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2021.04.07 16:25

Lithuania puts off reopening shopping centres amid rising infections

BNS2021.04.07 16:25

Lithuania's government decided not to allow reopening shopping centres just yet due to rising coronavirus infections.

Last week, the government said it was considering allowing all shops to reopen as of April 12.

Read more: Lithuania's shopping malls look to reopen in mid-April

However, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said on Wednesday it would not be justifiable amid rising infections.

“There was a discussion that we could consider some additional steps [to ease quarantine restrictions] this week if the situation doesn't deteriorate seriously,” Šimonytė told her cabinet.

“However, [...] today we have a number of [new coronavirus] cases we haven't seen in a long while and half of Lithuania is in an exponential growth phase,” she said.

All retailers with direct street access were allowed to reopen in mid-March as part of the government's lockdown easing steps, but most non-food shops located in shopping centres remain closed.

Šimonytė said in early March that the government might allow shopping centres and other businesses to reopen “in a matter of weeks”, but the plans were dropped due to the worsening epidemiological situation.

On Wednesday, Lithuania reported 1,116 new Covid-19 cases, its highest daily count since January 26, and ten deaths.

‘Shocked’

Lithuanian retailers say shopping centres have nothing to do with rising infections.

“We are somewhat shocked,” Rūta Vainienė, the director of the Lithuanian Association of Retail Companies, said during the cabinet's meeting on Wednesday.

“We understand that [coronavirus infection] cases are rising. However, we don't understand what shops that remain closed have to do with that,” she said.

Few coronavirus clusters have emerged in shops, Vainienė said, adding that shopping centres are taking extra safety precautions on their own.