2020.06.11 15:00

Resuming travel to Belarus and Russia ‘very risky’, Lithuanian minister says

BNS2020.06.11 15:00

Belarus and Russia are “playing a very risky game” with their coronavirus containment strategy and it would be dangerous for Lithuania to reopen borders with these countries, according to the health minister.

“It would be very risky to open (the border) with Belarus as well as with Russia or a few other countries that I think are playing a very risky game,” Minister Aurelijus Veryga told the radio Žinių Radijas on Thursday.

Letting a large part of their populations get infected with the novel coronavirus and develop mass immunity is a strategy that is risky and unjustifiable, according to him.

“Perhaps it will be easier [to manage border reopening] with Belarus, because the European Union wants to develop a common strategy for third countries as far as opening borders and resuming travel go, which would be very good,” he said.

In Veryga's view, the focus should be on resuming travel and opening borders within the Schengen area, as its members have introduced similar coronavirus containment measures.

Russia has so far confirmed over 493,000 coronavirus cases, the third-highest number globally after the US and Brazil.

Belarus has confirmed over 51,000 Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Unlike most other countries, Belarus did not impose strict restrictions on public and economic life in the country so as to stop the coronavirus spread. Notoriously, Belarus held a Victory Day military parade last month.

Read more: Mass turnout at parade in Minsk despite coronavirus fears

President Alexander Lukashenko has downplayed the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, describing it as a “psychosis”.

Read more: Tractors and fields will 'heal everybody', says Belarusian leader