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Will the new measures boost vaccination rates?

Latvia enters state of emergency due to COVID

Latvia enters state of emergency due to COVID

The number of daily cases has hit its highest level since the start of the pandemic

Starting today, Latvia enters a state of emergency – the third time to do so since the start of the COVID pandemic. The extraordinary measure will last for three months, having been necessitated by an ever-rising rate of daily and active cases. The 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 people is 908.6, which is a grim record in terms of pandemic management.

That being said, not all numbers are that bleak given that at least the mortality rate is still half of what it used to be back in the winter season. However, its digits are also climbing. Latvia’s vaccination rate is far from exemplary, but it is decent – the country now passed the 50%-mark of people who have received at least one dose (47% are fully vaccinated).

What does that mean for people living in the country?

Clearly, vaccination is not proceeding fast enough so the Government had to dial up the measures that are in place in order to slow down the spread of infections. Now that the Latvian population is almost evenly split between vaccinated and non-vaccinated, sort of parallel spaces have been introduced for both groups.

In the labour sphere - The government has decided to impose an obligation to vaccinate employees in the public sector - including state and municipal institutions. Wherever possible, remote working should be implemented in the private sector. If private-sector employees work with clients, however, they will be required to present a vaccination or recovered status certificate in order to continue working.

When it comes to shopping and services, Latvia has introduced two labels: ‘green mode’ and ‘red mode’. Shops marked as ‘green mode’ can only be visited by people who present vaccination or COVID-recovery certificates. Non-essential shops in malls, however, will be closed to everyone on weekends and public holidays.

As for the hospitality and cultural sectors, non-vaccinated people will not be allowed to access restaurants and will only have the option of takeaways or deliveries. Restaurants can have no more than 4 people per table, with a distance between tables at least 3 metres. Catering, entertainment and religious sites will stay closed between 9 pm and 6 am. The maximum number of visitors to a cultural event in a ‘green mode’ is 1000 people, divided into sectors of 300 people.

Educational activities will continue on-site and in-person, however, all students will have to wear face masks and extracurricular activities will be severely curtailed. There is always an option that if the situation continues to worsen, education might have to move online. Only vaccinated or recovered students can attend university and college courses.

Non-vaccinated people will also be denied public transport fare discounts, although for the time being this will not apply to Riga. Its e-ticket system is outdated and it cannot distinguish who is vaccinated and who is not, but authorities there have expressed readiness to find a provision.

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