Entry into Latvia in an emergency situation: new requirements

20.12.2021 Karina Katz, lawyer

In order to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 strain in Latvia, which was relatively recently discovered in the Republic of South Africa, on December 7 this year, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted amendments to Order No. 720 “On Declaration of the Emergency Situation” (“Order”) which, among other things, stipulate new requirements for entry into Latvia from abroad in the context of a pandemic. Let’s focus on some of the requirements stipulated by the new edition of the Order.

During the emergency situation such persons are prohibited from entering Latvia who have stayed, for the last 10 days, in one of the following particularly high-risk countries determined by the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: the Republic of South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Malawi. This list of high0risk countries can be expanded. E.g. Estonia has added Egypt and Turkey into this list.

This prohibition does not refer to the nationals of the Republic of Latvia and permanent residents of the European Union with a residence permit in Latvia who have visited, within the last 10 days, one of the above-mentioned countries, but they have to observe the following requirements:

  • present a COVID-19 RNA test result which has been performed not earlier than 72 hours before entering the territory of Latvia;
  • undergo a COVID-19 RNA test as soon as possible but not later than within 24 hours after entering the territory of Latvia and another one – on the eighth day after entering Latvia;
  • go to a tourist accommodation establishment immediately after entering the territory of Latvia in order to ensure self-isolation for 10 days following the exit from one of the mentioned particularly high-risk countries, having informed the tourist accommodation establishment that the person has stayed in the particularly high-risk country and that he or she has an obligation to ensure self-isolation.

If the person who has entered Latvia from the particularly high-risk country has not ensured self-isolation at the tourist accommodation establishment, the household members who have been in contact with this person have an obligation to ensure self-isolation at their place of residence, place of stay or tourist accommodation establishment for 10 days.

Travels to these particularly high-risk countries and organisation of such travels is prohibited.

As per new amendments, now the nationals of the Republic of Latvia and permanent residents of the European Union (including those who have an interoperable vaccination or recovery certificate) when entering the Riga International Airport, are provided with a possibility to undergo a RNA test free of charge in the territory of airport.

A new edition of the Order has expanded the powers of airport employees or representatives of the State Border Guard or State Police. Regardless of the fact if a person has an interoperable vaccination or recovery certificate or not, the above-mentioned authorities are entitled to require that the person (including passengers arriving in Latvia by air) should undergo a RNA test in the territory of the Riga International Airport.

A person who has undergone the RNA test must:

  • immediately go to his or her place of residence, place of stay, or tourist accommodation establishment to wait for the test result;
  • immediately contact his or her general practitioner and conduct strict isolation in case of a positive test.

The requirement of an airport employee or a representative of the State Border Guard or State Police shall not refer to:

  • the children under the age of 12 years;
  • the employees of the transport and carriage of passengers service providers and to the crews of passenger, freight, or technical voyages also when they are going to the place where they perform their work duties or when they are returning from it;
  • seafarers who must reach their work place aboard a ship or must return from it;
  • the aircraft passengers who cross the territory of the Republic of Latvia in transit without leaving airport terminals and can present a confirmation of the next flight which takes place within the next 24 hours.
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