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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 04.07.2020, 06:12

Latvian Health Ministry calls for abandoning use of masks in public transport and to relax restrictions

BC, Riga, 30.06.2020.Print version
The Health Ministry will urge the government not to make the use of mouth and nose masks in public transport a mandatory requirement, Latvian Health Minister Ilze Vinkele (For Development) said in an interview with TV3 this morning, cites LETA.

The ministry will also encourage that restrictions on outdoor gatherings to be relaxed more quickly than previously planned, allowing up to 3,000 people to gather for outdoor events as of August 1, the minister said. The previous plan was to permit 1,000 people to gather for outdoor events from August 1.

Asked if this is a hint that thus certain festivals and more widely attended concerts will take place from August 1, Vinkele answered in the affirmative, adding that event organizers will have to ensure that guests have the opportunity to disinfect their hands and that people do not crowd in certain areas, such as at the entrance, exit or bathroom facilities.

The minister explained that such proposals are being put forward by the Ministry of Health, taking into account the decrease in the incidence of Covid-19 observed in Latvia. "Looking at the proportion of people tested, only 0.8 percent of them are positive," the politician outlined the statistics.

However, she emphasized that the removal or relaxation of restrictions does not mean that they will not have to be put back in place in the future. Although the use of face covers in public transport will only be on a voluntary basis in the future, it cannot be ruled out that if infection rates increase in the future, the requirement to use them will have to be renewed, and perhaps not only in public transport, the minister explained.

Commenting on a possible second Covid-19 wave in the autumn, Vinkele admitted that the Health Ministry is preparing for several scenarios, which depend on both the number of infections and the severity of the virus. "What we are focusing on is how to organize patient flows and the return of pupils to schools. Recommendations for entrepreneurs are also being worked on. One important principle is to keep infection flows as low as possible," the minister explained.

As reported, the government will today consider proposals made by the Health Ministry in regards to Covid-19 related restrictions. On Monday, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) did not specify whether and which easing of restrictions could be reviewed.

Meanwhile, caterers might be allowed to reduce the minimum floor space they are required to provide per each client because of Covid-19, Economics Minister Janis Vitenburgs (KPV LV) said on Monday. Under the present Covid-19 rules, caterers are required to provide at least four square meters per person in indoor establishments.

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