Last Updated: 01.04.2020

COVID-19

INFO AND HELPLINES

Hotline for Covid-19 related inquiries (24 hours, 7 days a week) - 8345​

Q&A - travel and boarder control
  • What rules and requirements now apply to long-distance lorry [truck] drivers?
    In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, long-distance lorry drivers have specific additional rules they must observe in the course of doing their work, and those include, amongst other things, abiding by the principle of maintaining a distance of two metres between themselves and the next person; cleaning the cab of their lorry every single day; when climbing into and out of the lorry cab, they must either disinfect their hands or wash them with soap. And when at home, there are also new requirements that must be carefully followed by long-distance lorry drivers and these include: calling, in Latvia, to 113 or 8303 in the case that they experience any symptoms of an acute respiratory infection (coughing, a raised body temperature, shortness of breath); they must limit and lessen contacts with others (for example, they may not take in any guests and they cannot make any private visits to see someone else); they should take advantage of receiving deliveries of food and other supplies at home and avoid contact with those who are delivering goods, for example, by asking for assistance from those in their household, or if there is no other solution, when they go to purchase food at the store, they must do so wearing a mask, keeping a strict distance of two metres from others, and only go to shop when there are the fewest possible people present.      
  • Why are people still allowed to enter the country if international passenger transport was terminated on 17 March 2020?
    The flights or ferry trips are currently operated only to allow the Latvian residents and foreigners whose habitual residence is Latvia to return.The need for such flights is coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and authorised by the Minister for Transport.
  • What requirements do people returning to Latvia on repatriation flight have to fulfil?
    After arrival:
    *sign a form certifying that you will comply with special precautionary measures;
    *stay at home, avoid workplace, public places and mass event venues for 14 days;
    *measure body temperature twice a day – in the morning and the evening - for 14 days and in case of high temperature, cough, short breath immediately call 113 or 8303;
    *do not invite anyone home or meet anyone in private, do not attempt to make direct contact with others. Avoid public transport as much as possible;
    *use home delivery services or relatives to bring you the essential items and food, ask them to leave the shopping by the front door;
    *if there is no one to help you with shopping, go shopping when there are fewer people in the shop, use face mask and keep 2m distance from other shoppers.
  • Why does Lithuania cover the repatriation costs of its citizens, but Latvia does not?
    The government has currently proposals on the agenda for a possible covering of repatriation costs for individual population groups. Please follow the up-to-date information.
  • Can Latvian nationals leave the country in emergency and if so, what are the rules?
    As from 17 March, the movement of persons and vehicles through airport, port, railway and road border crossing points at the European Union’s external border, as well as at border crossing points intended for local border traffic, other than freight transport, has been prohibited. This means that border control has not been reintroduced at the internal borders (at the land borders between Latvia and Lithuania, and Latvia and Estonia, as well as at the air and sea border crossing points with connecting flights/trips between Schengen member states, e.g., Riga-Stockholm etc.) and leaving the country is not forbidden. However, it should be taken into account that the respective neighbouring countries, e.g., Estonia and Lithuania, have reintroduced border control and restricted the movement of persons. The travel ban does not apply to the following: * employees and passengers of the providers of transportation and passenger services, crews of passenger, freight or technical flights and trips; * passengers carried by the State aircraft or military transport; *seafarers, so that they could return to Latvia or to their workplace on board ships; * staff and crews of freight transportation services, if they do not display symptoms of an acute respiratory disease and have not been recognised as having been in contact with the sick. Exceptions regarding the movement of persons and vehicles can be authorised by the Chief of the State Border Guard within the limits of his competence, having considered the validity of the reasons for travel. An application explaining the situation and background documents confirming the fact should be submitted electronically by sending an email to: od@rs.gov.lv
  • Estonia is offering the option to submit electronic applications or exiting the country, for example for business trips. Why doesn’t Latvia provide such an option?It is currently possible to purchase tickets for voyages from Riga to other countries that have been allowed by the Minister of Transportation, information about these voyages is available on the website of the Ministry of Transportation. Furthermore, the Chief of the Border Guard may issue permits to exit the country, if the voyage does not fall within the restrictions listed in Cabinet of Ministers Order No. 103 and does not cross the internal border. In order to apply for such a permit, one must send an application by e-mail to od@rs.gov.lv with a substantiation of the necessity and annexing supporting documents. If the voyage involves crossing an internal border, a permit from the Chief of the Border Guard is not necessary. It must be taken into consideration that many countries have implemented strict travelling and entrance restrictions, therefore we urge you to follow the latest information and make sure that it is indeed possible to reach your intended destination.
  • Is there any information on when citizens will be repatriated to Latvia from Georgia?
    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently actively working to resolve these issues, including returning citizens home from Georgia. The latest information about is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.​
  • From when is the passenger traffick suspended?
    From 00.00 on 17.03, international passenger transport is suspended through airport, port, railway and road border crossing points at the European Union’s external border to/from Latvia; from the same time onwards, Russia is suspending passenger travel by rail.
  • Will Latvian nationals be able to enter the country after midnight on March 17?
    Latvian nationals can always enter the country, however, opportunities to do so are limited due to border crossing restrictions introduced by other European countries. People can return to Latvian by any means of transport until 23:59 on March 16, as of 00:00 on March 17 - only by private car, on foot or by specially organised transport with a permit from the Minister of Transport. Regular commercial travel is not permitted.
  • If I have booked a charter flight back to Latvia, what should I do?
    If you are scheduled to return to Latvia with a travel group on a charter flight from, for example, Hurghada, you will be able to return as soon as your travel agent is authorised by the Ministry of Transport. All busses with Latvian nationals reaching the Russian-Latvian border are required to obtain authorisation of the Ministry of Transport.
