Lithuanian PM rules out major changes to lockdown restrictions for now

  • 2021-01-18
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The recent improvement in the coronavirus situation in Lithuania is too fragile to allow any major changes to the coronavirus lockdown rules in the near future, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Monday. 

"The purpose of today's discussion is to look at where we are now and what (happens) after 31 January, because I don't think we can discuss any swift changes or easing when the situation is so fragile. We just don't want to undermine the good dynamics," Simonyte said at the Cabinet's meeting.  

"We need to look at what happens after February 1, because we'll have had a month and a half under lockdown," she said. "The key question is probably whether all restrictions must remain in place in full or whether some restrictions could be lifted under certain conditions." 

A team of experts advising the government on the pandemic told the Cabinet that if the situation improved further, priority should be given to allowing children to return to classrooms, but sufficient testing would need to be ensured to control the spread of the virus.

The experts said that the opening up of each new sector should be subject to an assessment of its risks, adding that any further easing of the restrictions would be risky because of the spread of new, more contagious viruses around the world.

At this point, the government could only allow people who live alone to form "a social bubble" with one other household and make it possible for children who have difficulty learning at home to learn remotely from school, Simonyte said.  

"We aren't suggesting any major, radical changes at the moment," she said. 

The prime minister asked experts and ministers to prepare proposals for an exit from the lockdown and a plan for resuming activities according to their riskiness. 

If the current downward trend continues at the same pace, Lithuania's daily count of new infections could fall to 200 cases in the second half of February, experts told the Cabinet. 

Possibilities for relaxing the lockdown will also depend on testing and vaccination capacities, they said.