Although conceptually the ministers agreed to accept the amendments on Friday, February 26, their consideration has been postponed until today to clarify whether passengers from third countries in transit will have to take the Covid-19 test and who should pay for it.
The Minister of the Interior Sandis Ģirģens (For a Human Latvia; KPV LV) pointed out at a government meeting on Friday that the Ministry of the Interior supports safe travel. The border guard also follows the current situation and has sufficient resources to control immigrants.
According to the Ministry of Transport (MoT), the amendments are necessary because other countries, including Estonia and Lithuania, allow passenger transport to and from third countries, and in practice Latvian passengers make such journeys using transit facilities through neighboring countries or by land. . The authorization of controlled passenger transport for essential passengers on direct flights is intended to improve the tracing and control of passenger flows for epidemiological security purposes.
The MoU clarifies that data following the lifting of the transport ban to and from other European Union (EU), European Economic Area countries, as well as the Swiss Confederation and the United Kingdom show that the ban on international passenger transport does not in itself affect the number of new Covid-19 cases. the number of cases is small, especially when traveling by air.
The ministry cites data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, which show that there is no correlation between air travel and the prevalence of Covid-19 when the virus is already spreading locally. In 2020, a total of 40,904 cases of Covid-19 cases were confirmed in Latvia, of which 892 cases were imported, of which, in turn, 250 cases were by air transport, which is 0.61% of all confirmed cases.
Also in 2021, the largest number of Covid-19 cases is imported by private transport – 130 cases were imported to Latvia in January, of which by aviation – 26. In recent weeks, subject to the additional obligation to present a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding, imported Covid-19 the number of cases with aviation is declining every week.
The MoU indicates that when persons enter Latvia by car, there are greater opportunities not to fill in the “Covidpass.lv” certificate. These persons, when moving by car, may be in contact with many other persons both in Latvia and outside Latvia, which may lead to a higher risk of infection of these persons and traceability of contact persons. The MoU emphasizes that the entry of essential travelers by direct flights will allow better control and tracking of passenger flows.
The MoU also mentioned as arguments for lifting the ban that a large part of passengers entering Latvia by air from third countries transit, significant travelers from third countries will be subject to several checks, as well as the fact that the resumption of the aviation sector is a precondition for economic growth. .
As LETA previously pointed out to the Civil Aviation Agency, international passenger transportation to third countries has been banned in Latvia since March 17, last year, when all international flights were temporarily canceled.
The only temporary exception was Georgia, to which the EU temporarily allowed flights, however, no changes have been made to Latvia’s legislation on flights to third countries since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.