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2020.04.08 13:13

Lithuanians stranded abroad urged to stay put

BNS2020.04.08 13:13

Some 180 Lithuanian nationals are stranded abroad and unable to return home, Giedrius Surplys, a government spokesman, said on Wednesday, urging them to return only after the quarantine is lifted.

“A total of 6,275 Lithuanian citizens wishing to return to Lithuania have contacted the country’s diplomatic missions and 6,095 have already returned, either with the help of the state or on their own," he told reporters.

Read more: Last passenger flight arrives in Vilnius as Lithuania closes airspace

“Lithuania’s embassies are now staying in contact with 180 nationals; some of them are stranded in nearer countries and others – in more faraway countries. Hence the number is no longer that significant or drastic,” Surplys said.

However, Surplys called on the Lithuanians living abroad to stay at their current place of residence, even after losing their jobs.

“Once the [quarantine] ends, you will be able to return and meet your relatives. It's imost important now to [...] contain the virus and prevent a new wave of imported cases here in Lithuania,” he said.

An aircraft carrying 219 passengers from London landed in Vilnius on Wednesday night. A similar flight from London should arrive on Saturday. The airspace for regular passenger flights is now closed.

“The Foreign Ministry has not allowed boarding to anyone who hasn’t promised to follow stringent self-isolation requirements upon return to Lithuania. All passengers were checked upon return, had their samples taken and released to self-isolate,” Surplys said.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis previously criticised Lithuanians returning from abroad who do not adhere to the quarantine.

Read more: Prime Minister slams returning Lithuanians – ‘these individuals cause us danger’

“You have probably seen scenes on social media, who and what types are returning to Lithuania,” the minister told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m sorry, but they cannot be called people.”

Videos circulating among Lithuanian social media users showed some of the returnees mocking the imposed quarantine and saying they will not follow the self-isolation rules. These several posts went viral across Lithuania and were picked up by the local media.