Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Latvia continues to gradually ease COVID-19 restrictions as of July 7; movement and business disruptions remain.

  • Alert Begins: 07 Jul 2020 12:12 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 21 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Latvia continue to gradually ease restrictions introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of July 1, the limit on outdoor gatherings is increased to 1,000 people, and increased to 500 people for spaces over 1,000 square meters (10,700 square feet), though it remains limited to 100 people for indoor spaces smaller than this. Face coverings are no longer mandatory in enclosed public spaces, but are strongly recommended. Previous measures have allowed most businesses and facilities in Latvia to reopen provided hygiene and social distancing measures are implemented.

Following an EU recommendation, Latvian authorities are permitting entry to travelers from Algeria, Australia, China, Georgia, Japan, Canada, Morocco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. Authorities have previously passed measures allowing entry for travelers from EU, European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland for any reason. All arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days if they have traveled from a country in the last 14 days where the incidence of COVID-19 is greater than 16 cases per 100,000 people.; officials are maintaining and regularly updating a list of such countries. Travel from all other countries is prohibited, excluding for immediate family members of Latvian nationals, diplomats, individuals in transit, and freight workers. Restrictions remain in place at the border with Belarus and Russia.

Any restrictions could be reimposed, extended, further eased, or otherwise amended at short notice, depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures are similar to actions taken by other European governments easing COVID-19 restrictions. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they could prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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