News2020.05.26 12:13

Lithuania considers extending quarantine until end of June

BNS 2020.05.26 12:13

Lithuania's government may extend the coronavirus quarantine until the end of June, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has said.

“It has now been proposed to extend [the quarantine] until the end of June, but we will have to wait for the government’s decision,” Skvernelis told reporters on Tuesday.

Read more: Lithuanian government puts off decision on quarantine easing

Lithuania introduced the nationwide quarantine on March 16 and has renewed it several times. It is now set to expire on May 31 and the government will decide on extending the quarantine on Wednesday. However, many restrictions on public and economic life have been gradually lifted.

Keeping quarantine in place has less to do with medical measures than with the legal regime allowing government action, according to Skvernelis.

“[The legal regime] primarily has two aims – economic support, given that there are many measures used during and after the quarantine, and [...] preventing the disease's import,” Skvernelis said.

The Cabinet also plans to approve epidemiological criteria for when the quarantine can be lifted, he added.

The proposed criteria are:

– no increase in cumulative Covid-19 incidence rate per 100,000 population over the previous 14 days
– the share of positive Covid-19 tests under 0.5 percent
– fewer than five new cases per week brought from abroad
– at least 90 percent of new cases can be traced to existing local clusters

The government will also approve further easing of lockdown restrictions on Wednesday, Skvernelis said.

“Once we adopt the decision tomorrow, we will see that we are in fact going back to normal life, except for those restrictions related to individual hotspots or the spread of the disease,” he noted.

While the government has allowed most businesses and schools to reopen, there are still restrictions on mass public events and international travel.

Lithuania has opened its borders only to Estonian and Latvian citizens and residents – except for several exceptions– as well as to the residents and citizens of Poland coming for business, work or education.

Lithuania's residents and nationals returning from elsewhere are required to spend two weeks in self-isolation.

LRT has been certified according to the Journalism Trust Initiative Programme