Travel and border control
On 26th of February, State level emergency on COVID-19 threat was declared. Prior to that, recommendations for travellers were issued on 28th of January by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, advising against travel to China. Border controls were implemented on 14th March at 6 p.m.(1) From 16th March 00:00 Lithuania announced the quarantine regime (2) (initially until 30th March, prolonged until 13th of April and further extended the temporary intern al border control until April 6 p.m) via the Government Decree.(3; 29) Temporary internal border controls have been further extended until 14 May. 6 p.m.(49). The right of persons to leave and enter Lithuania has been restricted. Lithuanian citizens working in foreign countries were still able to leave upon submission of appropriate documents.(4) Cruise ships are no longer allowed to enter Klaipeda Seaport. State Border Guard Service and the police service are responsible for ensuring that transport carrying perishable goods or medical supplies is given priority to cross the border. For this reason, “green” transport lane was established in order for the trucks to avoid congestion.(5) From 2nd April, crews working for Lithuanian companies engaged in international commercial freight transport must avoid close contact (maintain a distance of at least two meters) with persons with respiratory symptoms of the disease (cough, sneezing).(6)
From 4th April, all commercial passenger flights and ferries (except for one route Klaipeda-Kiel) have been halted, and assistance to citizens wanting to return to Lithuania can only be provided in exceptional circumstances.(7) Supplies of cargo and goods remain operational.(8) On 8th of April, local train journeys were optimized (30 journeys suspended), but the necessary connections between the cities will continue to be provided (25). At Vilnius Airport from 13th of May passenger flights are resumed, the first of which is Lufthansa's flight from Vilnius to Frankfurt (Germany). The country's largest air gates report that they are fully prepared to resume flights and ensure passenger safety at terminals, and the measures recommended by international aviation organizations and the country's health professionals have been implemented. (65) The government supported the Foreign Ministry's proposal to resume scheduled flights to Norway (Oslo, Alesund, Bergen and Torp Sandefjord) operated by by AirBaltic and WizzAir from 25th May. (76) On 3rd of June the government supported the Foreign Ministry's proposal to resume regular flights to Paris, Copenhagen, Billund, Nice and Turku. (84)
The following recommendations regarding travel were issued on Tuesday, 3rd of March: “In preparation for the trip, it is recommended to assess the epidemic situation of COVID-19 disease (coronavirus infection) in specific countries (available on the World Health Organization page and the need for travel and the risk of possible quarantine.” Two days later the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended temporarily not to visit China, South Korea and the regions of Northern Italy, Lombardy, Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna, due to the coronavirus.(9) On 10th of March it was announced that the list of countries (China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Singapore) is prolonged and it is recommended not to travel also to Italy, France, Germany, Spain.(10) On 12th of March the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania advised a citizens to postpone all travel and not to travel abroad for the next month.(11) On 13th of March the Head of State Emergency Operations Center announced eight more countries included in the list of dangerous territories that include Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Egypt. (12) On 16th of March, all countries were announced to be risky, and the travellers who recently returned from any foreign country must be isolated for 14 days (see section 1.3).
Today, 13th of May, the first passenger plane from Germany arrives in Lithuania. Therefore, MOH reminds of the rules of quarantine and isolation (self-isolation) when returning to Lithuania from other countries. All returnees must be isolated for 14 days at home or elsewhere (64)
From Friday, 15th of May, Lithuanian citizens will be able to return from abroad or foreigners will be able to come to Lithuania through two more points on the border with Latvia, i.e. Būtingė-Rucava and Smėlynė-Medumi. At present, it is possible to leave for Latvia through them, but it is possible to return only through the Saločiai-Grenctalė point. From 18th of May it will also be possible to enter and leave through the Kalviai-Meteinė border checkpoint. (63) From 1st of June border controls with Latvia were abolished. (80)
From 21st May, Lithuanian citizens, as well as their spouses and children, can transit through Poland when going from Lithuania to a third country, as long as the transit time does not exceed 12 hours. The ban on international flights in Poland has been extended until June 6. (77)
On 10th of June, the Government has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow resumption of regular flights to Lithuania from Ireland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, and Cyprus. Carriers wishing to operate scheduled flights have to submit a flight schedule to the Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration three days prior to their commencement. (89)
From 12th of June free movement between the Baltic States and Poland opened. (87) Until 12th of June, Poland extended the control of the European Union's internal borders with Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. (68)
After the end of the quarantine on 16th of June restrictions will remain in place in regards to flights and ferries to Lithuania from countries affected by the coronavirus. Entry will be allowed only for citizens of those countries of the EU/EEA/UK, where the total incidence of COVID-19 has not exceeded 25 cases/100 000 population over the last 14 calendar days. The list of such countries is released every Monday by the State Commander of National Emergency Operations. Screening will be carried out at the airports, Klaipėda Seaport and five EU external border crossing points with Belarus and Russia. The temperature of arriving persons will be measured and they will be required to register within 48 hours. A 14-day isolation is recommended but not obligatory for all persons arriving from these countries; it will be possible to obtain a certificate of incapacity for work if mandatory isolation is accepted. Arrivals from other countries that are not affected by coronavirus (where incidence is lower than 25 per 100,000 population in the last 14 days) will not be subject to any restrictions. There are no controls on passengers crossing the EU's internal borders (Latvia, Poland).
