President and PM say preparations being made for COVID-19 second wave

Latvian state President Egils Levits and Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš had their regular weekly meeting at Rīga Castle August 26, using the occasion to inform the public about preparations for a likely second wave of the coronavirus.

Speaking after their meeting, Levits said: “Our main task is to ensure that our situation should remain as good as possible,” and that the relative success Latvia has enjoyed in containing the disease compared to many other countries should continue into the future.

“I must also say this. It is important that at the same time as we want to contain COVID, we also have to continue with life despite this infectious disease, but our economy and also our foreign policy must continue, even in these circumstances.”

This would require “rational decisions from the government’s side and discipline from everyone,” Levits said.

On the question of Belarus, Levits said Latvia, alongside Lithuania, Estonia and Poland had helped inform and formulate the European Union’s line response to the crisis in Minsk.

“The direction of this line is known — we are for sanctions, but not against the people of Belarus, not against the economy of Belarus, but against the officials responsible for rigging the election and the subsequent repressions,” he said. Sanctions lists were being prepared at national level, he added, which would form the basis of EU-level sanctions.

Following up those comments, PM Kariņš said a second wave of COVID-19 was no longer a theory but a reality and it was necessary to work out how to live with an increased number of cases “without shutting down our economy. It’s very important for us to understand how to do this.”

While there is still no state of emergency in the country, the Health Ministry is developing various contingency plans based on various different scenarios, Kariņš said, intended to give “maximum protection” to society without shutting down the economy or sealing the state borders. This would include special measures with regard to Lithuania if the infection rates in Latvia’s southern neighbor and major trading partner continue to rise.

“I’m certain that we will find good solutions,” he stated.

On Belarus he said: “We as a government stand with the Belarusian people” by providing financial assistance to Belarusian NGOs worth around 150,000 euros and would continue to push for adoption of EU-level sanctions even while national-level sanctions have already been agreed upon.

Source: https://eng.lsm.lv/