  • Will Latvian nationals be able to enter the country after midnight on March 17?
    Latvian nationals can always enter the country, however, opportunities to do so are limited due to border crossing restrictions introduced by other European countries. People can return to Latvian by any means of transport until 23:59 on March 16, as of 00:00 on March 17 - only by private car, on foot or by specially organised transport with a permit from the Minister of Transport. Regular commercial travel is not permitted.
  • Will any visas be issued to enter Latvia?
    Diplomatic missions and consular posts do not issue any entry visas for travel to Latvia during the state of emergency period in the country - currently until 14 April including.
    Exceptions - on humanitarian grounds, a foreign national may be issued an entry visa to Latvia; however, those reasons are strongly restricted: funeral of a family member, serious illness, minor children without a legal guardian.
  • Do the entry restrictions also apply to border crossing points for border area traffic and foreigners with special border area entry permits?
     Yes.
  • How to act if the national of Latvia does not have a possibility to return until 17.03, 00:00?
    We kindly ask to register in the Consular Register at www.latvia.lv and contact the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by phone: +371 26337711
  • Which countries have already closed their borders?
    As of 15 March: Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Ukraine, Poland
  • What should I do if I don't have a solution for travelling back to Latvia?
    Stay where you are and contact the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by telephone +371 26 33 77 11. This is not an ordinary situation where the most convenient solution can be chosen.
  • How will the Riga International Airport operate?
    The flights are suspended on 17.03, at 00:00 or midnight from 16 March to 17 March and it will be effective until 14 April.
  • How can I get back to Latvia from Ireland and the UK?
    You should first fly from Ireland or the UK to any Russian or Belorussian airport, then travel by road.
  • What should Russian and Belarusian nationals do if they want to return to their country of residence?
    Russian and Belarusian nationals are free to return their country of residence by crossing the land border at border crossing points on the Latvian - Russian and Latvian - Belarus border also after March 17.
  • What is happening on the border with Lithuania?
    Lithuania has reintroduced the border control at the internal EU borders and the entry into Lithuania is refused for foreigners, incl. residents of Latvia; the transit will be possible for only a few days.
  • What is happening on border with Estonia?
    Estonia has also declared the state of emergency and increased border checks.
  • Will Latvians and permanent residents who are returning to Latvia be required to undergo health checks at the border?                         
    As of this time, such health checks are not planned at land borders. From 18.00 on 15 March, in cooperation with the Emergency Medical Service, it will be possible to run health checks on passengers showing symptoms of the disease upon arrival at Riga Airport. Medical stations will be located at the arrivals terminals E and C, before baggage reclaim.
  • Will foreign nationals be allowed to cross the border and enter Latvia by car after 12PM, 17 March?
    From 12PM, 17 March, only Latvian nationals and foreign nationals permanently residing in Latvia will be allowed to cross the Latvian border and enter the country by car. Foreign nationals can leave Latvia in their private vehicles at any time. Restrictions do not apply to road carriers.
  • What can we do if we are stuck in foreign country which doesn't have "airBaltic" flights to Latvia, and we can't use a personal mode of transport?
    Please fill in the registration form in the homepage of "airBaltic" regarding the repatriation flights after March 17. Flight schedule will be planned based on these requests. You will have to purchase the tickets for the repatriation flights (they are not for free). In case there will not be enough passengers for full flight, the opportunity to gather passengers from different locations in the closest airport will be considered.
  • Do ALL people returning from abroad need to go into 14-day self-quarantine?
    Yes!
  • How many drivers can there be on one commercial truck?
    The same number of drivers as the number of seats in the vehicle.
  • Are drivers subject to 14-day quarantine when they arrive from affected countries?
    Pursuant to the Order of the Cabinet of Ministers “Regarding the Declaration of an Emergency Situation”, the requirement regarding self-isolation in the place of residence (home quarantine) does not apply to employees of transport and passenger transport service providers who return from business trips and missions if they do not have signs of acute respiratory infection and are not identified as contact persons.
  • What should people/colleagues/neighbours do if they find out that someone, who has returned from abroad, has not gone into self-quarantine and is walking around, taking side jobs and so on instead? If you call the police, they just say it is not their responsibility.
    If State Police receives information about such persons, it responds, if possible, by warning the person of their obligation to comply with legal restrictions and imposing an administrative penalty.

     

  • Current travel information
  • Travel restrictions introduced by foreign countries
  • Changes in provision of consular services abroad
  • Latest consular information, including embassies
  • Latest from Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 
 
 
Q&A - education
  • How can a kindergarten comply with the restriction that no more than two people may congregate?
    Preschool education institutions must strictly adhere to the recommendations of epidemiologists and the precautions issued. The rule of maintaining a 2-meter distance and restrictions on congregating in public spaces are not directly applicable to preschool education institutions, which, based on a government decree must provide for on-duty groups during the state of emergency.
  • What will happen with the centralised exams?
    State centralised exams are suspended. Foreign language exams for Grade 12 are postponed until 12-15 May 2020.
    • English (combined) – written – 12 May 2020, verbal – 12, 13 and 14 May;
    • German (combined) – written and verbal 13 May 2020;
    • Russian (combined) – written – 14 May 2020, verbal – 14 and 15 May;
    • French (combined) – written and verbal – 15 May 2020.
  • Will kindergartens work?
    Pre-school educational establishments and institutions providing childcare will have to ensure the work of ‘on-duty’ groups that will look after those children whose parents are unable to do so. To receive this service, parents have to submit once a week a written statement informing that the child and family have not visited any COVID-19 affected country and have not been in contact with COVID-19 infected persons or contact persons. The statement should also include information that parents do not have any other possibility of providing childcare.
