2020.03.18 16:30

Lithuania will restrict domestic movement if coronavirus gets out of hand – health minister

Gytis Pankūnas, 2020.03.18 16:30

If the spread of Covid-19 gets out of hand in Lithuania, the police are ready to restrict people's movement within the country in order to isolate most affected areas, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said on Wednesday.

Lithuania closed its borders to foreigners on Monday and called a nationwide coronavirus quarantine, although people are not forbidden to leave home or travel inside the country.

Read more: Lithuania under quarantine: key instructions and recommendations

“If we see an unmanageable rise [of coronavirus cases] in some city or area, we might have to stop movement from there the way they did in northern Italy,” Veryga, who heads the government's coronavirus response effort, told reporters. “Officers are preparing for this kind of action and, if need be, they will use it. But there's no reason for that today.”

He added that the public generally observes quarantine and self-isolation rules, eve though there have been reports about people breaking them.

While most shops are closed in the country, supermarkets and pharmacies continue to serve shoppers. Veryga said he expected them to instruct people to keep distances in queues.

Asked whether the government would do anything to ensure the protection of supermarket cachiers, Veryga said it was their employers' duty.

“It is up to the employer to provide disinfectants and other protective measures,” he said, adding that supermarkets could make their own face masks for employees if they are unavailable on the market.

Read more: Lithuanians greet quarantine with Eurovision song and applause