Tuesday. 21.05.2024

Latvia was going into a month-long lockdown on Thursday as the Baltic state battles a new wave of infections.

Public life will be severely scaled back through November 15 in order to break the chains of transmission and reduce the "terrible overload" on the health care system, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening.

Only stores selling daily essentials will be allowed to open. Leisure, cultural, entertainment and sports venues must remain closed. Restaurants must switch to offering only take away and delivery services.

Events and gatherings are prohibited, and a night-time curfew will be in effect. People may only leave their homes from 8 pm to 5 am with a valid reason.

Most employees are required to work from home, and schools are switching back to distance learning.

According to the health authority in Riga on Wednesday, 1,400.8 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants have been registered in the past 14 days - an all-time high.

Intensive care units full

Across the country, intensive care beds for treating critically ill Covid-19 patients are already fully occupied in several hospitals, Health Minister Daniels Pavluts said.

Only slightly more than half of the 1.9 million population is fully vaccinated. The government has been trying for months, with only moderate success, to increase uptake.

Some physicians and epidemiologists have expressed scepticism about the lockdown, saying it comes too late and is only a short-term response to the high infection rates.

Latvia goes into month-long lockdown as Covid-19 cases spike