  • Will schools, music and art colleges, secondary schools, universities be open?
    All kinds of educational activities involving direct contact inside or outside an educational establishment, including delivery of all kinds of professional/vocational and informal training/education programmes/subjects in culture or sports (practice, competitions and rehearsals), have been suspended.
  • What about teacher seminars, courses, methodological days, conferences for 20, 30, 40, 50 participants?
    Educational activities (courses, lectures, etc.) for adults may also be carried out only remotely during the emergency situation.
  • What are the arrangements concerning the education process at specialised schools?
    All specialised education institutions are implementing distance learning. On a case-by-case basis, the school, in cooperationn with local authorities, may consider offering support to the student at home, also by involving support staff etc.
Q&A - gathering restrictions and events
  • Is it allowed to hold weddings?
    Marriage registration at civil registry offices or churches is allowed with the presence of the individuals entering into marriage and two witnesses of legal age. Civil registry offices and churches must ensure that the requirements established by epidemiologists and the 2-meter physical distance rule is observed. Wedding receptions and parties are not permitted during the state of emergency and must be postponed.
  • Will XII Latvian Youth Song and Dance Festival be held in 2020?
    Youth Song and Dance Festival has been postponed to summer of 2021. Further details will be announced before the end of academic year.
  • Are adult football teams allowed to practice?
    No. All team practices are suspended until further notice. According to emergency rules, to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection, all public and private events are suspended until lifting of the state of emergency. These restrictions do not apply to outdoor funeral services where 2m social distancing is ensured. Enforcement of these emergency rules is carried out by the State Police in collaboration with Municipal Police.
  • Is one allowed to organise events or participate in them?
    During the time of the state of emergency, in order to mitigate and stop the spread of COVID-19, any and all public events are prohibited, including, inter alia, gatherings; marches and parades; demonstrations and picketing; religious activities and religious work if that involves congregating and gathering together; activities taking place indoors at sports centres; and any and all kinds of private events at which people gather, with the exception of funerals held outdoors where the principle of two metre social distancing is observed along with other epidemiological security rules. Places for cultural activities; entertainment; outdoor sports and various other recreational activities are required to open not earlier than 8 a.m. in the morning and shut not later than 10 p.m. in the evening. 
  • What restrictions and rules apply to stores during Latvia's state of emergency to address COVID-19?
    Stores and shops are considered to be a public space, where it is especially important to be cautious, and to go to them as rarely as possible, and when going to choose a time when there are fewer shoppers, and not to linger while shopping but to be as expeditious as possible, also taking into account and heeding the principle of staying two metres apart from others and to closely observe the rules and precautions each store has instituted. On the weekend and on holidays, the following kinds of stores are permitted to operate in shopping centres and malls (that is, ones which are permanent with an area of at least ten thousand square metres, or, ones in which the stores have not less than ten employees or personnel serving clients): stores offering food and groceries; pharmacies including those which sell veterinary medicines; vaccination services; stores selling eyeglasses and sunglasses; pet food stores; dry cleaning services; stores selling products for personal hygiene and household goods; building supply and garden supply stores; and stores selling newspapers and magazines.  
  • Are weddings and funerals allowed?
    Except for outdoor funeral services during which 2m social distancing and other epidemiological safety requirements are met, all private events are currently banned.
  • Question: What is the minimum distance to keep from others in public areas?
    A minimum distance of 2 meters must be maintained in all public spaces both inside and outside. This is a crucial step to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
    The 2-meter distance can be waived in public spaces inside and outside if:
    No more than 2 people are together;
    People living in the same household;
    Parents and their underaged children even if they do not reside in the same household;
    People performing their work or service duties.
  • How many people can gather at once in a public place?
    All public events and gatherings are banned right now. According to rules, people must keep 2m distance from each other in all public places. People should avoid public places altogether, if possible, or go out in public only in case of emergency. Rules on 2m distancing and simultaneous gathering at indoor or outdoor public spaces do not apply to groups of two persons; members of the same household; parents and their underage children living in separate households; persons performing public service or public works.
  • Is one allowed to organise events or participate in them?
    During the time of the state of emergency, in order to mitigate and stop the spread of COVID-19, any and all public events are prohibited, including, inter alia, gatherings; marches and parades; demonstrations and picketing; religious activities and religious work if that involves congregating and gathering together; activities taking place indoors at sports centres; and any and all kinds of private events at which people gather, with the exception of funerals held outdoors where the principle of two metre social distancing is observed along with other epidemiological security rules. Places for cultural activities; entertainment; outdoor sports and various other recreational activities are required to open not earlier than 8 a.m. in the morning and shut not later than 10 p.m. in the evening. 
  • Which stores in shopping centres will be closed on weekends and holidays?
    In order to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, during the time of the state of emergency, only the stores in shopping centres and malls which are mainly selling food and groceries, medicines and pharmaceuticals including medications and remedies for animals, pet food, eyeglasses and optics, household and hygiene products, and supplies for building and garden care.
  • Given the COVID-19 situation today, will Latvia’s theatres, concert halls, museums and other cultural establishments be open for business?
    Up till at least 14 April, all theatres, concert halls, and museums are closed. The Latvian National Library and the Latvian National Art Museum will not be open to the public during this period. Local cultural centres are shut. Music and art schools are also closed and they will be offering opportunities for studying and learning from home. The Art Academy, the Culture Academy and the Music Academy are closed and only individualised classes will be taking place.
  • When and how will people get back money spent on tickets for cultural events, which are currently being postponed due to the emergency situation?