On 23rd of June the government approved the proposal of the Ministry of the Interior to allow foreigners to enter Lithuania, for whom a decision was made to issue them a national visa or residence permit. The government also approved the proposal to issue permits to enter Lithuania for highly skilled athletes, sports and physical activity specialists, instructors and their family members. Such permission to enter and participate in high-level sports competitions would be issued by the Minister of Education, Science and Sports. The Ministry of Health has also keeps the list of countries most affected by coronavirus infection, which is updated weekly. (91)
On 17th of June revised list of coronavirus safe countries becomes effective. High incidence of COVID-19 (coronavirus infection) will continue to prevent arrivals to Lithuania from Portugal, UK and Sweden. As of Monday, a 14-day isolation was foreseen for foreigners arriving from Belgium. If they came to Lithuania before 16 June, inclusive, isolation requirement will continue to apply in their case. Arrivals from Belgium from 17 June, however, will no longer fall subject to isolation requirement. The Ministry of Health reminds us that this new regime applies to foreigners from the European Economic Area, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.(86)
In line with the approved recommendations of the Council of Europe, on 21st October the Government decided on the criteria to be applied at the national level, according to which all the countries of the EU would be divided into four groups according to the traffic light principle. According to the introduced criteria, the risk will be assessed, the list of affected countries will be updated and preventive measures will be applied. The main criteria for assessing countries would be a 14-day morbidity rate of 100,000. population, percentage of positive tests among the performed tests in 7 days, testing volumes (number of tests per 100 thousand population) in 7 days. When assessing the EU countries according to the above criteria, they are intended to be divided into four groups according to colours - green, yellow, red and grey. The green group will include countries with a morbidity of less than 25 cases per 100 thousand. population in the last 14 days and the proportion of positive tests is less than 4%. This means that people coming from the green zone will not be subject to restrictions. The yellow group will consist of countries with a morbidity of less than 50 cases per 100 thousand. population in the last 14 days, and the proportion of positive studies is 4% or more or morbidity in the last 14 days ranges from 25 to 150 cases per 100 thousand. the share of the population and positive research is less than 4%. The red group will include countries with 50 or more cases per 100,000 cases population in the last 14 days and the proportion of positive tests 4% or morbidity is greater than 150 cases per 100 thousand population in the last 14 days. In the grey group, there will be countries whose data are insufficient to assess the above criteria or where the scope of testing is 300 or less studies per 100 thousand. population within 7 days. Those traveling to Lithuania from the red and grey areas will use various measures used so far - isolation or being asked to have a coronavirus (COVID-19) test performed. (101) No need to be isolated is applied if you person has a certificate from a medical institution about a recurrent coronavirus infection not earlier than 3 months before coming to Lithuania.
From 9th of November a passenger transport company of the Lithuanian Railways Group, has temporarily suspended 25 local train routes due to rising number of cases and falling passenger flows, and changed the frequency of 14 more routes. (102)
Before festive period in December 2020 the new government announced restrictions on movement between municipalities:
18 December 13:00 to 20 December 21:00
23 December 13:00 to 27 December 21:00
31 December 13:00 to 3 January 21:00
3rd January to 31st January
Police will organise stationary checkpoints at the access points of all municipal centres, bringing in additional resources. It is provisionally estimated that around EUR 1 700 000 will be needed to ensure control of movement restrictions.
