Author: Zane Ozola
On 1 June, after assessing the epidemiological situation, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to follow the four-step plan and gradually ease Covid-19 control measures in education, culture, trade, and certain other areas.
The rapid improvement of the epidemiological situation in Latvia can be explained by the increasing collective immunity due to vaccination, as well as the seasonal nature of the virus. However, health experts emphasise that the public must continue to actively get vaccinated in order to allow for further reductions in the restrictive measures due to the spread of Covid-19 and to avoid having to reintroduce them in the autumn and winter.
It should also be noted that Latvia ranks 4th in the European Union in terms of morbidity, which is still very high. In addition, the spread of the so-called 'Indian variant' has been detected in our country in recent weeks, which might pose new challenges.
In order to fulfil the mandatory requirements for maintaining qualifications and ensure the possibility to complete practical parts of further vocational education programmes, attend qualification internships, take vocational qualification exams, and complete practical parts of vocational development programmes, face-to-face training will be allowed for groups of up to 10 people.
In educational premises, at least 3 m2 must be ensured per person, a 2-metre distance must be observed between persons, and ventilation of the premises is obligatory. Both the educational staff and students must use face masks. Participation in face-to-face training is only possible with a negative Covid-19 test result.
It should be noted that persons who have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 and can confirm this with a certificate may participate in adult vocational training programmes held on site with up to 20 persons in a group, without the need to wear masks, observe physical distancing, etc., however, ventilation of the premises remains obligatory.
The improvement of the epidemiological situation also makes it possible to ease certain restrictions in the field of culture, allowing individual visits to libraries, archives, museums, and museum-related art and history exhibition sites.
In these cultural places, one visitor or members of one household must be provided with at least 25 m2 of the publicly available space; one-way flow of visitors must be ensured.
Like sales outlets, cultural places must also establish a documented internal control system for the implementation of epidemiological safety measures and identify a person responsible for compliance with these measures.
Ventilation of the premises is also an important condition. Moreover, in places where increased gatherings of visitors are expected, advance booking of the visit slot must be ensured, if necessary.
On 1 June, at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, it was decided that shopping centres with a total trade area of more than 7000 m2 may also resume full operation, subject to compliance with the requirements of safe trade.
The changes also affect the locations where street sales are organised, as the number of traders is no longer limited to 20.
From now on, the maximum number of participants at a location of street sale is determined by the municipalities in their administrative territory, maintaining the requirement to ensure an epidemiologically safe shopping environment (2-metre distance and obligatory use of face masks), as well as controlling and reducing the risk of the Covid-19 infection.
Private gatherings and events
Restrictions have also been eased on the organisation of certain private events, allowing gatherings of up to 20 people outdoors and up to 10 people indoors for baptism and funeral ceremonies, regardless of the number of households.
It is also allowed to organise services dedicated to the memory of the deceased, subject to ensuring that epidemiological safety requirements are observed at the place where such services are held: a distance of 2 metres must be observed, the use of face masks is obligatory, and gatherings must be limited.
Until now, two households (up to 10 people) were allowed to meet or visit each other outdoors. The new rules allow gathering of up to 10 people from two households indoors, while up to 20 people can meet outdoors, regardless of the number of households.
Please note that amendments to Cabinet Regulation No.360 “Epidemiological Safety Measures for the Containment of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection” will enter into force on the day following their publication in the official gazette “Latvijas Vēstnesis”.
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