A street in Riga named after Tartu (Terbatas iela) has been made car-free for one month to allow for a culture program and street vendors, similar to Tartu's 'Car-free Avenue' on a section of Vabaduse puiestee.
Sandra Liepina, head of the division of international coordination at the Foreign Affairs Office of Riga City Council, said: "The parallel ideas of car-free streets in Tartu and Riga is by no accident. They are a symbol of the friendship between the cities. This idea also connects us historically because the street was named Terbatas after the many reputable Latvians who studied at the University of Tartu."
Terbatas iela is closed for car traffic until August 16 and is now open only to cyclists and pedestrians. Street vendors can trade local produce and on weekends, a cultural program (link in Latvian) will bring many events to the street.
The goal of the project is to reinvigorate the local economy which was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and to create a safe and open space for city residents and guests.
A 'Car-free Avenue' public space was opened in Tartu on July 3 and traffic will be rerouted around the city until August 2.
Latvia saw four new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed on Saturday. Minister for Health Ilze Vinkele called on members of the public enjoy themselves in a responsible manner, Latvian public broadcaster LSM reported.
Vinkele posted on social media: "It is nice that Terbatas Street has been given over to pedestrians. But. Dear Rigans and guests - it is not safe to listen to concerts in crowds," she said, adding that careful thought was required to make sure such events do not become points of COVID-19 contagion.
Ir jauki, ka Tērbatas iela nu ir atvēlēta gājējiem. Bet. Mīļie rīdzinieki un viesi - pūļos klausīties koncertus nav droši. Domājam līdzi gan skatītāji, gan rīkotāji, lai ballīte nesanāk īsa un ar Covid piesitienu.— Ilze Viņķele (@Vinkele) July 17, 2020
That advice was followed up Saturday morning by an announcement from Interior Minister Sandis Girgens that Saturday evening's concerts would be cancelled and more police would be on hand to monitor physical distancing.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste