2020.03.12 12:49

Vilnius announces sweeping coronavirus measures: closing schools, cinemas and gyms for 5 weeks

LRT.lt2020.03.12 12:49

Vilnius authorities have announced sweeping measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including shutdown of schools for five weeks and cancelling all public events. The city's museums, cinemas and gyms have been ordered to close, too.

The Lithuanian capital announced the measures ahead of the government's meeting to decide on nation-wide steps on Thursday. Lithuania has three confirmed cases of the coronavirus, one in Šiauliai and two in Kaunas.

Read more: 2 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Lithuania

“Even though there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Vilnius yet, we realise that it's a matter of time before that happens,” Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius said in a statement. “We cannot delay and must react to protect the people of Vilnius, especially the most vulnerable groups.”

The measures include:

- closing down kindergartens, schools and universities for five weeks, from March 13 until April 17.

- cancelling all indoor events of more than 100 people

- cancelling outdoor public events

- closing down museums, cinemas, gyms and similar public places

- shops are allowed to remain open, but are encouraged to disinfect and properly air the premises

The city said its public transport will remain operational, with additional measures to clean and air the vehicles.

The city administration itself will only interact with people via email and phone, it said.

“We realise that closing down educational institutions will inconvenience parents, but we must think about protecting human lives,” said Povilas Poderskis, the head of the city's Extreme Situations Commission.

“We invite businesses to hold out against the virus in solidarity – yes, the measures are harsh, but they are not crippling to the economy. On the contrary, if we don't stop the virus now, it will have great negative effects on the economy in the future,” he added.

Read more: Minister proposes closing schools in Lithuania for two weeks