Some COVID-19 restrictions restored in Latvia

On Friday, July 10, the government held a remote meeting to decide on the restoration of certain COVID-19 related restrictions in Latvia, as a response to the recently growing number of new cases.

With the government's decision, as of Saturday, July 11, until September, the restrictions for catering venues that were previously in force but recently relaxed have been restored: 

  • a maximum of four guests who are not members of the same household may be present at an indoor table,
  • a maximum of eight guests who are not members of the same household may be present at an outdoor table.

Rules on the maximum number of persons at the same table must be displayed in public catering facilities (at the entrance and cash register as a minimum).

The government also decided to allow activity at catering facilities only until midnight.

Ministers agreed to form an inter-institutional coordination group that will work on more recommendations for COVID-19 restrictions. The Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) will take a formal decision on this in the near future.

Health Minister Ilze Viņķele (Development/For!) said that these interim restrictions would be sufficient until next Tuesday, when the next government meeting is scheduled and will undertake a more detailed examination.

Several ministers indicated that restrictions on entry from abroad should also be considered. The Minister of Agriculture, Kaspars Gerhards (National Alliance), said that restrictions on public catering alone would not be sufficient to keep the population safe. The Welfare Minister, Ramona Petraviča (KPV LV), said that note should be taken from which destination the virus enters Latvia.

In response, the Health Minister explained that the whole world has been living in a state of “one step forward, one backward” while waiting for a vaccine to be developed. She also said that stricter restrictions could be prepared for next week.

“If we have to come back to stricter restrictions, we will,” Viņķele said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevičs (New Unity) said that coordination between the Baltic States on restrictions and their control would be beneficial.

The cumulative rate of the number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000 inhabitants in Latvia has increased to 2.8, the Health Minister said at the meeting. Countries with a rate of less than 16 are considered to be relatively safe. 

This week, only six of the new COVID-19 cases in Latvia are confirmed as being imported from abroad. Imports in previous weeks were half of all cases, said Elīna Dimina, head of the Disease Prevention and Control Center (SPKC) Division for Disease Surveillance and Immuniation of Infectious Diseases.

Currently, epidemiologists are actively researching infection routes. Infection cases are also potentially linked to an "entertainment lifestyle" - namely, going to pubs, bars, and parties, the SPKC spokeswoman said.

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