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Three-month state of emergency will start Monday, October 11 in Latvia

A national state of emergency will be declared for three months from Monday, October 11, bringing with it the entry into force of several restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19, the Cabinet of Ministers decided on Friday.

Following several hours of sometimes tetchy debate between ministers, all of whom were masked, the government agreed the measures which will come into effect Monday.

The declaration of a state of emergency allows faster decision-making and allocation of resources while it is in force. It will be the third time the measure has been used since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and comes as Latvia is currently experiencing its highest level of morbidity with specialist hospital beds approaching full capacity.

Measures taken will include:

  • Only those who cannot work remotely should work in person.
  • Across the whole public sector (including state and municipal institutions) there will be an obligation to vaccinate against Covid-19 or face suspension.
  • Covid-19 certification will be mandatory in the private sector for specified critical professions.
  • From November 15, anyone subject to the vaccination requirement must have a Covid-19 vaccination or disease certificate, (meaning they need to start a two-dose course of vaccination within the next ten days)
  • In a return to the sort of measures taken during previous states of emergency, smaller stores, such as clothing stores, will not open in malls and shopping centers on weekends.
  • Indoor events can take place only with a valid Covid-19 recovery or vaccination certificate and everyone attending must wear facemasks. Certificates must be checked.
  • From October 18 there will be no subsidies provided for discounted fares on regional transport routes for people without a Covid-19 certificate. In all probability this means discounted fares will no longer be available to people not holding a certificate. This will not apply to Rīga Transport routes, at least until a new electronic ticketing system is introduced.
  • Many public services will not be available to people without a Covid-19 certificate. Without a vaccination or recovery certificate only basic necessities, services, and public transport will be available.
  • All students and teachers in educational institutions must wear masks from the age of six.
  • Staff relying on a Covid test certificate instead of a vaccination certificate to prove their status must in future pay for the tests themselves.
  • People without a Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate will be able to buy a takeaway meal at restaurants. But they will not be able to have a meal on site, not even outside on a terrace.
  • The maximum number of attendees at an event in "green mode" (all attendees have certificates which are checked and epidemiological conditions are met) is 1,000 people, divided into sectors of 300 people. This can include sporting events, cultural events etc.
  • Most stores will be able to operate only in "green mode", i.e. they can be visited only by those with Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificates.

  • During the state of emergency, public catering and entertainment services, as well as places of religious activity will only be able to operate between the hours of 06:00 and 21:00. However, theaters and concerts will be able to stay open until the end of a performance, but no later than 23:00.
  • Economic services related to entertainment and indoor attractions will not be able to open at all. This includes water parks, entertainment and amusement centers and trampoline parks.
  • "Red mode" stores, which will also serve people without a Covid-19 certificate, can work in places where there are at least 25 square meters per visitor, but will be limited to grocery stores, pharmacies, opticians, telecommunications services, bookstores and press outlets, petrol stations, hygiene goods stores, and animal feed stores.

  • Extracurricular activities with children under the age of 12 can operate in "red mode" outdoors for up to 20 people.

  • Extracurricular activities with children aged 12 and up can operate indoors and outdoors in "green mode" with up to 20 people.  This applies to sports training, choir, dance groups etc.

However, some of the rules still remain to be clarified. For example, when asked if Saeima deputies were subject to the requirement to be vaccinated, as they are public servants, officials said this question remained to be worked out.

Further information is likely to be published at the official government website over coming hours and days.

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