Lithuania's lockdown easing: wearing face masks no longer mandatory in open spaces

  • 2020-05-13
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - The Lithuanian government on Wednesday further eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions: it will no longer be mandatory to wear face masks in open public spaces from Thursday, bars, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers indoors from next Monday, and students will start returning to classrooms in a week and a half.

Masks in open public spaces remain a recommendation, but not a requirement, except for places where people tend to crowd, such as open-air markets, public transport stops, events and excursions.

Wearing masks remains mandatory in closed spaces, except when eating and drinking in bars, cafes or restaurants, and during sports activities. 

People will be allowed to visit parks or other open public spaces in groups of up to five as long as they observe social distancing rules. Currently, groups of up to two people are allowed. The restriction does not apply to members of the same family.

These changes will take effect on Thursday. 

The Cabinet also allowed people legally residing in the Baltic countries and Poland to move freely in Lithuania. Previously, this only applied to the countries' citizens. 

It also allowed foreign journalists to arrive in Lithuania after receiving permission from the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.   

The movement-related changes will come into force on Friday. 

From Monday, food-serving businesses will be able to open their indoor seating areas. Currently, they are allowed to serve customers outdoors and provide take-away food services. 

Restaurants, cafes and bars as well as nightclubs and other entertainment venues are allowed to be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restriction does not apply to outdoor and food delivery services. Casinos and slot machine parlors are also permitted to operate during these hours.

The government also allowed schools to reopen. Primary school students will be able to return to classrooms from May 25, and others from June 1. 

Professional sports events without spectators will be permitted from May 30. 

Starting from May 30, both outdoor and indoor events with up to 30 attendees will be allowed, subject to the social distancing requirements. The same will apply to indoor and outdoor private gatherings. 

In an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 16 and was last extended until May 31.

Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said on Wednesday that the lockdown would likely be extended beyond May 31 and remain in place "for a long time".