There are no events until March
In the past week, several Lithuanian municipalities successively announced that they would ban indoor events. The first was the District Municipality of Mažeikiai.
She announced last Thursday that accelerated preventive measures would be taken from January 24 given the rapid increase in the number of people with COVID-19 in the region. until March 1st. all cultural events in closed rooms are prohibited in the district.
On Friday, three municipalities – Klaipėda, Šilutė and Akmenė districts – successively announced banned indoor events.
“Until March 1st. The budgetary institutions of the Klaipėda District Municipality are prohibited from organizing indoor events. The exception is high-quality sports competitions, which can be held indoors, but without spectators.
The installation of artistic or other installations, ordinary rehearsals, trainings, cinema activities (film screening) are not considered events,” reads Klaipėda district Facebook.
In the Šilutė district, the ban period is much shorter: “We would like to inform you that from February 21 to February 6. All events planned indoors on the territory of the Šilutė District Municipality and for which the municipal administration and municipal budgetary institutions are responsible for organizing, with the exception of high-performance sports activities without spectators and formal and non-formal education, are canceled or postponed. “
Learning is distance again
Akmenė County Emergency Response Center made a decision on January 21, taking into account the rapidly growing number of patients with COVID-19 in the county. until February 28th. In this district it is forbidden to hold all cultural and sports events indoors, to conduct sports training for adults in gyms in educational institutions, high-quality sports events can only be organized without spectators.
Learning in this area is also at a distance again: “January 24-31. 5-12 p.m. remotely carry out the educational process in Akmenė district educational institutions according to the educational plan. 5-12pm Distribution of rapid antigen tests to students for testing on January 30th or 31st. before returning to make contact. After returning to contact classes, students will be tested every other day. Space out rapid antigen tests over the weekend.
Until the incidence of COVID-19 decreases in Akmenė County Municipality, elementary school students should be tested every other day. Hand out rapid antigen tests for the weekend.
24-31 January non-formal and informal learning at a distance and if not available.”
Expect slower spread
A decision was made on Monday at the meeting of the Emergency Response Center of the District Municipality of Varėna on February 1st. until March 1st. Restrict events that take place indoors in community facilities.
“Other institutions and companies in our region are also invited to contribute to this initiative by restricting mass gatherings. The new strain of COVID-19 is expected to spread more slowly in the district as events are restricted, thus protecting residents of Varėna district,” the municipality report said.
Other municipalities are refraining from making similar decisions, at least for the time being, although in some of them the number of infections is significantly higher than in the municipalities listed above that have banned the events.
Vilnius is considering the consequences
The big cities don’t want to set an example in this area yet – none of them have announced such restrictions yet. The Municipality of Kaunas did not discuss the ban on events, and the events of Kaunas 2022 – European Capital of Culture started here over the weekend.
The Municipality of Klaipeda also discussed the possibility of banning the events on Friday. However, he did not dare to take a decision to ban the events because he did not feel legally entitled to do so. The community only recommends avoiding such events.
The Vilnius City Council is not yet planning such drastic measures.
Without official quarantine, there is no way to compensate the cultural industry for the damage caused by the ban on events.
“We are following the pandemic situation as well as the recommendations of the Ministry of Health (SAM). Of course, although the quarantine has not been announced in the country, it would not be difficult to cancel and ban cultural events, but we must also think about the psychological consequences for the people and the financial sector for the cultural sector.
Without official quarantine, there is no way to compensate the cultural industry for the damage caused by the ban on events. And more importantly, people are tired and don’t have to reckon that if they ban the events, they won’t seek other entertainment or gather in private spaces,” said Lina Korizniė, director of the Vilnius City Hall.
In her opinion, outdoor events must survive because “they pose the least threat of a pandemic and allow people to live at a normal pace”.
“The pandemic numbers are high, but fortunately the hospital employment and death curves are not growing as fast as the number of new infections, so there is no basis for the introduction of a quarantine, even selectively. However, we will follow the official recommendations of the Ministry of Health,” said L. Koriznienė.
There will also be no remote control
Transition to full distance education is not considered in Vilnius in the near future. According to Alina Kovalevskaya, the chief adviser of the city administration, “at this difficult time it is important to maintain a balance between ensuring the educational process, safety and maintaining the mental state of children”.
“We find that schools have the tool in place to apply an infection-limiting regimen in individual classes or streams and to use distance learning only in individual classes.
Of course, educational institutions communicate with the school community, monitor the situation within the educational institution and make decisions that are most appropriate for each institution and situation,” said A. Kovalevskaja.
According to Monday’s data, the Vilnius city educational institutions (general and pre-school) had 211 employees in self-isolation and 453 employees in COVID-19; 2,554 children/students in self-isolation and 2,451 children/students with COVID-19.
SAM prohibits nothing
SAM has yet to issue stricter recommendations for indoor events.
“No changes are planned yet, the minimum conditions set for the events apply in this decision of the chief of operations‘ SAM explained, referring to the decision.
However, as of a week from January 17, all spectators and participants over the age of 6, as well as event attendants, must wear at least one FFP2 respirator indoors throughout the event to contain the spread of the ultra-fast-moving strain of coronavirus. , fitting close to the face and completely covering the nose and mouth.
Health Minister Arūnas Dulkys said that the general procedure, advice and requirements have been established, but that each municipality has the opportunity to make decisions with better knowledge of their situation.
He praised the county councils’ decisions to ban indoor events for a while: “And I think they are doing the right thing, because everyone feels the capacity of all organizations, the health system, the situation is very dynamic, changing, that’s a response very welcome.”