2020.10.15 15:46

Vilnius under pressure to step up coronavirus restrictions

LRT.lt2020.10.15 15:46

With a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, public health officials have urged Vilnius authorities to tighten up measures against the spread of the disease. Shortening bar working hours and banning group workouts are among the proposals.

Lithuania's National Public Health Centre (NVSC) reported a daily increase of 255 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, including 111 in Vilnius County.

In particular, the infection is spreading among people in their 20s who frequent the capital city's bars and nightclubs, according to Rolanda Lingienė of the NVSC.

Read more: Covid-19 cases jump in Vilnius, infections linked to bars

“Infections keep growing in Vilnius, 1.5 times each week,” she said on Thursday.

She said that six cases of Covid-19 were part of an outbreak in a bar in central Vilnius, while another bar accounted for three more confirmed infections. Moreover, people diagnosed with the disease have visited 14 more bars in Vilnius.

NVSC experts held a meeting with representatives of Vilnius Municipality on Thursday to discuss possible measures to rein in the infection.

“We agreed that the city authorities would work closer with businesses, encouraging them to take infection controls seriously and take active steps so that their clients are safe and businesses can continue working,” Lingienė said in a statement after the meeting.

The proposals include temporary bans on group physical activities in indoor venues, such as gym classes, dancing and singing groups.

Moreover, the NVSC advised the city to limit opening hours of bars and nightclubs.

Povilas Poderskis, the director of administration at Vilnius Municipality, said after the meeting the city would talk with businesses about implementing safety measures, but would not resort to closing any economic sectors.

“We will step up our efforts with testing, communication, education,” he told reporters.

He insisted, moreover, that Vilnius was not doing badly compared to some other municipalities.

“The situation is not great, but it is not as bad as in many other municipalities that are also facing these problems,” Poderskis said.

Vilnius authorities agreed to step up testing in the city, he said, particularly sport instructors, customer-servicing workers and others who interact with many people in their daily work. “We plan to expand our testing capacity to 1,000 people a day,” Poderskis said.

The NVSC has also recommended encouraging people to work from home.

The city will present a more detailed plan of action next week, according to Poderskis.