Cabinet ponders 'safe', 'semi safe' and 'unsafe' categories for provision of services

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The Latvian cabinet agreed in principle September 21 on proposals for safer provision of services in the context of rapidly increasing Covid-19 case numbers.

"Recent weeks have seen a sharp increase in the number of newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19, by about 30% per week. The number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients is also increasing, forcing hospitals to redeploy internal resources to provide treatment to more patients. Anticipating a further increase in the number of patients in hospitals, it may be necessary to limit the planned treatment of patients in the near future. In this case, the availability of treatment for patients with chronic diseases and inpatient treatment will have to be gradually reduced," said a statement from the cabinet office.

It is expected that by the end of September, the number of in-patients with Covid-19 could reach 800, which would mean a return to a state of medical emergency and a significant reduction in planned care. If the current increase in morbidity does not decrease, hospital overcrowding can be expected at the end of October.

Consequently the Ministry of Health is suggesting that economic and social activities - the provision of services, the organization of events and other indoor activities - are provided in a “semi-safe” environment to people who have a negative Covid-19 test or a certificate of vaccination or recovery, while people without verification of certificates in an "unsafe" environment, would be provided only with essential services.

Gatherings at private events will need to be reduced again and controls on security measures in public transport strengthened.

It is planned that shopping centers and retail outlets with an area of ​​more than 1,500 m 2  will operate in a “semi-safe” environment. Convenience stores and pharmacies could continue to operate in an "unsafe" environment without having to verify certificates. 

If these measures are not sufficient to reduce the prevalence of Covid-19, the Ministry will push for all indoor services, except for basic necessities and on-site work, only in a "safe" environment. On the other hand, the reduction or abolition of safety measures could be introduced when vaccination coverage reaches 90% coverage in risk groups (seniors, people with chronic diseases) and 70-75% coverage in the general population. Latvia is currently some way away from meeting such targets with 43% of the population having completed a course of vaccination.

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