Many citizens return to Latvia during COVID-19 crisis

During the COVID-19 crisis, residents are returning to Latvia after many years of absence. In some regions of Latvia, data shows that there were even more remigrants in this half-year than a year ago, Latvian Radio reported September 14.

Many families have returned so that children can go to Latvian educational institutions, as well as for epidemiological security. Remigration coordinators say, though, that the proceedings have been heavily influenced by travel restrictions and that people have not been able to use repatriation flights.

Kitija Pilskunga has spent six years in the UK and has just remigrated to Latvia in August. The decision was taken because Kitija wanted her daughter to get education in Latvia. The COVID-19 crisis has dragged the return process for several months.

“There was stress, because I was afraid the borders could close again, and whether I could send things with a courier. The idea was to come back early in the summer, but the borders were closed and it never worked out. Then I bought the ticket for August,” said Pilskunga.

Remigration data from Vidzeme Planning Region show that 66 families have returned to Vidzeme this year. The region's remigration coordinator, Ija Groza, said that  more people have returned this year than in this period last year, although many families had planned this return a couple of years ago.

“People say that here is a safer environment and safer life,” Groza said.

“They appreciate the health situation in Latvia. However, there are also some people who had planned to return this year and when the emergency and quarantines began, they said they would not return again and consider five times whether to return to Latvia, and what would be with the country's economy,”  said Groza.

Latgale Planning Region Remigration Coordinator Astrīda Leščinska points out that a total of 64 families returned last year, while this year 83 have already. Most of the remigrants have been absent for at least seven years. Many in the region have also indicated that the decision to return to Latvia has been influenced by safety concerns. There are also families in the region who are still waiting in their home countries to see what job opportunities will be.

“Those remigrants who contact the coordinator are predominantly 30 to 40 years old, able to work and with children who now go to our schools or pre-schools. These are 80% of our clients,” said Leščinska.

Data on the number of people and families who have returned to Latvia show that this year by June a total of 488 people had returned to Latvia and a total of 656 last year.

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