Academic experts group declare cessation of activities and termination of cooperation with Latvian government

The academic environment group has decided to cease operations for an indefinite period of time. The reason given is that the group’s cooperation model with the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers has not justified the efforts and resources put into it, according to the group’s public announcement.
«For this cooperation to bear fruits, the group’s work needs to be based on requests from the government for academic examinations. So far, however, there has been a lack of such requests,» the announcement mentions.
The academic environment experts group was formed following the request from the Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre and the order issued by the prime minister’s office in March 2021.
The group operated on a principle of voluntary participation. The goal was providing assistance to the government during the decision-making process related to Covid-19 measures.
The academic group’s activities took the shape of evaluation of government scenarios prepared by the Inter-institutional Coordination group, including the evaluation of the scenario for the influence of SARS-CoV-2 virus spread on public behaviour and possible consequences for residents and the national economy.
The group’s tasks did not include development of new solutions.
According to members of the expert group, the existing cooperation model was never used to its full potential. As the group stated multiple times in the past, for it to function optimally, it would need to work with government-defined topics and dilemmas stemming from practical tasks by providing reports on scientific justifications or socio-economic influence.
«Unfortunately, so far the expert group’s activities have remained on a level at which the group no longer assists the government with making informed decisions, rather the experts’ opinions gradually become a part of the political process,» the announcement explains.
Read also: Latest Covid-19 cases in Baltics. 1 002 in Latvia, 1 238 in Lithuania, 727 in Estonia
Considering the aforementioned, the expert group believes it makes sense to put the group’s activities on an indefinite hold.
At the same time, the expert group does not exclude the possibility of continuing cooperation by providing evaluation of topics important to the government, if such issues appear.
The announcement reminds that as early as July 2021 the expert group had warned the government of the possible return of rapid infection rates with SARS-CoV-2 in autumn 2021. «Unfortunately, what we see now is this scenario becoming a reality,» experts add.
On 1 October the expert group released a public announcement, reporting alarming development of this situation and its potential development if no measures are taken. The expert group also voiced a proposal to prepare tighter restrictions to halt the spread of the virus and have the government approve the plan as soon as possible.
A meeting of the Crisis Management Council was called on 5th and 7th October. During this meeting members of the council were informed of the council’s plan for the state of emergency, which included a number of tight restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The expert group approved this scenario with certain objections. The government, however, decided on lighter restrictions than originally intended. At the same time, restrictions will be the toughest for residents who are not vaccinated for Covid-19.