    Cultural organisations - public and private - are currently actively postponing the events. Information about the canceled and postponed events is available at bilesuserviss.lv and bilesuparadize.lv.
    You can seek reimbursement after the exipiration of the emergency situation.
  • Will church services be permitted?
    No.
  • Who and how will control adherence to the restrictions?
    Citizens failing to comply with the restrictions and bans issued by the government may be penalised with a fine of up to EUR 350 (Administrative Violations Code Article 176(2)).
    The State Police in collaboration with the Municipal Police will monitor public areas where people may assemble, as well as react accordingly to incoming information, assessing possible violations. The State Police urges citizens to be responsible and adhere to the precautionary measures introduced. Each case will be evaluated separately. The objective of the precautionary measures is mainly to prevent and stop mass assemblies of people. Penalties will be issued for violation of these restrictions.
  • Are cinemas open?
    Cinemas have been closed.
  • Will the Youth Song and Dance Festival take place this year?
    The Youth Song & Dance Festival castings are suspended until 14 April, based on declaration of emergency situation, but the dates of the festival have not been postponed yet. Organisers follow the developments of epidemiological situation in our country and instructions of competent authorities. Simultaneously, organisers are working on three potential scenarios: conducting the festival in the planned dates, postponing the festival later this summer or postponing to a future date. The decision will be made, mainly considering the aspects of public health.
Q&A - business
  • What rules public catering enterprises, cafes and restaurants must follow?
    Cafes, restaurants and other public catering enterprises should ensure that
    - there is two meters distance between tables;
    - there are no more than two persons sitting at the table at the same time, except if they are members of the family (living in the same household);
    - there is always two meters distance between persons at the cash-desk and in service area;
    - there is no crowding – at least 4m2 per customer in catering area;
    - take – away service is provided;
    - there is a sign at the entrance asking not to enter the public catering facility, if one has symptoms of respiratory infection;
    - customers are informed about the maximum number of persons allowed in the cafe or restaurant at the same time;
    - there are clearly legible signs in visible places (at least at the cash-desk and entrance of the public catering facility) encouraging social responsibility and reminding to keep 2 meters social distance while in this facility;
    - every 15 minutes an announcement is played encouraging customers not to linger in the public catering facility for too long and meet the requirements regarding social distancing.
    Public catering enterprise can choose to play the announcements not only in Latvian, but also in foreign languages. Voice recording available here.
  • What additional conditions must merchants observe in organizing the customer flow in shops?
    In a sales venue, there must be no more than one customer per 4 square meters of the sales area. To prevent crowding, the merchant must ensure physical (social) distancing of 2 m between the shoppers at the entrance. In addition, the merchants are also urged to enable, as much as possible, the shoppers to observe the 2 m distance in car parking areas.
  • Are employers allowed to inform their employees that a colleague of theirs has been infected with Covid-19?
    Employers have the right to inform their employees that a case of Covid-19 has been confirmed among staff without disclosing the name, surname (or other identifying information) of the person and to inform employees that they must abide by the safety and health precautions regarding Covid-19 as established by the authorities.
  • To which stores and businesses do the government requirements as specified by the Ministry of Economics and Order No. 103 of the Cabinet of Ministers apply?
    To all stores and shops including those operating in shopping centres, markets and malls as well as those which are conducting their business at their own separate locations.
  • Does the shop need 2m safe distance tape markings only in checkout area or throughout the store?
    Shops should at least tape off the checkout area. Tape markings should be well visible. Socially responsible retailers are welcome to tape off other areas of their store, if possible. Marking should be visible and ensure that shoppers keep 2m distance to prevent possible contamination of a shop with Covid-19.
  • What constitutes a shopping centre?
    A shopping centre is a shopping facility which is designed for permanent and systematic sales activity and where various merchants or service providers operate out of individual sales points.
  • What are the additional requirements for limiting COVID-19 to be met by traders?
    All traders must ensure social distancing – a clearly legible indication has to be placed in a visable place (at least at the cash registers) informing that visitors must be socially responsible and keep a distance of 2 metres from the person standing in front. The requirements apply to all trading venues, including markets and street trading. Traders are also invited to take other measures to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. “Recommendations and Requirements for Traders".
  • Government has decided to close the shopping centers during the weekend. What is the definition of shopping center?
    Shopping center is a shopping facility containing several separate retail stores and service establishments run by different providers.
  • What does the proposal by the Ministry of Culture to re-examine advertising restrictions (amendments to the Consumer Rights Protection Law) in order to support the media during the emergency situation created by Covid-19 entail? Will restrictions on advertising alcohol and gambling be lifted?
    With increasing consumption of content on digital platforms and platforms registered abroad, the advertising restrictions established in Latvia can no longer achieve their intended goal – to limit the advertising of certain goods and services in the information space of Latvia; instead they are placing the local media at a disadvantage. Therefore, the Ministry of Culture has proposed re-examining the rules for advertising goods and services, which excessively restrict advertising of loan services, thus also limiting advertising revenues for media registered in Latvia. The proposed amendments still allow sellers to offer the option to purchase certain goods (such as mobile phones, household appliances or cars) by payment in instalments. It is proposed to add mortgage loans and study or student loans as exceptions to the advertising restriction. The Ministry of Culture is not examining the possibility to lower restrictions on advertising of alcohol and gambling.
  • Can public catering businesses provide home deliveries? What formalities are needed to do so?
    Companies that have registered with the Food and Veterinary Service may perform deliveries and no additional registration is needed.
  • What should be done if someone in our place of work has been diagnosed with COVID-19? Any suggestions regarding disinfecting the place?
