and services. In explaining this decision, the Prime Minister placed emphasis on the responsibility of the entire society.

That position was criticized by crisis management specialist Kaspars Druvaskalns, who chaired the Crisis Management Council in early October: “It is not very wise to transfer responsibility to society, because it is not crisis management. Then the word “management” should be removed because nothing is being managed. Of course, there could be a situation, such as Sweden's initial decision, if it is politically deliberate, to allow the public to self-function, to provide with vaccines, and so to say that “you have the tools here and you do as you want,” informing of the choices. If it is a deliberate act, it shall be acceptable. It's a normal strategy that can be chosen. But then one must also count on the consequences.”

Druvaskalns, who had recently been critical of the government's hesitation in several interviews, was no longer invited to participate in the last meeting of the Crisis Management Council and has been removed from Covid-19 question debate.

Kariņš himself did not comment directly on this issue and called on the public to focus on what needs to be done now: “I actually think the time will come to crack open the whole thing, how it has all happened, but we as a country need to focus on going forward. At the moment, the main thing for us is to get vaccinated, to encourage vaccination, to reach our neighbors. Do it so we can get out of this crisis.[..]

“But when the lockdown ends we will continue to impose very heavy restrictions on those members of the public who haven't vaccinated. [..] In fact, they will have to keep sitting at home in one way or another until they are vaccinated so that the whole society can finally get rid of this problem."

Meanwhile, Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts, who was publicly criticized by the Prime Minister and privately reproached by other ministers for the slow vaccination pace, pointed out that the responsibility for the Covid-19 crisis lies with the wider circle of power.

"Throughout this period of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health has felt quite alone. Quite alone in terms of what needs to be done in vaccination, what has to be done in the fight against the pandemic, what has to be done in hospitals,[..]. As soon as something goes wrong, it means the Ministry of Health hasn't done anything. I want to ask: what is it that the other ministries have done? [..] The Ministry of Health is not alone in the fight. We'll be blamed, we know. We're already being blamed. We are doing what we can,” said Pavļuts.

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