In May, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia lifted restrictions on cross-border travel between the Baltic States, thus creating the so-called “Baltic bubble”. After COVID-19 incidence rate in Lithuania and Estonia grew, the bubble burst. Estonia and Lithuania have decided to raise the self-isolation incidence threshold to 25, but the Latvian government did not agree with it.
When asked why Latvia does not follow neighboring countries and does not increase the cumulative COVID-19 incidence rate for self-isolation (from the current 16 to 25 infections per 100 000 inhabitants), Rinkevics acknowledged that the government discussed this issue on several occasions and decided to follow the advice of epidemiologists, who have encouraged not to raise this threshold.
At the moment, it is essential for each country to focus on limiting the spread of COVID-19 so that rates are low, the Latvian foreign minister said, adding that Latvia is prepared to work on the renewal of the “Baltic bubble”, taking into account other parameters – not only the number of ill people per 100,000 inhabitants.
The “Baltic bubble” will be transformed and will depend on how the situation with COVID-19 will develop in the Baltic States and the European Union (EU) as a whole.
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister said that the incidence of COVID-19 in the Baltic States was initially similar and the “Baltic bubble” was noticed in the world.
“I think it was a good thing, because we find ways to coordinate, our activities in a pandemic situation, to exchange information. But now, unfortunately, the bubble has burst. Now you only have your own, Latvian bubble. I think we will return to the previous situation in the future,” Linkevičius said.
The Lithuanian foreign minister said that in the COVID-19 crisis, EU countries adopted decisions at national level and the restrictions were very different, but this should not be the case. Coordination between the three Baltic States was a model for all.
“And at this point, when the second wave is already beginning, things should be done differently. There should be less politics, more science,” Linkevičius added.