    It is important to carefully clean and disinfect all frequently touched objects and areas, e.g. door handles, faucets, surfaces of walls and windows, surfaces in toilets and bathrooms, as well as phones and tablets, etc. The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has prepared recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfecting. The guidelines are available here: https://spkc.gov.lv/en/news/get/nid/530
  • Can 24-hour stores operate during the emergency situation?
    There are currently no specific limitations for 24-hour shops. At the same time, these stores are bound by the same requirements applicable to all shops, including the requirement regarding keeping distance, etc. 
  • Which are considered to be crisis affected sectors entitled to state support?
    The Ministry of Economy is currently analysing the impact on sectors. The list of sectors and respective support conditions are expected to be preferred for consideration at the Government session on 24 March. Situation will be closely monitored with the possibility of adding new sectors to the list.
  • What are the options for the leadership and shareholders to take important decisions for the business remotely?
    Government has supported the amendments to the Commercial Law, stating that until September 1, 2020 during the emergency situation the board of company, co-op company or society is entitled to call the meeting of the participants (shareholders) or general meeting of the members specifying that participants (shareholders) or members are entitled to attend, participate and vote at meetings by electronic means. It will also be possible to hold meeting of participants (shareholders) or general meeting of members entirely electronically.
  • What should an employer do when an empoyee is afraid to come to work, e.g., to work at the cash register? 
    Legislation does not directly regulate cases like this, therefore the legal instruments at the employer's disposal should be applied. It is understandable that an employee may be afraid of getting infected while at work. The employer must carry out safety briefings and training - to tell employees about the COVID-19 virus, symptoms, preventive measures, display information in visible places, ensure availability of disinfectants (with alcohol contents of 60-95%), soap, waste bins that can be easily emptied (without touching the content), ensure regular cleaning or disinfection of surfaces, if necessary, means of protection, protective masks, gloves etc.) The employer can also organise work in a more flexible manner - revise working hours, schedules, ensure that a safe distance is observed, etc. The employer and an employee should agree on performance of work duties. As an exception, if the employer belongs to a risk group, e.g., has a chronical condition, is a senior citizen, etc., they can be offered other assignments not related to serving customers, where such a possibility exists, or the empoyer can apply other solutions provided for in legislation.
    For further information, see information on the website of the Ministry of Welfare.
  • Very many companies are practically at a standstill: will the State compensate for losses?
    Businesses in the crisis-affected sectors will be able to apply for deferral of payment of taxes. If a crisis-affected company is at standstill, the State-compensated remuneration for employees will be 75% of remuneration determined in the Labour Law, but not exceeding EUR 700 per calendar month. The idle-time benefit is not subject to payroll tax (personal income tax) and mandatory State social insurance contributions. The State and local authorities will be entitled to exempt businesses in a crisis-affected sector from rent payments or to reduce them. It will also be possible not to set any interest and contractual penalties in the case of delay of payments, except on those for services used - electric power, water supply and other property maintenance services.
  • What state aid will be made available to businesses and will there be tax breaks?
    Those paying personal income tax, are allowed to not make advance payments on personal income tax for 2020. It is planned that the State Revenue Service will refund overpaid VAT in a shorter period than established in the Law on VAT, thus providing free financial resources to be used for overcoming the crisis caused by COVID-19. The deadline for submitting annual reports has also been extended. Local governments will be able to postpone deadlines for real estate tax payments. An option has been made possible to increase reserve capital of the national development finance institution ALTUM, allowing businesses affected by COVID-19 to take advantage of various support instruments – loan guarantees, as well as loans for overcoming the crisis.
Q&A - health
  • Do residents and caretakers of apartment blocks have to abide by the physical distancing rules?
    The requirements and precautions established in the country must be complied with in all public areas, including shared premises in apartment blocks – stairways, hallways, stroller rooms, basements, attics, underground parking, elevators, courtyards, green areas, playgrounds, parking lots and other areas used by all building residents.
    Residents are urged to:
    - Avoid visiting shared premises if possible, or maintain a 2-meter distance from others if these premises have to be visited. For example, when passing a neighbour in the stairway, do so in a place where you can maintain as big a distance from each other as possible;
    - Avoid taking the elevator. However, if you do take the elevator, it can only be used by the residents of a single household at a time;
    - Do not visit children’s playgrounds;
    - Do not host house parties or any other events with the participation of people who are not members of your household;
    - Observe personal epidemiological precautions (wash or disinfect your hands before and after visiting shared premises, cover your mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, etc.);
    - Avoid touching surfaces in shared premises (handrails, etc.). If that is not possible, after touching such surfaces (doorknobs, door code locks, elevator buttons, light switches, etc.) use sanitiser, tissues and wash your hands thoroughly;
    - Do not shake hands or hug when meeting neighbours. There are many other ways to greet each other.
    In ensuring the safety and health of building residents, caretakers are urged to:
    - Ensure regular and increased sanitary maintenance and surface disinfection in the building;
    - Inform residents about the implemented precautions and the frequency thereof, by placing a sanitary maintenance and disinfection schedule sheet in a place visible to all residents;
    - Provide hand sanitiser or disposable tissues in stairways;
    - Inform residents about the necessary physical distance to be maintained;
    - Urge residents to observe personal epidemiological precautions, especially to wash or disinfect hands before and after visiting shared premises, to cover the mouth with disposable tissues when sneezing, etc.;
    - Perform only the most necessary, emergency repairs to avoid possible spread of the virus between households and repair workers;
    - Not change, perform early or repeated verification of water meters and other meters in apartments (including heating cost calculators), which are not commercial meters. These activities will be possible after the end of the state of emergency;
    - For the duration of the state of emergency, postpone checking meters (which are not commercial meters) located in apartments or installing such meters in apartments where meters have not yet been installed. These activities will be possible after the end of the state of emergency;
    - Not call joint meetings of apartment owners (with physical presence) and observe other restrictions on congregating during the state of emergency.
