Riga cancels events on 'car-free' street due to coronavirus fears

Riga's Terbatas iela, named after Tartu, will be car-free until mid-August
Riga's Terbatas iela, named after Tartu, will be car-free until mid-August Source: Renars Koris

Riga has canceled all events on its car-free street Tērbatas iela (Tartu Street) after visitors failed to comply with social distancing rules at the weekend, Latvian public broadcaster LSM reported on Monday.

The street in Riga, Latvia named after the Estonian city of Tartu (Terbatas iela) was 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.

The street opened last to pedestrians last week but events were canceled by Saturday. 

Jurijs Perevoscikovs, expert at the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (SPKC), said organizers of the Terbatas Street festival should have predicted the high interest and the risk of crowding. 

The State Police have also started administrative proceedings in order to assess the responsibility of the organizers. Latvian Police will find out who is responsible for the crowding and non-compliance with safety measures. 

Ilze Vinkele, the Minister of the Health, stated one of the errors was the wrong format of the event and inability to predict that some people in the pedestrian street would want to stay and listen to concerts while some would want to continue down the street. One of the solutions should have been to close a whole block, limiting the number of people at the event.  

Liga Keino, one of the street festival visitors and a Latvian citizen, said when she attended that concert, nobody was social distancing and every attempt to distance was seen by others as a free spot to stop. 


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Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein

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