Lithuania extends quarantine until April 13, sets up crisis coordination committee

  • 2020-03-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - The Lithuanian government decided on Wednesday to extend the nationwide quarantine at least until April 13 as the novel coronavirus continues to spread in the country.  

It will also set up a crisis coordination committee headed by Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

"The quarantine has been extended until April 13, 12 a.m.," Government Chancellor Algirdas Stoncaitis confirmed to BNS.

According to Skvernelis, the quarantine must remain in place because the coronavirus outbreak has not yet reached its peak in Lithuania.   

"Another two weeks is the minimum period. Whether or not we have to extend it further will depend on all of us," the prime minister said. "If we act irresponsibly, we will have a situation like that in Italy or Spain".

The Cabinet on Wednesday also supplemented the crisis management system. 

"A special government committee involving the key ministers will start functioning," Skvernelis said. "Its function will be to coordinate the whole coronavirus management situation, including bringing in medical experts, and (dealing with) logistics, financing, cybersecurity and other issues".

Stoncaitis and Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas were appointed as deputy heads of the committee which will also include nine other ministers "directly involved in day-to-day crisis management".

Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga continues to head the State Emergency Operations Center. 

The nationwide quarantine was originally imposed on March 18 for two weeks through March 30.  

Restrictions on entering and leaving the country and a ban on gatherings are in place under the quarantine.

Non-essential shops and services have been shut down. Educational establishments have been closed, and people are recommended to work from home if possible. 

The Cabinet on Wednesday also asked people not to visit parks and other open public spaces in groups of more than two, except for members of the same family, to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines, to avoid physical contact, and to send one person to shop for a family.

It also added the recommendation for people to wear protective face masks or respirators, or otherwise cover their nose and mouth in public spaces. 

After the period given for foreigners to transit Lithuania ends on Thursday, it is planned to form convoys to cross the country, if necessary.