Speaking to reporters remotely after a meeting of the cabinet and crisis management council, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said: "We decided to extend the existing restrictions as they currently are until February 7," explaining that though there are some encouraging signs the Covid-19 infection rate is stabilizing, this does not go far enough and a reduction in infection rate must be clear before restrictions can be eased.
"Unfortunately, the situation in our hospitals can still be regarded as critical," Kariņš said, a sentiment underlined by Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts who pointed out that the thousandth fatality from Covid-19 had been recorded during the last 24 hour period.
"We must ensure, now, that the situation does not get any worse," Pavļuts said, inviting society as a whole to understand the seriousness of the situation and the fact that the number of people being treated in hospital is not likely to diminish appreciably in the short term, and to do everything possible to help the numbers reduce in the future.
The cabinet conceptually agreed on the extension of emergency measures Tuesday, but the decision will be formally made at its meeting on Thursday.
School pupils in years 1 to 4 will return to their studies next week, but only in a distance-learning format. Classes 5 to 12 are already schooling via distance learning.
The current curfew conditions on Friday and Saturday nights will also be extended until February 7.
What measures will be in place until February 7?
- From January 25, year 1-4 students will start distance learning
- Year 5-12 students will continue distance learning.
- With a few exceptions for medical students and special kindergartens, other practical classes are possible only remotely.
- As before, amateur sports training will be allowed only outdoors (up to 10 people without the use of changing rooms). Indoor training, swimming pools and gyms will remain closed.
- There will be no exhibition venues and other cultural venues, and no fairs will be allowed.
- Libraries will be able to distribute books for home use only.
- Open-air museums can continue to operate provided there is one-way movement of people and a distance of at least 2 meters between them. Nature trails will also be able to operate under such conditions.
- The whole beauty industry (including hairdressers) will not work.
- Sports equipment rental services may only be provided outdoors.
- There will be no photo shoots and no photo services other than for necessary official documents.
- As before, anyone who is allowed to work remotely from home should do so. It is the employer's responsibility to provide this. These conditions apply to both public administration and local government institutions and private companies. Drivers, shelf stackers, police officers, firefighters, security guards, radio and television announcers and technicians, doctors and some other professions can work in person.
Until February 7, only the following stores can open:
- pharmacies (including veterinary pharmacies);
- gas stations;
- sales outlets where the following groups of goods may be traded :
- groceries (including alcohol)
- hygiene products
- basic household goods
- mobile phone prepaid cards
- tobacco products, herbal smoking products, electronic smoking devices and their liquids
- animal feed and goods
- press publications
- public transport tickets
- mouth and nose masks and personal protective equipment
- agricultural products of domestic producers
- tights, socks
- scarves, shawls, hats, gloves
- Cleaning products (surface cleaning cloths, etc.)
- shovels (including snow shovels)
- electrical heating appliances
- Online sales with delivery remain unrestricted.