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Various new Covid-19 restrictions come into force in Latvia

BC, Riga, 03.12.2020.Print version
Various additional Covid-19 restrictions come into force in Latvia from today, December 3rd, informs LETA.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to extend the current state of emergency period until January 11, while at the same time adding various new restrictions.

Therefore, from today, everyone throughout Latvia will have to follow the "2 + 2" principle in their daily activities, namely, the distance of two meters must be observed and meetings must be limited to two people.

From today, kindergarten workers will have to wear face masks at all times.

In shops and service points, one visitor will have to be provided with an area of 15 square meters. In turn, information about the number of people allowed inside must be clearly visible at the entrance. Visitors will be allowed to enter smaller premises one by one.

On-site indoor sports trainings may only take place for Latvian adult national team members, Olympic team members and Paralympic team athletes, as well as adult professional athletes of team sports of international and top league teams.

All hospitals temporarily will restrict scheduled inpatient and day-patient services from today. At the same time, emergency medical services will be available. Out-patient health care services will not be restricted. This will help hospitals to adapt to a steeper rise of Covid-19 patients, at the same time, being able to provide emergency medical services.

Many health care services will not be cancelled, such as emergency medical services, including examinations and consultations, out-patient health care services, including consultations of specialists, oncological and life-saving surgeries. After today, hospitals will have to provide also the following services for day-patients: services to ensure continuity of treatment: chemotherapy, biological medicines, organ replacement therapy, radiotherapy, day-patient services in hematology, substitution therapy for methadone and buprenorphine, patient health care that should be continued or completed in emergency treatment, invasive cardiology, invasive radiology.

The following services will be mandatory in the hospitals: emergency medical treatment, oncological, life-saving, as well as surgeries which may result in disability, health care services related to treatment of such groups of diseases as oncology, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, psychiatry, contagious skin diseases and sexually transmitted diseases, traumatology, acute and sub-acute rehabilitation services for persons for whom the postponement of such services may lead to a risk of disabling or loss of workability.

The government also decided that only 1st-4th grade students would still be able to continue their studies in person, but from tomorrow both pupils and teachers in schools will have to wear face masks both during lessons and outside the teaching process. Schools will still have to provide three square meters per pupil. From today, those working in kindergartens will have to wear face masks at all times.

The process of higher education, vocational education and adult vocational education, as well as non-formal education, will only be possible remotely. On the other hand, practical skills that cannot be acquired remotely may be acquired in person only individually - one teacher with one student.

The practical parts of interest education will be able to take place in person only individually.

To curb Covid-19, the government decided to impose an obligation to wear face masks indoors except at home, so they will also have to be worn by job collectives as well. According to the Minister of Health Ilze Vinkele (For Development), it is clear that a face mask does not have to be worn at work by an employee who is alone at the office, but only while he or she is there alone. Office canteens will only be allowed to serve food only for takeaway.

During the state of emergency period, alcohol and cigarette sales will be prohibited at shops on the weekend.

From December 5, a requirement will come into force that only pharmacies, including veterinary pharmacies, and shops will be allowed to operate on weekends and holidays, where only basic necessities, which mean foodstuffs, hygiene goods and fuel, may be sold.

Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) explained that the aim of these new measures was to restrict the sale of goods which are not essential. "The basic idea is that Saturdays and Sundays are not shopping days, and they are not days when we can afford to go to the store or meet friends," said Karins.

The government also decided that from December 3, in all shops and where customers are served, one visitor will have to be provide an area of 15 square meters. Information on the number of people allowed inside must be clearly visible at the entrance. In small space areas, visitors will only be allowed to go inside one by one.

Businesses, including shops, will have to ensure that people who do not wear a face mask or are doing so incorrectly are not allowed on the premises and cannot provide services to those who do not comply with epidemiological safety requirements.

From now on, everyone will have to wear a face mask on public transport and outside the home in spaces with more than one person. Face masks may not be worn by children under the age of seven and people who cannot use them due to health reasons.

It was previously stipulated that face masks may not be worn by children under the age of 13, but this age has now been lowered. Children between the ages of seven and 13 will have to start using mouth and nose coverings on public transport from December 7.

Restrictions on gatherings have also been set, namely, from December 3, everyone in Latvia will have to follow the "2 + 2" principle in their daily routine - so the distance of two meters must be observed and meetings must be limited to two people.

Karins emphasized that private events and gatherings are prohibited, except for events within one household.

The government decision stipulates that if it is necessary to provide personal care or if a person lives in a household alone, visits are allowed, but not more than between two households.

Until January 11, all cultural venues, exhibitions, as well as fairs, including Christmas markets, will be closed. Libraries will be able to hand out books only for pick-up.

At funerals and baptisms are to be held with no more than ten people, and no more than from two households, and these must be held outdoors using mouth and nose coverings. In the meantime, no more than 20 percent of the maximum number of people may be present at religious sites at any one time.

During the state emergency, organized meetings, pickets and marches will be allowed, but no more than 25 people will be able to gather, observing the epidemiological safety requirements - a physical distance of two meters and observing the requirements set by the organizer.

In order to protect people in public transport, from December 7 the number of passengers cannot exceed 50% of the vehicle capacity. If it is not possible to control the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, the vehicle must be provided with instructions on the use of seats, ensuring physical separation.

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