Lithuania Health Ministry may propose mandatory facemasks next week

  • 2020-07-24
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - The Lithuanian Health Ministry may propose next week to make facemasks mandatory again, but is yet to decide on specific settings where people would be required to cover their faces.

"As one of the most effective measures, we are considering mandatory wearing of facemasks, first of all, in transport, supermarkets and other places of mass gathering where it is difficult to maintain a safe distance," Deputy Health Minister Kristina Garuoliene told a news conference on Friday. 

Vytautas Beniusis, the head of the ministry's press office, told BNS that the ministry was still considering all possible options.

"Currently, the ministry is considering various options and analyzing the best practices of foreign countries," Beniusis said.

"Decisions on specific proposals will be made next week and one of the options under consideration is to reintroduce the mandatory wearing of facemasks in public transport as well as at (public transport) stops and, possibly, at events," he said. 

Meanwhile, the ministry "strongly recommends" wearing facemasks, especially at public gatherings, Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevic, who is standing in for the health ministry while he is on vacation, told the news conference. 

Narkevic said other measures, such as lowering attendance limits for mass events, might be proposed because of the deteriorating epidemiological situation.

"We still hope that this won't be necessary," he added. 

The Health Ministry said on Friday morning that 26 new coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Lithuania over the past 24 hours, the highest daily increase since early May. 

This brings the country's total count to 1,986 cases. 

Lithuania currently has 277 active cases and 1,616 recoveries, and 99 people are in isolation.  

Eighty people have died of COVID-19 in the country so far, and another 13 coronavirus-infected patients have died of other causes.