Speaking after a lengthy meeting of the Crisis Management Council on Monday Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said additional drastic measures were necessary as the situation had deteriorated even during the week since the last revisions were made to the epidemiological rules applying to society.
He repeated an appeal for people to volunteer for vaccination and said that while he accepted criticism for the government's failure to persuade more people to get vaccinated, the onus lies on all members of society to ask what they can do to encourage others to get vaccinated. Currently, only around half the Latvian population is vaccinated.
"Latvia is in the first place in the world for cumulative morbidity... There are many people, too many people, who are not vaccinated," Kariņš said, explaining that it was necessary to try what has sometimes been described as a firebreak strategy to stop Covid's spread, while Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts described it as a "stop sign" strategy to halt the spread of the virus.
He stressed that society should "Help our medics for the next four weeks" and that the new measures were intended to reduce interpersonal contact by at least 40%.
The restrictions during lockdown will apply to the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
Though the restrictions are agreed in principle among coalition partners they are still subject to revision at government meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday before coming into force on Thursday if approved.
Chief among the measures announced are:
- A curfew between the hours of 20:00 and 05:00, though people can travel to and from work if necessary outside these hours.
- Between the specified dates, all stores, except those specifically excluded such as convenience stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, pet stores, and others carrying essential goods, will be closed, and only essential services will be available.
- The current week of school holidays will be extended by another week. From November 1, grades 1-3 will return to school but grades 4-12 will be taught remotely from November 1 until November 15.
- Gatherings indoors and outdoors including entertainment, sports, and cultural events will not be allowed.
- Only people involved in production, construction and essential work will be able to work in person.
- After November 15, it is planned to return to the "green mode" rules which are currently in force and which apply different rules to vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
More details will be published as they become available. It is planned that aid mechanisms will be put in place for industries whose work is suspended during the period of restrictions.