Latvia imposes curfew over New Year's period

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Skyline of Latvia's capital, Riga. Source: ERR

Latvia's government is imposing a nighttime curfew over the New Year period, amid coronavirus fears.

That country's prime minister, Krišjānis Kariņš, says the decision, which was made on Tuesday, is aimed at curbing gatherings of people, public broadcaster LSM's English-language portal reports.

A decision was taken at the same cabinet meeting to prolong the state of emergency declared in response to the pandemic, which is still running.

The curfew runs from 10 p.m. until 5. a.m. the next morning, starting Wednesday, December 30, and lasting to the end of the week, i.e. Sunday, January 3, rendering midnight gatherings to mark the arrival of 2021 out of the question.

Between the curfew hours, the public is forbidden to leave their place of residence, LSM says.

A second curfew period will be in place between January 8 and January 10, to coincide with Russian Orthodox Christmas, LSM reports.

The state of emergency has been prolonged to February 7, whereas it had originally been scheduled to expire on January 11.

The curfew means only those needing to travel to and from work can leave their place of residence, with retail hours running 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. to allow staff time to arrive home before the deadline.

Penalties for non-compliance have not been specified, LSM says, though Latvia's police say that the new regime falls under the scope of the current state of emergency regulations and will be enforced accordingly.

LSM reports that the last time a peacetime curfew was installed in Latvia was in May 1934, following a coup by former prime minister Karlis Ulmanis, who effectively became dictator of the country through to the first Soviet occupation of 1940.

Latvian health authorities posted over 800 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, Tuesday, and the country's 14-day coronavirus rate per 100,000 inhabitants stood at a little over 500 last Friday, compared with nearly 1,380 on the same day in Lithuania, currently one of the hardest-hit states globally, and a little over 570 for Estonia, as of Tuesday.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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