  • Who can access free Covid-19 tests?
    Efficient containment of Covid-19 depends on early detection of infection in risk groups. It is also crucial to prevent the spreading of virus inside hospitals. If symptoms are characteristic of respiratory infection (coughing, high temperature, etc.), call your doctor and stay home. If symptoms are similar to Covid-19, call 8303. In case of severe symptoms (fever, shortness of breath) call 113. Main protocols have not changed. State covers Covid-19 tests for symptomatic people (having cough, high temperature, shortness of breath for no other apparent reason with same clinical characteristics), those who have developed symptoms during 14 days after returning from abroad or close contact with Covid-19 patient (people who have been in close contact with Covid-19 patients according to definition of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention). Other groups gradually tested for Covid-19: - all patients hospitalised for pneumonia; - patients hospitalised for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS ) for no other apparent reason with same clinical characteristics, including SARS patients: - in the intensive care unit; - with double pneumonia cases of unknown aetiology; - patients with hospital-acquired acute respiratory infection treated in an in-patient setting; the following population groups with symptoms of acute respiratory infection: - emergency responders (policemen, firefighters, border force officers, customs officers and other servicemen); - pharmacists and assistant pharmacists; - employees of healthcare providers taking care of patients; - clients of social care homes (senior people with chronic conditions); - clients of shelters; - staff of social care homes and shelters. These population groups are subject to different testing procedures. For example, in some cases lists of persons to be tested for Covid-19 are submitted by employer. For more information (in Latvian), go to webpage of the Ministry of Health.
  • Should a person go for the COVID-19 test after 14 days of self-isolation to return to work?
    If a person has no symptoms of the disease, there is no need to conduct the test. In case of symptoms, tests must be performed.
  • How contagious is COVID-19 in comparison to seasonal flu?
    According to data, every COVID-19 infected person can in turn infect 2,5 other persons, and this indicator is higher than the one for seasonal flu. COVID-19 is more dangerous, because currently there is no specific treatment, no vaccine for this disease. Hence, the at-risk groups are less protected against COVID-19 compared to the seasonal flu.
  • Can I make other GP appointments unrelated to Covid-19?
    GP appointments are not restricted. However, due to outbreak of Covid-19, it is advisable for anyone to think carefully before leaving home. It is best to contact your GP before making any appointments at the practice.
  • If someone has recovered from Covid-19, are they still carrying virus and can infect others?
    It is possible. A person that has recovered from Covid-19 should still be very careful and follow all restrictions, including social distancing, washing hands more regularly, thoroughly disinfect rooms, etc. Do not forget that this is a new virus and there is little scientific evidence available. Full recovery is achieved when two consecutive Covid-19 tests have turned out negative.
  • What should one do if they notice disinformation on COVID-19?
    It's important to be astute and exercise good judgement with respect to sources of information and their content, and we are asking people to act responsibly especially with respect to information on COVID-19 and to go to trusted media and official sites when examining the outbreak. If you happen to discern disinformation on COVID-19, warn and inform the people in your circle including in the digital environment. When the disinformation appears in social media, use the opportunities and options offered by a particular platform to report the incident to administrators. The State Police (Valsts policija) in Latvia monitor and control the spread of disinformation.
  • What can be done if the family doctor does not provide a medical certification for sick leave? 
    In the case of COVID-19, medical certification of being sick (a so-called slimības lapa) is given in the following circumstances: when a person tests positive for the COVID-19 virus; if an SPKC (The Disease Prevention and Control Centre) epidemiologist has identified the above-mentioned person as a "contact person" for someone who has tested positive with COVID-19 and who must go into quarantine; when the person has recently returned from a trip abroad is working at an educational institution attended by children, at a medical facility or social care institution; or if the person's child has tested positive for COVID-19 or if a child's epidemiologist has identified the person as a "contact-person". For questions on these matters, we invite you to call for advice to the Ministry of Health at tel. +371 67876191
  • How does authority control that the pharmacies do not rise the cost of goods during COVID-19 outbreak period?
    During the COVID-19 outbreak, Consumer Rights Protection Centre (CRPC) supervises commerce, including pharmacies, in order to stop anyone from selling “magical” remedies against COVID-19 or conducting unfair commercial practices including unfounded price increase. CRPC encourages customers to be observant and inform the centre of such cases.
  • How does COVID-19 virus spread?
    The virus spreads through saliva and nasal secretions of an infected person:
    1.Through direct contact with an infected person
    2. With tiny drops arising from speaking, sneezing or coughing.
    3. By touching surfaces and articles contaminated with respiratory secreations.
  • How long is the COVID-19 incubation period?
    The incubation period for COVID-19 is 2 to 14 days, with symptoms usually appearing within about 5 days.
  • What are COVID-19 symptoms?
    The disease, COVID-19, which is brought on by the novel coronavirus affects the respiratory tract and signs include a raised temperature, coughing, sore throat, and difficulty in breathing. These signs are usually mild in nature and they appear gradually and incrementally.
  • How can one avoid catching COVID-19?
    Preventative measures for COVID-19 are similar to those which would be used in the case of other infections of the upper respiratory system. Engage in frequent hand-washing, especially after coming into proximity with people who are ill or with people in their circle of contacts. When coughing or sneezing, be sure to dispose of kleenex (facial tissues) after a single use, and then wash your hands. To avoid falling ill with COVID-19, carefully observe social-distancing: that means placing two metres in between yourself and the next person and to stay away from places where lots of people are congregating, and, as much as possible, to stay home and do your work at a distance (telework).
