Two anti-COVID restriction protests coming on Saturday in Rīga

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The Riga City Council has received two applications for meetings on Saturday, December 12, during which people will protest against the restrictions imposed by the state authorities regarding COVID-19, Latvian Radio reported December 9.

The two organizers have promised that no more than 25 members will participate in the meetings in accordance with the rules, and will respect all security measures, including the use of masks.

At the moment, however, it is expected that the meetings may not respect this limit. Police have warned that they will not turn a blind eye to infringements.

The fact that hospitals are running short of beds for COVID-19 patients and healthcare is in an emergency situation does not mean the number of COVID-19 non-believers is reducing. And that is exactly the audience that will be gathered at a meeting on Saturday, December 12, on 11. Novembra krastmala near the River Daugava.

Judging from the numerous entries on social networks, one of the organizers of the meeting is Jānis Pļaviņš, who is known to sell normal water with supposedly extraordinary capabilities as his daily business under the title "Memory Water". He did not respond to the invitation to speak to Latvian Radio.

The meeting will protest against masks, banning alcohol sales on weekends and the planned vaccinations against COVID-19. The meeting was announced by ArvĪds Ulme, president of the Environmental Protection Club (VAK).

“About the possibility to work, to breathe, to survive. (…) What do you think is going on here; and journalists where are you? You only have one fact, just one opinion – what the Minister, the Coalition says (..). With fear you can press a nation on their knees for a while, that's what you're doing very successfully. But, you know, when the chain breaks, look at what will happen,” Ulme said.

The activities of Ulme are categorically denied by the other management of VAK. “Because Arvīds Ulme, who is president of our club, has declared it alone. (..) In fact, we are all against this,” VAK Vice President Lelde Stumbre said.

Ulme has guaranteed that 25 people are allowed to participate in the meeting, and everyone will be wearing masks.

The same commitment has also been made by the Stabilitātei - jā! (“Stability– Yes!”) society, which organizes its meeting in the second half of the day with a view to drawing public attention to insufficient support for entrepreneurs and workers during the state of emergency. Lursoft's data shows that among leaders of this group are also Aleksejs Rosļikovs and others who have in the past been excluded from the party Harmony.

Riga Mayor Mārtiņš Staķis (“Development”/“ Progressive”) said that the City Council is very carefully following the activities planned on Saturday.

“I believe this, of course, is not the best time to hold pickets, but at the same time I very much respect the democratic traditions of Latvia. The Riga municipal police, in cooperation with the State Police, are developing scenarios to implement if the picket organizer on paper has confirmed that it [safety rules] will all be observed, but does not actually plan to do so,” said Staķis.

Riga Municipal Police Chief Juris Lūkass warned that the time of leniency was over.

“The local government police are ready for any event development scenario. But given the really tense epidemiological situation of the moment, the period of tolerance is now over.

The police will apply all the legal means of coercion at its disposal to persons who deliberately fail to comply with the restrictive rules,” Lūkass said.

The true number of people at the meetings is difficult to predict, but thousands have shared the posters and calls on social networks.The State Police has also expressed its readiness to ensure order.

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