Lithuania continues to restrict travel from UK, Sweden and Portugal

The EURACTIV Network provides you with the latest news on how the country is dealing with the coronavirus health crisis. [Shutterstock]

**This article is continuously updated with the latest developments.

While travel from the UK, Sweden and Portugal remains restricted, travellers from Belgium are required to quarantine themselves for 14 days. There is still no government decision for those coming from third countries.

As of last Friday (12 June), all controls have been lifted on the Lithuanian–Polish border.

Since 1 June, Lithuania has been reviewing a ‘safe list’ of countries every week, in which it features countries from which it is allowing arrivals from EEA countries (plus Switzerland and the UK) where new COVID-19 infections have been lower than 15 per 100,000 persons in the last two weeks. 

Previously, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia agreed to lift restrictions on travel between the three Baltic states, meaning internal borders between these countries reopened on 15 May.

“We agreed that all the three Baltic countries managed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Moreover, we trust each other’s health care systems,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on 6 May.

Meanwhile, Lithuania is proceeding to ease quarantine restrictions according to its four-stage exit plan, which includes allowing small events and various other services to resume by the end of May. Outbound flights from Lithuania were permitted as of Monday (4 May), while all flights arriving in Lithuania still need to be approved by the government. 

As of 30 April, outdoor bars, cafes, restaurants, as well as most outdoor leisure activities, were allowed to resume. Vilnius is taking a step further and is attempting to transform the Lithuanian capital into an open-air cafe. Businesses have been given the opportunity to set up in the city’s public spaces that have previously been off-limits.

As of Monday (15 June), Lithuania reported 1,773 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 76 deaths and 1,429 recoveries. 

Partial lockdown

The country has been on partial lock-down since 13 March with other measures including the closure of schools, bans on large public gatherings and, from 16 March, the closure of shops, restaurants and pubs, except grocery stores and pharmacies, until at least 27 March.

In mid-March, authorities had started setting up mobile drive-in testing stations.

Meanwhile, the Lithuanian government also endorsed a €2.5 billion economic stimulus plan, which includes subsidies to preserve jobs, as well as tax delays.

Breaching self-isolation rules has been criminalised by the Lithuanian parliament,  Seimas, after it backed amendments on 28 April that render the offence punishable by up to a year in prison. Breaching self-isolation rules previously only carried an administrative penalty.

Borders reintroduced

As part of its nation-wide quarantine introduced on 13 March, the country had closed its internal EU borders with Poland and Latvia on 16 March to foreigners and have been preventing Lithuanian citizens from leaving the country.

As of 15 March, foreigners were banned from entering the country, with the exception of individuals with a residence permit, diplomatic workers and NATO troops. Foreign citizens are able to transit Lithuania on their way home until 00:01 on 16 March.

The Lithuanian government has also been coordinating the return of citizens with Estonia and Latvia. The three have established a working group to coordinate the return of its citizens after Poland has also closed its borders. Over 400 Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian cars have registered to cross Poland in an organised convoy on Monday, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said

Meanwhile, the government has pledged to employ its sole operating C-27J Spartan transport plane from the Lithuanian Air Force to bring some of the stranded 2,000 citizens home.

The government also mulls chartering commercial flights to Spain, Germany and France.

Lithuania says Belarus could be 'uncontrolled hotspot' of COVID-19

In today’s edition of the Capitals, find out more about Czech PM Andrej Babiš completely dismissing the CJEU’s decision on migration relocation, all Italian students being given a pass because of coronavirus, and so much more.

Neighbouring Belarus criticised

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, alongside foreign minister and the prime minister, has criticised Belarus’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the situation in the neighbouring country may be worse than the official data suggests.

Although Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said the country was happy about the “humanitarian corridor” offered to Lithuanians via Minsk on their way home, he said that the situation in the country was causing “concern”.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis also said on 1 April that the neighbouring country could be “an uncontrolled hotspot” of the disease.

Fearing the spread of the virus, Skvernelis said the country will prohibit people from crossing the border if there is no “adequate” response to the coronavirus crisis on the Belarusian side.

Belarusian Leader Alexander Lukashenko responded by telling the Lithuanian president to “take care of your own virus,” while the country’s foreign ministry called on Lithuania not to spread “speculations and rumours”.

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