Saeima reaffirms state of emergency in Latvia

On Thursday October 14, following extensive discussions, the Saeima supported the government's order to announce an emergency by January 11 to limit the spread of Covid-19.

 54 members voted for, 13 against, while 18 abstained.

Opposition members in the debate expressed opinions against the decision or said they would abstain from the vote. There was criticism that the restrictions were introduced late and that the new rules discriminate against some of the society.

Opposition MP Jūlija Stepaņenko said that the right of employers to dismiss unvaccinated employees was a "vile step". Former Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča agreed: “You can't take care of people's health by depriving them of their livelihoods.” She said that MPs, by supporting the government's decision, would “support the segregation of people, the humiliation of people.” She pointed out that people would therefore lose faith not only in the government but also in the Saeima.

On the other hand, the head of the commission responsible, Juris Rancāns (New Conservative Party), expressed confusion about what colleagues had said. Rancāns invited everyone to think and take responsibility for the people dead in hospitals. “These deaths were avoidable,” the head of the commission said.

MP Krista Baumane (Development/For!) also expressed confusion about the opposition's calls for the lifting of restrictions, as well as raising doubts about the effectiveness of vaccines. “Do you really hate the people of Latvia so much that you want them to get sick with Covid-19 and die?” asked the MP.

She acknowledged in the debate that the government should have acted before, with the Prime Minister taking the lead. “His role in joint work on combating the virus is crucial for everyone to do their job and stand together behind the necessary, albeit unpopular, decisions,” Baumane said.

Last week, the government adopted new restrictions in the fight against Covid-19, which impose more limits on people without a valid Covid certificate. Medical experts have publicly criticized the new rules, saying they are nowhere near enough.

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