  • Do facial masks protect against COVID-19 infection?
    Healthy people do not need to use face masks,as they do not protect against the potential risk of infection.The use of masks can help reduce the spread of the virus to people who are already sick – coughing, sneezing etc., and who have to visit public places. If a face mask is not available, the face may be covered by a scarf or a shawl.
  • What is the difference between self-isolation and quarantine?
    According to Infectologist Uga Dumpis, quarantine means you should not leave the house at all. Self-isolation means you can leave the house – for example, go for a nature walk alone. You should, however, avoid contact with others, keep at least 2m distance and be extra cautious, avoid touching any surfaces (door handles, lift buttons, etc.) in public places.
  • What should someone who has contracted COVID-19 do?
    People who have received a laboratory confirmation of the Covid-19 diagnosis and whose health condition permits them to receive treatment at home, must stay in strict quarantine. During this time:
    * they may not leave their residence and must be available for communication and cooperation with their general practitioner and other medical personnel and must strictly abide by the instructions given;
    * quarantine can only be broken upon permission of the treating physician;
    * until then no guests may be hosted, and all direct contact with others must be avoided;
    * Covid-19 patients must purchase basic necessities and food by home delivery or with the help of friends and family. If needed, they may request support from the municipal social services, but avoiding direct contact with the social worker.
  • What is the regime to be observed by people who have been recognised as 'contacts' to someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19?
    ​People determined by the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control as having had contact with those infected with COVID-19 must do the following:

* stay at home for 14 days, they're are prohibited from going to work, visiting public venues and places with a high concentration of people;
* for 14 days, take their body temperature in the morning and evening, in the case of running a high temperature, having cough and shortness of breath, call 113 or 8303;
* avoid receiving visitors or making private visits and have any direct contacts with other people;
* as much as possible, avoid using public transportation; arrange home deliveries of groceries and basic necessities or use help from family members, who then leave deliveries at your doorstep. If other solutions are not possible, go shopping when there are fewer people in the shops, wearing a face mask and maintaining a 2m distance from other shoppers. Besides, the persons having been in contact with those infected have the right to request assistance from local authorities via social services, while avoiding direct contact with social workers. They must also be reacheable by phone, email etc., and cooperate with their GP and other medical personnel.

Q&A - other information
  • What if the shops do not meet the Covid-19 requirements?
    As the first step, the most effective action is to draw attention of employees and guards of respective store to the need to comply with requirements. If they fail to do so, please contact the management of the trading site. Compliance with restrictions at the trading site is monitored by the State Police and, if the situation cannot be resolved, the police will be called.
  • When a vehicle has been used for transport of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, how long should one wait before using the vehicle again after the vehicle has been thoroughly disinfected?
    Infectious disease experts recommend that you wait 48 hours after disinfecting the vehicle before using it again. 
  • Are the restrictions on congregating of no more than 2 people and others being observed at prisons?
    The government decision regarding the 2 people rule is not directly applicable to prisons as these are not considered public premises. However, to safeguard the health of staff and inmates, the Latvian Prison Administration has introduced additional precautions, including holding staff meetings or committee work with a limited number of participants or remotely. Staff members are urged to maintain distance between themselves and use protective gear. At several prisons, all staff members have their temperature taken upon coming in for their shift.
  • How can a pharmacist perform the COVID-19 test?
    Pharmacists and pharmacist assistants can apply for COVID-2019 test by requesting it through the pharmacy manager / employer.
  • What precaution measures should be taken if someone in the local municipality is diagnosed with COVID-19?
    There are no additional precautionary measures for local municipalities, where someone has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and their residents. However, everyone must comply with restrictions introduced by government as well as follow the advice of epidemiologists
  • How are COVID-19 patients monitored to abide by their quarantine?
    Upon request from the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC) the State Police requests and electronic communication providers provide information about the phone numbers of specific individuals and their location, if the relevant person has been identified as a contact person or an infected person. The data provided is forwarded to the CDPC for the purposes of epidemiological investigation and to verify that the person has disclosed truthful information about their movements.
  • What can be done if the family doctor does not provide a medical certification for sick leave? 
    In the case of COVID-19, medical certification of being sick (a so-called slimības lapa) is given in the following circumstances: when a person tests positive for the COVID-19 virus; if an SPKC (The Disease Prevention and Control Centre) epidemiologist has identified the above-mentioned person as a "contact person" for someone who has tested positive with COVID-19 and who must go into quarantine; when the person has recently returned from a trip abroad is working at an educational institution attended by children, at a medical facility or social care institution; or if the person's child has tested positive for COVID-19 or if a child's epidemiologist has identified the person as a "contact-person". For questions on these matters, we invite you to call for advice to the Ministry of Health at tel. +371 67876191
  • Does a person have to come to the court if she/he has received a summons to attend a hearing?
    We strongly call on the participants to the proceedings not to come to the court if the restrictions laid down in the Order of the Cabinet of Ministers apply or in the event of any signs of upper respiratory disorders. Everyone is invited to contact the court first by phone or by e-mail. The contact phone of the secretary is indicated in the summons.
  • What precautionary measures should be taken in public transport?
    Passengers are invited to use public transport only in significant cases, such as going to work, shop or pharmacy. Passengers are asked to avoid driving in vans. When getting on and off public transport and waiting for public transport, a distance of 2 metres must be observed, and passengers should not sit next to each other. Tickets should be purchased remotely. Carriers must limit the number of passengers on the journey to ensure that not more than half of seats are occupied.
  • What should I do, if I know or suspect that a person is infected with COVID-19?
    The information should be passed only to the responsible authorities based on the competencies (The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control). By informing any third parties, which are not related to the responsible authorities, including publishing such information in social media, e.g. mentioning person’s name, surname and other personally identifiable information, you infringe person’s privacy rights and rights on data protection.
