Troops to enforce Latvia’s virus curfew

Latvia on Wednesday imposed a nationwide night-time curfew in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus, with police and troops to patrol the streets to enforce the ban.

“The curfew and other rules imposed by the government this week are absolutely necessary,” Latvian President Egils Levits said on public radio. 

The Baltic state’s government announced that residents will be required to stay at home from 22:00 pm to 05:00 am every night from Wednesday until January 10.

Stores and other businesses will have to close an hour earlier to allow workers enough time to return home. Only petrol stations and emergency services will be allowed to operate during curfew hours.

Public transport will still be running as usual, but travellers must carry an ID and a printed out form detailing their reason for leaving the house — such as having to return from work. 

Police, border guards, the national guard and troops will enforce the curfew, working in rotating shifts with at least 2,000 people deployed every night. 

During the daytime however there will not be a full lockdown, with workplaces and public institutions remaining open. 

To prevent residents from gathering outdoors, the government also banned fireworks starting Wednesday. 

The cabinet also extended previous anti-virus measures until February 7, including remote learning in schools and universities, working from home where possible and social distancing guidelines. 

The EU member of 1.9 million people has been hit hard by the second wave of the coronavirus, with hospitals operating at near maximum capacity. 

Latvia said Wednesday it had registered a new daily record of 1,367 confirmed infections, bringing the total to more than 39,000. Since the epidemic struck, 626 people have died from Covid.