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Vinkele: If Covid-19 situation keeps deteriorating, new measures would restrict gatherings, public catering and education

BC, Riga , 29.10.2020.Print version
If the epidemiological situation in Latvia continues to deteriorate, the next measures taken by the government would involve even tighter restrictions on gatherings, public catering and education, Health Minister Ilze Vinkele told LETA.

"We are not in a different situation from the rest of European countries. The restrictions are basically focusing on everything that keeps people from getting together and assembling," the minister said, adding that if the situation with Covid-19 becomes worse, the first steps would include reducing the number of people allowed to gather for public and private events. 

New restrictions will "definitely be applied to public catering", Vinkele said. "If the numbers go up, one of the first solutions is to close bars and pubs," Vinkele said. 

In her words, in such a situation the government would also decide on more extensive distance learning for schoolchildren. 

As reported, the government on Tuesday adopted the strategy for curbing Covid-19 developed by the Health Ministry. The strategy describes four categories of Covid-19 risks. Latvia currently is in the third category, said Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity).

The strategy provides that a certain set of restrictions are introduced based on three factors that separately or in a combination could lead Latvian into the fourth or high-risk category.

One of the factors is the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients - if it reaches 80 percent of capacity of hospitals. Another factor is if the incidence level per 100,000 residents increases the average incidence in the EU by 50%. The last factor is mortality rate - if it exceeds the average mortality rate in the EU.

According to the plan, if Latvia fell into the fourth or high-risk category, gatherings both indoors and outdoors would be limited to 50 people. There would be no private or public events allowed with the exception of funerals. All culture events would be cancelled, except for issue of books in libraries.

All religious establishments would suspend their events, and services would be held remotely. Public catering places would be allowed to provide only take-away meals. Masks would be mandatory in all workplaces. All bars, entertainment establishments, including active leisure establishments, such as swimming pools and adventure trails would be closed.

"We hope that we will manage to stabilize the infection curve in two-three weeks, and also see a decline," Health Minister Ilze Vinkele said. However, if Latvia steps over the red or high-risk zone, the government would have to decide on the state of emergency.

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