  • Does the webpage www.pandemic.lv comply with rules and regulations?
    The webpage www.pandemic.lv is meant as a platform where people can connect with one another, provide support to others, and find out about services provided by various enterprises. Anyone can register on the site via their Facebook account and show where they are on the map. Points on the map which are marked with particular cases of COVID-19 contain open source publicly available information, and do not show the places where specific persons are living. Rather the site has been set up such that general information about cases of COVID-19 are shown within the scope of a particular territory. In this manner, the map does not give away the location of people who have been infected with the virus. 
  • Where can we find the statistics on the spread of COVID-19 in Latvia?
    Statistics on COVID-19 cases in Latvia are compiled and updated once a day by the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. More detailed information at: https://arkartassituacija.gov.lv/
  • Landlord has asked him to provide information on whether there are any Covid-19 infected people living in the house. Can landlord request such information?
    According to Data State Inspectorate, you must give information regarding infected persons only to responsible authorities (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) who handle such cases. You do not have to give such information to landlord. If landlord wants to protect tenants from the risk of infection, one way to do it is more regular wet cleaning with disinfectants.
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  • Can a person currently struggling to fulfil the obligations in scope of insolvency proceeding expect any support? 
    If debtor is unable to find a paid job or has temporarily lost working capacity, court may already now order to pay only half of the regular amount paid to creditors. Moreover, additional changes in the regulatory framework on individual insolvency are being considered to protect debtors from similar situations. Please follow the latest information to get all updates.
  • At present, both the State Police and municipal police are monitoring persons who have returned from abroad to ensure their self-isolation. Why is the State Police imposing penalties under Section 176.² of the Administrative Violations Code while there have been cases where the municipal police is applying Section 42 - why is not there a unified procedure?
    Compliance with the norms of counter-epidemic provisions under Section 42 of the Administrative Violations Code is supervised by the Health Inspectorate, while the State Police and municipal police are applying Section 176.².
  • Will the replacement/verification of water meters in flats be suspended? I do not want any strangers entering my home during the epidemic.
    The Ministry of Economy is working on amendments which are to stipulate that the verification, inspection and other operations concerning water meters do not need to be carried out during the declared state of emergency, i.e. as from 13 March, and 3 months after the end of emergency period.
  • Why are non-food stores not being closed to protect the public?
    The spread of the virus in Latvia is being contained in accordance with responsible decisions taken by experts in the sector, we are keeping a close eye on the situation and following the latest recommendations of the experts. However, we have to understand that for the established precautions to be effective, self-discipline, social example and attitudes are of crucial importance. We are doing everything we can to inform the public about necessary precautions.
  • How deep will the economic crisis be?
    Latvia’s economy is stable. Adherence to strict fiscal discipline over several years has paid off. However, the current crisis caused by COVID-19 has also had an impact on our economic environment, and this economic shock must be mitigated as much as possible through use of various instruments. The government will support businesses and workers, therefore we are working around the clock analysing and discussing new types of aid to keep the economy functioning as well as possible, and help it recover and return to business as usual as soon as possible.
  • Where to apply for state-paid sick-leave certificates?
    No procedures have been changed for residents, and payments for a sick-leave certificate are made as before. Changes affect the employer: if an employee needs a sick-leave certificate due to COVID-19, it is paid for by the state starting from day two.
  • Does government monitor commodity prices? How?
    ​Prices are being monitored. It is the responsibility of line ministries and their agencies. Emergency response group of Ministry of Agriculture is comprised of representatives of farming sector, retailers, food producers and ministry staff. Emergency response group meets daily to assess the trends. Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies conducts weekly retail price monitoring. Consumer Rights Protection Centre also monitors price fluctuations. They compare prices with general market demand and supply trends. Centre also recommends actions for preventing unfair competition and advantages. If necessary, Centre can request latest operational information from retailers. All consumers are recommended to be vigilant and reasonable when choosing products and services.
  • People are concerned about the availability of a sufficient amount of foodstuffs and about empty shelves in the shops, and a possible shortage of food.
    Production is going on smoothly and deliveries are taking place to a full amount. The production volumes of our food companies are far higher than local demand. The situation is being closely monitored, as logistics-related aspects may cause delays in supplies.
  • What support measures does the government plan to financially support those professionals of the cultural sector (make-up and costume artists, film operators, etc.) who have a piecework and are currently left without a source of income?
    Answer: On Thursday 19 March, the government will consider the support mechanisms for various sectors, incl. for those who are employed in the cultural sector. Please follow the information provided in official sources, incl. the website of the Ministry of Culture.
  • Does the state have sufficient food reserves?
    Local food producers manufacture twice the amount of food necessary for the population of Latvia. Thus there is plenty of food in reserve.
  • Have procedures already been established for institutions whose employees have been in direct contact with clients, as well as for cases when an employee informs the institution that they themselves or their contact person have been diagnosed with COVID-19?
    The CDPC is gathering information about contact persons individually. Each case is different. If necessary, the institution/establishment is informed about the required next steps (such as disinfection).
  • What will happen with delivery of mail?
    From Monday, all mail will be stored at post offices for a period of up to two months or 60 days instead of 30 days as it were until now. No additional charges will apply to extended storage period.
  • Why don't embassies work and it is difficult to contact them by emergency service hotlines?
    We've already received over 15 000 calls during one day, 6 lines are working. We kindly ask for your tolerance and understanding!
  • Is there any instance where to report about those who do not comply with the 14-day quarantine?
    During the emergency situation, the discipline of the people and the example and attitudes of those around us is very important.