In May 2020, as other countries closed their borders to prevent the virus from spreading, the Baltic countries lifted mutual travel restrictions to enable free movement of people within the region, without the need for self-isolation. The launch of the so-called “Baltic travel bubble” was welcomed by Estonians and by EU institutions, which encouraged other member states to follow this example.
Although all three Baltic countries were able to hold the ‘Baltic Bubble’ for some time during the summer, September came with more cases in all three countries and the Bubble bursts as Latvia reinstated the 14-day quarantine for travellers from neighbouring countries and soon the Baltics were back to imposing restrictions as the countries faced the second wave of the pandemic.
Latvian start to feel the corona fatigue
Pandemic struck Latvia in early March. The first people who brought the virus back home had returned from Milan. Then the state of emergency was declared on March 13. International travel was halted, people were advised to stay inside and, if possible, work from home. Schools were closed, testing was increased, and fines for not following the restrictions were introduced. State of emergency was eventually extended until early June, with only a few restrictions eased.
At that time, the situation wasn’t as close to being critical. And most of the population – close to 70% – considered the restrictions to be adequate and needed. The situation has changed during the second wave of Covid-19. The number of those who trust government information has fallen to 53%, and only 43% of the population now agree with the new measures imposed. On social media, there are active groups that openly criticize the government for imposing any restrictions at all, and the media for “taking orders from the government and spreading false news”. One of such groups – “Tautas Varas Fronte” – organised a demonstration in Riga next to the Monument of Freedom, where they questioned the existence of …