State of emergency could be extended until end of February in Latvia

The state of emergency and the current restrictions are planned to be extended until February 28, the coalition agreed on January 4, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said at a press briefing.

A concrete decision will be made at the government meeting on Thursday, January 6 but it is planned that the current restrictions will remain in force. The state of emergency was originally due to lapse January 11.

State aid for companies affected by the pandemic will be extended along with the restrictions.

"As a country, we must change our thinking about the disease completely. It is impossible to think that we will overcome it with restrictions. [..] The main weapon is not restrictions but the protection of people. We can individually protect ourselves and take individual responsibility: vaccinate, wear masks, and get tested," said Kariņš.

"We cannot expect that the government will close everything and magically overcome [Covid-19]", the Prime Minister added.

In connection with vaccination, the coalition supported the proposal of the Ministry of Health to set a 9-month validity period for Covid-19 vaccination certificates. 

At the press conference, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance and role of booster vaccination in reducing the prevalence of the Covid-19 omicron variant: "Vaccination is like recharging your phone. Over time, efficiency is lost. It's important to get a third dose and charge your immunity."

The government has also decided to move towards making the wearing of a medical mask or FFP2 respirator mandatory in "high-risk" situations, such as on public transport. A non-medical grade mask such as a fabric mask would no longer be sufficient in such situations.

"These masks are not yet a mandatory requirement, but we will move towards it. The first step is to ensure that they are widely available to everyone," said the Prime Minister.

The abandonment of fabric masks is one of the main elements in the government's strategy, Kariņš said. 

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