True Lithuania

Lithuanian quarantine ended? Coronavirus stats

2020 06 20. Coronavirus quarantine has been ended by the government of Lithuania formally. On the ground, this was more of a symbolic decision though as little did change on a particular day. Nevertheless.

National quarantine, which was sometimes translated as a lockdown, has been introduced in Lithuania three months ago, in mid-March. At the time, despite Lithuania having merely 9 cases of coronavirus and the lowest coronavirus rates in the EU, the government applied tough measures by closing down most institutions and businesses, with only the food stores and pharmacies remaining in operation.

Afterward, every two weeks or so, the quarantine would be eased by adding more businesses that were allowed to be operated. For example, the restaurants were initially allowed to open only the outdoor zones, transforming Vilnius city Old Town streets into an outdoor restaurant zone. Then, they were permitted to do business inside with patronage limited and eventually were permitted to open completely.

By May, the situation in Lithuania already not that much lockdown as a set of restrictions, although the same name "Quarantine" still applied.

Coronavirus-wise, Lithuania did rather well, although comparable to other nearby countries. In general, coronavirus pandemic has so far been weaker in Central Europe than it was either in Western Europe or parts of Eastern Europe. As of 2020 06 20, Lithuania has 1792 coronavirus cases, which means 658 per million (89th worst situation among some 200 countries worldwide).

Lithuania coronavirus statistics (2020 06 20)

In the regional countries (the eastern part of the European Union), the situation is the following:
Estonia - 1492 cases / million
Czechia - 972 cases / million
Poland - 827 cases / million
Lithuania - 658 cases / million
Latvia - 588 cases / million
Hungary - 422 cases / million
Slovakia - 289 cases / million

The coronavirus clock from official state website for the crisis

The coronavirus clock from official state website for the crisis

The situation is about ten times worse in much of Western Europe (Spain - 6259, Sweden - 5550, UK - 4447, Italy - 3936, France - 2443, Germany - 2276) and parts of Eastern Europe (Russia - 3899, Belarus - 6067).

Lockdown and testing - what has helped?

Interestingly, neighboring countries have adopted contrarian policies to combat coronavirus with Latvia not adopting lockdown unlike Lithuania and yet ending up having fewer cases. The positive aspects of lockdown may thus have been overestimated, although it hit the Lithuanian economy hard. That may be the reason why lockdown has been quickly eased after its original introduction in mid-March.

What seemingly worked in Central Europe was its massive testing, with Lithuania conducting 5000 tests per day, that is, testing 0,2% of its entire population every day and already tested some 10% of its population by now. By tests per population, Lithuania holds 3rd place in the world among countries over 1 million inhabitants, yielding only to the United Arab Emirates and Denmark. It surpasses the USA nearly twice.

The ability to test their citizens on time may have significantly helped the Central European coronavirus fight. While in Western Europe, the disease came at the time the region was ill-prepared and there was a global shortage of tests (February 2020), by the time the disease came to Central Europe (March-April 2020) there was already more experience and more tests available.

Although the Quarantine now has formally ended, in reality, this is more of a regular stage of easing of restrictions, with some restrictions remaining in place (such as the limitation of participants in events, although the limit number has now reached 150 inside and 700 outside).

Some of the stringent measures are related to the entry of foreigners: non-EU foreigners are still not allowed to enter (unless they live in Lithuania), while some EU foreigners are not allowed either, although the criteria when a country is considered dangerous is rather lenient (25 cases per 100 000 inhabitants per 2 weeks), meaning that the only EU/EEE countries considered dangerous now are United Kingdom, Sweden, and Portugal. There is also a list of 45 countries worldwide Lithuanians returning from which are suggested to take a 14-day quarantine at home, although this is no longer mandatory.

Flights and travel bubbles

The flights to Lithuania are being reintroduced after being banned altogether for a while, although they are still subjected to controls. Initially, a Lithuania-Latvia-Estonia travel bubble was opened in early June as all three countries had rather similar success in battling coronavirus. Travel bubbles meant not only that Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians were permitted to freely travel to the other two countries but that they would also be able to do so without facing a 14-day quarantine on either arrival or on return.

By mid-June, such a travel bubble was essentially expanded to cover much of the European Union as the EU campaigned heavily to reopen its internal borders. Such demands are also controversial, however, as coronavirus pandemic situation varies so greatly within EU and while some countries, like Lithuania, are above the global average and report merely a few new cases every day, the situation is still significantly worse in parts of Western Europe. Some people in Lithuania fear that returning flights and European travelers could lead to a resurgence of the virus and - potentially - another costly lockdown. Yet others, however, have eagerly waited and the first flights to Milan, once the global epicenter of coronavirus after such epicenter moved out of China, departed with well over 100 of people on board.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

Click to learn more about Lithuania: News Leave a comment
Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.


Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.