Health Ministry proposes banning non-essential travel, increasing penalties for flouting Covid-19 rules

  • 2021-02-02
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The Health Ministry is proposing to ban non-essential travel and increase penalties for breaching epidemiological safety requirements. 

The government and the Crisis Management Council in a joint meeting on Tuesday are haring the Health Ministry's report on the assessment of Covid-19 risks and further safety and precautionary measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. 

The Health Ministry says in the report that the existing precautionary and safety measures must remain in place until Latvia's cumulative 14-day Covid-19 incidence drops to 200 cases per 100,000 population. The situation has to be assessed once in three weeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the precautionary and safety measures and decide on their possible revision. 

While deciding on a relaxation of the precautionary and safety measures, the ministry recommends focusing on schoolchildren's access to education. 

To prevent new Covid-19 cases from being imported from abroad, it is necessary to ban all non-essential travel and oblige travelers to declare their destinations. The Health Ministry also proposes revising and reducing the categories of people exempt from Covid-19 tests and self-isolation on arriving in Latvia. 

The ministry also says that the requirement for travelers to fill out of the Covidpass questionnaire and self-isolate upon arriving from foreign countries should be controlled more strictly. 

The Health Ministry recommends toughening penalties for noncompliance with the epidemiological safety requirements, paying special attention to violations of self-isolation and quarantine rules, and if necessary, applying forced isolation of noncompliant persons.

Controls of precautionary and safety measures should also be stepped up in public spaces and service-provision points. At the same time, the ministry indicates that if travel restrictions and epidemiological supervision are increased, the rate of infections drops by at least 10 percent and the number of patients in hospitals does not grow, some of the existing Covid-19 restrictions might be eased. 

If the situation stabilizes, schoolkids in grades 1 and 2 could resume contact learning and individual consultations could be allowed for children at risk of social exclusion. If the epidemiological situation does not worsen, contact learning could be expanded, taking into consideration education priorities and possibilities to ensure precautionary measures. 

Covid-19 restrictions could also be revised in the retail sector, introducing a concept of safe trade. Retailers would be allowed to sell all their goods, but only a limited number of shoppers would be allowed to enter the stores at a time, and the retailers would be obliged to control compliance with the safety requirements. 

The Health Ministry's other proposals include restrictions on advertising in stores, as well as control and penalizing mechanisms aimed at ensuring compliance with epidemiological safety rules in stores.