2020.03.14 18:47

Lithuania calls nationwide quarantine: shutting non-essential shops and closing border to foreigners

LRT.lt2020.03.14 18:47

The Lithuanian government has announced a two-week nationwide quarantine, to come into effect on Monday, to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The measures include closing borders to foreign nationals and shops except pharmacies and groceries.

After five new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed over the last 24 hours, the Lithuanian government convened for an extraordinary meeting on Saturday to decide on the coronavirus action plan.

Read more: New coronavirus case confirmed in Klaipėda, another one in Vilnius

Lithuania reintroduced control of its borders with Poland and Latvia on Saturday. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said that foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter the country by any means of transport, unless they work and permanently live in Lithuania. Exceptions will apply to diplomatic staff and NATO personnel.

Read more: Movement of people under quarantine: what you need to know

Lithuanian citizens currently abroad have been advised to return immediately.

As Poland has closed its borders, Skvernelis said Lithuania was close to agreeing on a 72-hour “humanitarian corridor” to allow transit to Lithuanians.

Restrictions will also apply to Lithuanian nationals going abroad. Movement of cargo, however, will be allowed.

Quarantine measures also include banning all public events, closing bars, restaurants and shops, excluding groceries and pharmacies. Client-servicing businesses, like hairdressers and beauty salons, will also need to close.

“If the government's resolution is adopted and no more discussions arise, the operation of all cafes, bars, catering establishments will be banned, excluding the possibility to provide take-away food services,” the prime minister told journalists. “The operation of shops, excluding food shops, pharmacies and other, perhaps providing some other household services, will be banned. The possibility will remain for food shops, pharmacies to operate.”

Business companies are encouraged to allow their employees to work from home where possible.

Skvernelis said that the government would offer a stimulus package “of at least one billion euros” to reassure businesses affected by the anti-epidemic measures.

Last Thursday, the government has already ordered schools, kindergartens and universities to close for two weeks and banned all indoor events and outdoor events of more than 100 people.

Theatres, museums, cinemas, gyms and similar establishments have also been ordered to close.

So far, Lithuania has confirmed eight coronavirus cases, all contracted abroad.

BNS overviews 15 restrictions:

1. Foreigners are banned to arrive in the country, excluding persons ensuring necessary deliveries of goods to Lithuania, crew members, family members of Lithuanian citizens, and persons who have the right to live and work in Lithuania, diplomats, representatives of NATO military missions. A temporary humanitarian corridor will be left for Latvian and Estonian citizens to reach their countries.

2. The number of border checkpoints to enter Lithuania is reduced.

3. Lithuanian citizens are banned to leave for coronavirus-affected countries by all means of transport: China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Iceland, Spain, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Egypt. Also, any non-work-related trips abroad might also be banned.

4. The operation of shops, excluding non-food shops, pharmacies, specialized veterinary pharmacies, and food-selling marketplaces, is banned.

5. The operation of cafes and bars is banned, except take-away food services.

6. All public indoor and outdoor events are banned.

7. Cruise ships are banned from entering the port of Klaipėda.

8. Public administration will not provide non-essential services.

9. Visiting patients at medical treatments establishments is banned, alongside visiting prisoners at incarceration facilities.

10. SPA, rehabilitation services are banned if they are not related to treatment. The operation of hair and beauty salons is banned.

11. The number of passengers on intercity buses and trains is restricted to maintain the necessary distances between passengers. The recommendation is also to apply the requirement to intra-city transport.

12. Hotels, if necessary, will have to allow people to stay during quarantine, and the state will pay the bill.

13. Educational establishments remain closed.

14. Planned medical procedures are postponed, except necessary medical assistance. Rehabilitation and dental services are cancelled, alongside planned vaccination.

15. Workers of both the public and private sectors are recommended to work from home.

Failure to comply with these instructions will lead to administrative and criminal liability.

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