200 cars gather at Latvia's Rumbula Airfield in violation of distancing restrictions

Take note – story published 4 years ago

On Saturday evening, April 18, a few hundred cars gathered at Rumbula Airfield in violation of social distancing restrictive measures, according to Rīga Municipal Police on April 21. 

Officers noticed the hundreds of cars while on patrol and managed to fine several of the rule-breakers. What they saw and captured on video shows a clear violation of the emergency measures imposed to limit the spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus. When the police got out to check whether people were really inside their vehicles, several people began to get into their cars when they saw the police approaching.

It wasn't possible to determine which people were the ones breaking the rules in the dark from a distance, but two groups kept violating the restrictions even after police had approached. One company of three and one company of four were fined for not observing social distancing, including one additional fine of 140 euros for consuming alcohol in public. One person was fined 250 euros for showing a blatant disregard for the restrictions.

The former runway at Rumbula is popular with car enthusiasts as a place to meet and hang out. In ordinary times it hosts a weekly car mart and the surrounding area is thick with car dealerships and repair workshops. 

Police urge everyone to take the distancing restrictions seriously to help limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Latvia. Although the measures include restrictions on public gatherings, the drivers weren't technically breaking any rules as long as they didn't get out of their cars. The police will pay special attention to the Rumbula area during the coming weekends as well.

As previously reported, the Latvian government adopted stricter regulations on March 29 to limit gatherings of people in private and public events, which it said were "in line with the epidemiological situation." The new restrictions on physical proximity apply to public indoor and outdoor activities and establish the rule that no more than two people may meet and that they must maintain a distance from each other of at least two meters.  

Any public events, as well as meetings, marches and pickets are prohibited. Indoor sports and religious activities are also prohibited. All encounters in public spaces - indoor, outdoor and communal areas - must comply with the two-meter distancing rule as well.

The only exceptions to the two-person, two-meter rule are persons living in the same household or their parents and their minor children if they do not live in the same household. More than two persons may also meet in one place if it is an essential part of their workplace duties.

Supermarkets and catering facilities will be able to accommodate a number of persons, to be determined by order of the Minister for the Economy, providing the two-meter distance and other epidemiological security measures are observed.

At the request of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the National Police will be able to request information from electronic communications merchants on specific individuals who may have the status of infected or contact persons to conduct epidemiological investigations and verify the accuracy of the information provided by the person - in other words, quarantine-breakers will in theory be easier to trace.

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