Latvian PM allows for more restrictions for non-vaccinated residents

Without a doubt the government has made different mistakes in efforts to resolve the Covid-19 crisis, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to TV3 programme 900 seconds.
Kariņš said if Covid-19 infection rates increase again and the situation deteriorates further, the government may consider using Austria’s approach.
«Austria’s variant is possible. We will look at how the situation develops. In Austria non-vaccinated residents are permitted to leave their homes only once a day, which is much stricter than what we had during curfew,» said Kariņš.
«We may consider it, but we have yet to hear experts’ opinions on this matter.»
«This autumn and winter we can see there will be different events, and it is the non-vaccinated residents who are at risk of infection and hospitalisation the most,» said the PM.
As for the aforementioned mistakes, Kariņš stressed the government consists of elected politicians and is a reflection of the public. He stressed that residents have also shown negligence when it comes to the crisis – some people denied the pandemic and claimed no restrictions are needed. This is why the government had to balance between restrictive measures and public interests this whole time.
«This is a very large challenge. I would be lying if I said we haven’t made any mistakes, but what I can say without a shadow of a doubt is that all this time we have been making decisions that seemed best at the time,» said the head of the government.
He stressed again the main way to battle the pandemic is vaccination. «There are two ways of battling the virus. One of them is the method employed by China – if a single infection case is found, the entire society around that case is closed off. Other countries use a specific level of infection as an indicator, but they also try to protect people using vaccination, protective masks, social distancing and crowd restrictions,» said the PM, adding that Latvia’s government will stick to this strategy.
«Unfortunately, it is a proven fact that when you make vaccination a duty, people get vaccinated.»
«Other countries, like Denmark, for example, offer people voluntary vaccination. Residents line up for a jab, especially pensioners. In Latvia, however, we can see about half of residents were prepared to vaccination, but for the other half we had to make vaccination compulsory. And it worked,» said the politician.
Kariņš agrees that it is not possible to control compliance with Covid-19 restrictions everywhere. He believes this is particularly true for public transports. Authorities report that people do not always properly wear protective masks. He also stresses that too often social media contributes to the situation in a negative way.
«We have to keep in mind that it is not possible to formulate a policy based on social media. If I see a single incident and write about it, people get the impression this is the situation everywhere. I have noticed the situation is never uneven,» says the politician, stressing that residents should wear masks not because they should follow the law, but because doing so keeps them and the people around them safe.
When asked about any plans to commence child vaccination in Latvia, the PM said Latvian healthcare institutions follow recommendations from European Medicines Agency. He said if the decision is made in favour of child vaccination, Latvia has enough vaccine doses to afford it.