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Cabinet of Ministers: the involvement of every member of society is of great importance in limiting the spread of COVID-19

12.08.2020

On Tuesday, 11 August, the Cabinet of Ministers, based on the recommendations of epidemiologists, decided to slightly reduce certain Covid-19 restrictions, taking into account that the increase in the number of cases in Latvia is significantly smaller than in other European Union member states. However, close monitoring of morbidity rates will be continued so that a decision to return to stricter restrictions could be made promptly if the situation were to worsen.

Amendments to Cabinet Regulation No. 360, “Epidemiological Safety Measures for the Containment of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection”, were approved by the Government during its session on 11 August, and will enter into force on 17 August. The changes will affect gathering restrictions for organised events, business services, and public catering.

From 17 August, up to 1000 persons will be allowed to gather indoors, thus replacing the current restriction of 500 persons. The limit on the number of visitors will no longer depend on the size of the premises.

Event organisers and service providers will be required to develop a Covid-19 containment plan. This applies to both indoor and outdoor events. For outdoor events, the current limit of 3000 persons will remain in force.

The amendments approved by the Cabinet of Ministers also reduce the minimum area that must be provided for each visitor of an event or recipient of a service, including in public catering locations. From 17 August, the current 4 metres squared restriction will change to 3 metres squared. The condition that the number of people at an event venue may not exceed 50% of the room capacity will remain in force.

The exception for room capacity and distancing restrictions will apply to cultural events where persons sit in fixed, personalised seats, for example, in concerts, at a theatre, cinema, etc. A distance of one metre will have to be provided between the seats. During events with a large number of visitors, it must be ensured that groups of up to 300 persons do not overlap, for example, by using multiple entrances and exits and by organising seating in sectors.

From 17 August, cultural, sports, and religious activities, as well as public catering locations, will be allowed to take place/work for longer hours: until 2.00 a.m. The beginning of working hours remains unchanged: 6.30 a.m. In turn, the restriction on opening hours of entertainment venues such as nightclubs and discos will stay unchanged, being limited to 24.00 also after 17 August, given the higher risk of spreading Covid-19 there.

From 17 August, no more than eight persons will be allowed at one indoor table in public catering establishments, while the number of persons at one outdoor table will no longer be limited. However, the condition of a 2-metre distance between the tables, both indoors and outdoors, remains in force.

The government has further supplemented the regulations, stipulating that educational institutions will be allowed to hire a registered medical practitioner for identifying any infection cases and for promptly preventing further spread of the infection in the educational institution.

In order to simplify the understanding of international passenger transport procedure and its suspension between Latvia and countries with a high Covid-19 prevalence, as well as the requirements of visitors to observe a 14-day self-isolation period, existing regulations have been specified by stipulating that the list of countries published on the website of the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control enters into force on the day after its publication. As it is published on Fridays, the changes take effect from Saturdays.

It should be taken into account that the risk of infection is significantly higher abroad than in Latvia. In Europe, the incidence of Covid-19 has increased by about 19% in recent weeks; in Latvia at least one in three cases of the disease is related to being abroad. Therefore, everyone must carefully assess the need for travelling abroad, taking into account multiple factors such as the prevalence of Covid-19 infection in the destination country, the risk of infection, and the fact that a two-week self-isolation might be required upon returning to Latvia.