RIGA - Strict Covid-19 lockdown rules have come into force in Latvia from today until November 15.
During this time period, all stores, except for those selling essential goods, will be shut, and only the most essential services will be available.
The rules effective during the lockdown are intended to restrict in-person contacts of people from different households as much as possible in order to ease pressure on the healthcare system, prevent the necessity to limit critical healthcare services and prioritize patients.
To restrict illegal gatherings at private events, people are banned from leaving home from 20:00 till 5:00, except for those who need to travel to and from work.
Education in classrooms is being temporarily suspended as well. In-person learning will be resumed gradually, from November 1, allowing kids in grades 1 to 3 to return to school.
All extracurricular activities will also be halted and kindergartens will only accept kids whose parents are doing critical on-site jobs. Students of vocational and higher education institutions will switch to distance learning.
All public events, including forms of peaceful assembly like meetings, marches and pickets, will be banned according to a draft decree the government is expected at its meeting Wednesday.
Private events and gatherings, except for events that include members of the same household, will be prohibited as well. Exemptions can be made for funerals and urgent christenings.
According to the lockdown rules, only members of the same household or two persons from different households will be allowed to travel in a car. The restriction will not apply to critical employees like medics, rescuers and police officers, among others.
The Health Ministry indicated that a state of emergency was declared in Latvia on October 11 to contain the rapid spread of Covid-19 and prevent the health system from becoming overwhelmed. The objective was to reduce social contacts by 30 to 40 percent and thus curb the transmissions of the virus. However, mobility data, including on the use of public transport, shows that during the first week of the emergency, contacts only decreased by 5 to 10 percent, which is not enough to slow the spread of the virus.
After November 15, the government plans to lift the ban on in-person retail trade, services, education, private and public events, but primarily for people who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 and can present a Covid-19 certificate.