On Wednesday, 15 July, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted several decisions in order to be able to collect information on both Latvian residents and foreigners entering Latvia more effectively, thus improving the ability of National Police to check compliance with self-isolation rules and of the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to trace the spread of the Covid-19 infection. The need for third-country nationals to travel to Latvia to obtain visas and residence permits has also been reduced.
Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said: “Although the incidence of Covid-19 is continuing to grow in the world, we have been able to limit its spread in Latvia and are continuously working to keep it low. Today's government decision has put a system in place that will allow services to make sure that arriving travellers who must comply with the 14-day self-isolation requirements, are in fact doing so. I would like to thank all of the services that collaborated to create this solution, in order to continue to protect society and the economy from the risk of a wider spread of Covid-19.”
On Wednesday, 15 July, at the emergency meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, amendments to the “Law on the Management of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection” were approved, reducing the need for third-country nationals to travel to Latvia to obtain or renew their residence permits. The amendments will enter into force once they are reviewed by the Saeima as a matter of urgency. In turn, from 16 July, changes in Cabinet Regulation No. 360 “Epidemiological Safety Measures for the Containment of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection” will enter into force, establishing the questionnaire procedure for arriving travellers and the restrictions on the issuance of visas for entry into Latvia from countries with a wide spread of the infection.
According to the amendments to the Cabinet Regulations, from 16 July, before entering Latvia, all passengers of international passenger carriers will have to submit a completed questionnaire to their carrier, indicating the countries that they have visited during the last 14 days, their contact information, and the address chosen for performing two weeks of self-isolation, as well as confirming their compliance with the national epidemiological safety measures.
Information on passengers who have been in countries widely affected by Covid-19 will be passed on to the National Police for executing self-isolation control, and information on other passengers will be passed on to the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, in order to allow them to promptly identify possible contact persons if necessary. Passenger data will be stored for 14 days for the purposes of epidemiological investigation and then deleted.
Initially, until an electronic incoming traveller registration system is set up, the questionnaires will be in paper form. The Cabinet of Ministers has instructed the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development to coordinate the development of this system. The creation of the system could take two to three weeks.
In order to reduce the import of the Covid-19 infection from third countries, the amendments to the Cabinet Regulations approved by the government provide that from 16 July no long-term category D visa applications will be accepted or considered from residents of countries with 16 or more new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days. Visa applications received by 16 July will be processed as per the usual procedure.
The amendments to the Law on the Management of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection adopted at the emergency meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on 15 July provide that the decisions on granting residence permits get extended until 31 December 2020, thus changing the current procedure of issuing residence permits within three months. Additionally, in order to make decisions on extending residence permits, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, when assessing whether the person has resided in Latvia for the required time, will consider the absence in the period from 12 March 2020 to 31 December 2020 as justified. Consequently, third-country nationals will not have to enter Latvia in order to fulfil the requirement of staying in Latvia for maintaining their temporary residence permit.
It will be possible to receive both temporary residence permits and visas at Latvian embassies and other representations abroad without coming to Latvia. It should be noted that these documents will only be issued when the prevalence of the infection in the country of receival has decreased below 16 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In the case of non-compliance with self-isolation, epidemiological safety measures, and other Latvian laws, temporary residence permits and long-stay visas may be revoked.
Minor changes have been made to the epidemiological safety measures concerning the use of swimming pools. As of 15 July, it is no longer required, during swimming training and competitions, to provide at least 8 square metres of water surface per participant. As of now, these activities are subject to the same requirements as other sports activities - up to 30 persons may be present in a group led by a certified trainer and an area of at least 4 square metres must be provided per person. The 8 square metres requirement remains valid, however, for individual visits to the pool.
Taking the fact that a significant part of Covid-19 cases is related to foreign trips into account, it remains critical to seriously consider the need to leave Latvia. Moreover, after arriving in Latvia from countries where the total number of new Covid-19 cases in the last 14 days is 16 or more, strict self-isolation must be observed.
All of the government decisions, current restrictions, and other information related to the spread of Covid-19 in Latvia, as well as frequently asked questions and answers are available on the www.covid19.gov.lv website or by calling 8345.
Press Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers
Telephone: +371 67082919