This Week in Lithuania – November 27

PM and possible cabinet. Photo from  LRT/BNS

Coronavirus Update

On November 25 the Lithuanian government decided to extend the nationwide quarantine until midnight on December 17. “Even though we are seeing a slow down of new infections, we still have a difficult situation,” Lithuanian Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said. The second nationwide quarantine began in Lithuania on November 7 and was meant to last until November 29. Veryga said the initial idea had been to extend the quarantine for a month until the end of December. However, the government decided to prolong it until December 17, leaving it up to the next government to extend it again if need be.

Lithuania reported 2,339 new coronavirus cases as of November 27. Twenty-two patients died of Covid-19 over the previous day, according to Lithuania’s Statistics Department. The daily increase in coronavirus cases is the highest since the  the epidemic began. In all, 56,095 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the country since then. Of them, 41,897 are active cases, while 13,514 people have recovered. In all, 471 people in Lithuania have died of Covid-19 so far.

The health minister has suggested that shopping centres might be closed to avoid pre-Christmas crowding. Museums and galleries might be allowed to reopen earlier, though.

Self-quarantine can no longer be shortened to 10 days by taking a Covid-19 test. With a few exceptions, everyone who has been in close contact with an infected person will themselves need to stay in isolation for 14 days. When it comes to testing, Lithuania appears to be among the most rigorous countries in Europe, according to the ECDC. Restrictions are causing “covid-fatigue” in Lithuania, as in many other countries, with some staging protest rallies against the mandatory wearing of facemasks.

On December 10, museums and galleries will be allowed to reopen as long as existing quarantine rules are observed – keeping a two-metre distance between each visitor and limiting the flow of people to ensure 10 square metres per person. People will also be able to visit in groups no larger than two, more if from the same family. If the coronavirus situation in the country does not improve, however, the government may decide to cancel the reopening, according to Veryga.

New Prime Minister

Former finance minister Ingrida Šimonytė was approved by Seimas (parliament) as prime minister on November 24. She now has two weeks to get her proposed cabinet members approved by the president and presented for another vote.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said he will not confirm every ministers proposed by Ingrida Šimonytė, the country’s newly-appointed prime minister.

All candidates left an impression, the president said, but some of them have unclear visions and others have team formation problems. H noted that decisions on ministers might be made as early as next week.

Some, including the candidate for justice minister, Evelina Dobrovolska, has come under criticism from the paliamentary opposition and from the public.

MP’s Self-Isolating

Several members of Seimas, including Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen – were diagnosed with Covid-19 and more were sent home to self-quarantine. Because so many were absent from the vote that the ruling coalition failed to pass amendments in order to allow MPs to attend sittings and vote from home. The opposition Farmers and Greens Union party were those that mainly opposed the change.

With news from