Liepāja is one of the leading cities in Latvia to contain the spread of the Covid-19

To contain the spread of Covid-19 virus in Latvia, the government previously decided to declare a state of emergency in the country from March 13 to April 14, during which a number of restrictions and prohibitions were imposed. On April 7, the government decided that the state of emergency in Latvia has to be extended until May 12.

The city of Liepāja has taken a number of important steps from the first day to limit the spread of the virus. The Crisis Management Group was set up in the city, the Civil Protection Commission was also summoned shortly after the Prime Minister’s report on the state of emergency.

A number of council decisions were taken. In order to limit the distribution of Covid-19, all Liepāja municipal authorities and the customer services shall be provided remotely.
The period for payment of the real estate tax of 31 March 2020 shall be transferred to 30 April. Liepāja City Council allocated an additional €200,000 to carry out epidemiological security measures. Public outdoor gym areas and skate parks closed from March 27. As of March 20, publicly available children's playgrounds are closed in Liepāja as well.

The temporarily special social benefit for the purchase of food has been introduced for local residents who have faced the temporarily unemployment crisis and left without means to purchase food due to the conditions caused by the emergency situation.

All primary and secondary educational institutions, including higher and vocational education institutions, shall be closed until the end of the emergency situation, and all education in Latvia shall be provided on the remote model. The state has provided school-students, who don’t have computers at home with free computers and Internet access to ensure they are able to learn remotely.

School-students from socially vulnerable groups will be able to receive a special card for purchasing food worth €25 instead of free lunch that was usually provided for them at schools. There are only few groups open in kindergartens and nanny services to provide childcare for parents who do not have alternative care facilities when needed. In order to attend a pre-school education institution, parents must submit a written statement once a week that the child and family have not been abroad, have not been in contact with Covid-19 patient or any of their contact persons. As of March 19, the work of the local government's pre-primary education institutions is being changed, with only four kindergarten groups open in the city.

Liepāja Regional Hospital has been put under quarantine for the safety measures. Patient attendance is prohibited.

Gyms and shopping malls are also closed on weekends. Drugstores, grocery stores, veterinary stores, optics, and construction shops will continue to work during weekends. To contain the spread of Covid-19, all shop owners are required to provide additional safeguards in stores. Regardless of the number of visitors, all public festival, memorial, entertainment, culture, religious, sports, recreational events (including nightclubs and disco), meetings, demonstrations and gatherings have been cancelled and banned.

In all public places, indoor, outdoor and shared spaces, a two-metre distance must be observed, as well as other physical separation and epidemiological security measures are identified. Penalties have been imposed for breaching the limits imposed by the state of emergency. People are obliged to follow two-meter distance apart!

From March 17 at 00.00 All international passenger traffic through airport, port, railway and also road is suspended in Latvia. Only permanent residents of Latvia will be allowed to enter Latvia, foreigners will be allowed to leave. Latvia will continue to provide international cargo transport. As from 16 March, domestic bus services will be provided according to the school holiday schedule. The number of bus and coach trips may be reduced or increased gradually according to the number of passengers.

Website covid19.gov.lv has been established with all the relevant information about the National decisions regarding the state of emergency. The site summarizes information from the home pages of the responsible authorities, statistical data, as well as frequently asked questions and answers.

The single day-to-day telephone 8345 for clarifying Covid-19 related issues in both Latvian and Russian languages is established as well.The municipality of Liepāja also works proactively in gathering useful information in order to make it easier for the residents of the city during an emergency, in keeping distance and follow the self-isolation rules when needed. There are suggestions on where and how you can order food, daily items and other things for your home on the Internet, or sites where you can follow the online sporting activities.

The municipality also collect and provides information on where you can turn for help to regain mental wellbeing and confidence during your prolonged home stay in isolation or difficulties coping with online learning. The city has called out for owners of residential property with a request to offer their property as temporarily places for self-isolation or quarantine if needed. The municipality has also own property to offer for quarantine of personnel which come in direct contact with the Covid-19 infected.

Liepāja restaurants and cafes offer an opportunity to order food for co-production or delivery, their list is quite extensive and the municipality helps to spread this information further, as well as promotes ways of reading e-books online as a good solution for leisure. There are a number of information materials that we call for to be used in both, printed and electronic ways to inform our relatives, friends, neighbours and business customers about Covid-19.

As of April 9, Latvia has 577 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 39 people are in the hospital, 3 of them remain in the intensive care. Three dead. Liepāja has 18 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

More information about the National state of emergency here:

Text provided by:
Nataļja Vecvagare
International Policy Adviser to the Mayor
Liepāja City council
Natalja.vecvagare@liepaja.lv

Photo credit: Liepāja municipality