Karins skeptical about Economics Ministry's proposal to increase Covid-19 incidence threshold for self-isolation

  • 2020-09-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) at today's government meeting was skeptical about the Economics Ministry's proposal to increase the Covid-19 incidence threshold for self-isolation requirement from the current 16 to 25 cases per 100,000 residents.

He said that this is not a political, but epidemiological matter. "If it were a political decision, we could ask, why not 50 or 100. But for epidemiologists this figure is directly related with curbing infection risks," the prime minister said.

Interior Minister Sandis Girgens (KPV LV) supported the Economic Ministry's proposal, noting that ministers need to oversee all sectors. He said that in most of European countries the threshold is around 18-19, therefore Latvia needs to change its threshold in order to be competitive.

Health Minister Ilze Vinkele (For Development) is strictly against the proposal of the Economics Ministry, saying that strategies in fight against Covid-19 are becoming more complicated. "Today we do not speak just about the tourism and retail sector, but all businesses in Latvia," she said, adding that ensuring that the country's domestic business and on-site learning process are carried out safely is of most importance.

Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Puce (For Development) agreed with the health minister, saying that the restrictions set by Latvia are similar to those of other countries. "There is no better instrument than restrictions on transborder mobility. We see that this has brought fruit also in Latvia," said Puce.

Economics Minister Janis Vitenbergs (KPV LV) explained that the proposal has been submitted because the Covid-19 restriction have negatively affected practically all sectors of national economy. Vitenbergs is confident that the toughest month due to Covid-19 crisis are behind as the summer months showed an increase of retail sales and a drop in the number of unemployed people. 

The minister said that the economy is starting to recover, except for the sectors where operations are still restricted, such as tourism and entertainment. Nevertheless, Latvia is again nearing the restrictions that were in force during the state of emergency, therefore solutions should be found how not to stop all economic activity again.

As reported, the current rules in Latvia stipulate that persons returning from a country with a 14-day coronavirus incidence rate of over 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants must self-isolate for two weeks. The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) releases an updated list of such countries each Friday.

As of September 4, based on the 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the 14-day self-isolation requirement now applies to people who have been in Luxembourg, Romania, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Malta, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, Slovakia, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Iceland, France, Poland, Croatia, Austria, Norway, Hungary as well as Denmark, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Monaco, San Marino and Andorra.

The 14-day self-isolation remains in force for returnees from Russia and Belarus, as well as all other non-EU countries not on the CDC list.

Self-isolation is not required for travelers returning from Australia, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.