On Tuesday, 2 February, the Cabinet of Ministers, after carefully assessing the epidemiological situation, conceptually agreed on a unified approach to the management of Covid-19 in Latvia after 8 February. Discussions focused on four topics - the reduction of morbidity, as well as more significant safety measures in the field of trade, international travel, and the educational process. It is planned to adopt more detailed decisions in the 4 February Cabinet meeting. It is planned to extend the emergency situation until 6 April in order to achieve a significant reduction in morbidity.
Given the gravity of the situation, the emergency situation is scheduled to be extended until 6 April. A too rapid reduction of safety measures is risky, as the health sector is still in a state of emergency. The provision of scheduled services is very limited. In turn, almost all beds in hospitals adapted for the care of Covid-19 patients have been filled. Unfortunately, each new bed for Covid-19 patients reduces the scope for planned healthcare.
Improved educational process
Access to full-time education is one of the priority areas where we can reduce the implemented safety measures. In order to improve the quality of the educational process and ease the daily life of the parents of the youngest students, the Cabinet of Ministers agreed that from 8 February, 1st and 2nd grade students will resume on-site studying with safety measures in place. In turn, all students who are in socially emotional risk groups will have the opportunity to receive in-person counselling.
Stricter requirements in the area of trade
The Cabinet of Ministers conceptually agreed on the need to significantly strengthen safety measures and restrictions at points of sale, for example, by setting strict requirements for the control of the number of visitors and the organisation of flow. It is also envisaged that the State Police will have the right to close the sales outlet for up to seven days for violations of Covid-19 containment measures. Such a penalty may be applied to an individual store as well as to the entire shopping centre or market.
Distance selling solutions are still the safest shopping option for citizens and should be applied wherever possible. On the other hand, before going to the store in person, the need for purchases must be assessed even more carefully; a shopping list must be prepared in order to reduce the time spent in the store.
Such safeguards are necessary in order to take the first gradual steps towards more extensive sales on-site and to gradually move away from restricting the range of goods to be purchased on-site.
Fewer opportunities for foreign travel
The Cabinet of Ministers assessed that there is a high risk of importing Covid-19 from abroad, including new highly contagious types of the virus. The task of the Interinstitutional Coordination Group is to evaluate solutions to limit insignificant foreign travel and to ensure the control of travellers. For example, it is planned to restrict flights from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal.
The government conceptually agreed that international movement for people who need to leave or come to Latvia for work and study should be maintained. It is also intended to allow the international movement of people for family reunion, care for a family member, participation in a funeral and other humanitarian reasons.
At the same time, it is planned to strengthen the control of travellers in order to make sure that people only travel to and from Latvia abroad for justified reasons and they do not endanger the rest of society by importing the Covid-19 infection.