On 18th of December it was announced that every traveller returning to or arriving to Lithuania by regular, special or chartered voyages to Lithuania must provide his/her personal data to specialists of the National Centre for Public Health electronically. This means that before boarding a plane, ferry, bus or train, a person must fill out a special questionnaire on the National Centre for Public Health website and provide the confirmation received – the so-called QR code – at the time of boarding. At that time, if, for example, you travelled by your own car from the affected country or through the affected country, register and fulfil the passenger card, you must not later than 12 hours from the moment of return / arrival in Lithuania. Here is a form https://keleiviams.nvsc.lt/lt/form (109).
The MOH recalls that in Lithuania, restrictions on movement between municipalities also apply to citizens who have temporarily returned to Lithuania. Residents who arrive by air or land transport to Lithuania can only travel to the declared place of residence, where they have real estate, to the rented accommodation premises or to a specific address in a particular municipality, for example to their parents. (110)
On 20th December, an urgent decision was made to suspend flights from and to the UK from 4am on 21st December, due to the new strain of Sars-Cov-2 reported circulating in the UK and responsible for faster transmission. Flights from UK to Lithuania were resumed on 1st January 2021.
From 8th February the Ministry of Transport has instructed Lithuanian airports and the Klaipėda Seaport Authority to ensure that enhanced passenger controls through checkpoints for every passenger, manned by the Border Service and public health personnel.(117)
Following the tightening of the rules of entry into Lithuania by the Lithuanian Government (from March 10, arrivals will have to pass the COVID-19 test, which would be negative), Red Cross volunteers come to the aid of the National Public Health Center and will help verify arrivals at Lithuanian airports and in Klaipeda State Seaport. (121)
From the morning of April 9, COVID-19 testing services are launched near Palanga Airport. Laboratory testing company Rezus.lt has been established near the passenger terminal at the seaside airport– paid testing services will be provided here in line with the flight schedule (and on weekends). (127)
Economy, finance and labour
On 16th of March, the Ministry of Finance, together with the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, the Ministry of Health and the Bank of Lithuania submitted a cross-sectoral response plan to the Government. (13) The Plan envisages allocating 10% of GDP (5 billion Euros) to the COVID-19 response. The plan’s objectives include spending on:
1. 500 million Eur has been allocated to the health sector (including public health).
2. Another 500 million Eur has been allocated for job and income retention. It is envisaged that the employees benefit shall not be less than the minimum state monthly salary. The proportion of public funding amounts to 60% of income support, but not more than the minimum monthly salary. Self-employed persons making compulsory health insurance contributions can receive up to € 257 / month for up to 3 months when they are unable to carry out their activities due to quarantine. Employers and the self-employed can apply to the Employment Service for assistance from the state from 5th April.(14) Grace period for home loan instalments (excluding interest) has been extended from 3 to 6 months with a state guarantee.
3. Further, 500 million Eur was allocated to maintain business liquidity (e.g. emergency tax loans, deferred payments without interest; making it possible for a business to delay payments for running costs).(15)
4. Also, 1 billion Eur is intended to stimulate the economy (redistribute the EU investment funds to health, employment, and business; utilize all funds of the Climate Change, Road Maintenance, and Development programs and accelerate the renovation of apartment buildings.
5. The lending potential of banks is envisaged to be increased by 2.5 billion Eur. Starting mid-April, small and medium-sized businesses can apply for loans to pay bills, wages, and maintain running costs and liquidity. A separate fund is being created to ensure liquidity and allow recovery of medium-sized and large businesses. (16)
Ministry of Finance forecasts for April predicted that The Lithuanian economy will shrink by 7.3 percent this year if the spread of coronavirus is contained by summer, and by even more if not. This is a significant downgrade of its forecast on March 17, when it saw the economy contracting between 1.3 percent and 2.8 percent in 2020. Its earlier forecast, from September, was for growth of 2.4 percent. On March 26, the country's central bank said the economy will shrink will by 11.4 percent this year if a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak lasts for two months or by 20.8 percent if it is extended to four months.(47)
On 15th April, the government approved a proposal by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation to subsidize up to 50 percent of the rent for business. (37) Two more state aid measures for COVID-19 affected companies are being launched. For small and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed individuals, the new financial instrument "Loans to the businesses most affected by COVID-19" will facilitate access to finance and maintain business continuity for businesses that have lost a large part of their turnover. (38) The implementation of state aid measures for businesses affected by COVID-19 has already reached its finish line - most of the new financial instruments for business have been launched by 17th April. Since February, 22 million Eur has been distributed to businesses. (39)
On 20th April, the Ministry of Finance calculated that unemployment might reached 8.1 per cent, inflation would amount to 2 per cent, growth rate of household spending should decline from 3.2 per cent in 2019 to 1 per cent in 2020. (71)
On 5th May, the European Commission predicts that GDP will contract by 7.9 percent this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the country’s economy should rebound and grow 7.4 percent next year. (72)
On 6th of May it was announced that rents will be reduced for companies that have leased state-owned real estate and are experiencing difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis. The government approved a draft prepared by the Ministry of Finance to change the lease of state long-term tangible assets, state and municipal real estate, according to which tenants of state real estate will have the opportunity to pay 20% during and two months after quarantine.(55)
On 7th May, the Parliament approved a new post-pandemic welfare package (exceeding 800 mln eur) which includes a range of pay-outs for more than 1.3 million people for up to six months (until December 2020): maintaining monthly job seekers’ allowances; 200-euro per month benefits for those unemployed but not entitled to job seeker’s allowance; additional 42 euros per month for recipients of social security benefits; subsidies for businesses to cover monthly minimum wages (607 euros before tax) for up to 10 employees (businesses with 20 employees or less) or half of employees for larger businesses for the initial two months, half the minimum wage for the next 2 months, and 30% for the remaining 2 months. Vulnerable groups (pensioners, social benefit recipients, job seekers) will each receive a one-off payment of 200 euros in August. Finally, families who lost income due to the quarantine will be eligible for a monthly benefit of 100 euros per child (instead of the universal child benefit of 60 euros) from June to December 2020. (73)
From 11th May, information and consultations will be provided to Lithuanian businesses affected by COVID-19 by short number 1824. On 13th May it was announced that a Business Support Fund has been set up to ensure the liquidity of small and medium-sized enterprises, their access to finance and their faster recovery from the crisis.
The planned size of the fund's investment portfolio: 1 billion.(69)
By 1st of June 12.5 percent was used in the implementation of measures of the economic stimulus plan. (82) The Plan aims to secure the state treasury liquidity – change the law granting the right to the Government to borrow an additional 5 billion Eur. Until 21st May Lithuania has borrowed 4.3 billion Euros.(43)
Older workers fear that employers will not be inclined to keep them in work in the face of a pandemic, as older people are at greater risk of COVID-19 infection. For this reason, the Ministry of Social Security and Labor has proposed a new option for employers to release workers aged 60 and over during an emergency or quarantine in downtime for a subsidy. The proposal was approved at a government meeting on Wednesday (27th of May). Amounts of subsidies for a worker aged 60 and over who is put to downtime during an emergency or quarantine: 100 percent. from the calculated salary, but not more than 607 euros gross; 70 percent. from the calculated salary, but not more than 910.5 euros gross. During downtime, an employee may not be paid less than the minimum monthly wage if the full working time rate has been agreed. After the end of quarantine and emergency, or after the employee is returned from downtime, the employer can continue to apply for 6 months. duration subsidies for the salary of the same employee: in the first-second month - 100%, in the third-fourth - 50%, in the fifth-sixth - 30%. In all cases, the maximum limit is EUR 607 gross. (83)
In June 2020, the Government is working to help business maintain its liquidity, but some restrictions on economic activity remain in place to protect the population against the new outbreak of coronavirus. A safe distance of 2 meters must be maintained in public points of service and trade (distance may be smaller if there is a partition or PPE), at least 1 meter distance must be kept in queues, it is mandatory to sanitise premises, trolleys and shopping baskets, to ensure hand hygiene for staff and customers. Employers have to ensure employees that show symptoms are sent home or can be isolated. Visitors and staff are advised to wear face coverings and gloves. Leisure and entertainment venues must also observe distance of at least 1 meter in the queues. Catering establishments (restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs and other places of entertainment) have to keep a safe distance of 2 meters between the tables (distance may be smaller if there is a partition). See also section 1.2 Physical.
Monitoring of the Economic Stimulus Plan shows that an additional € 4.9 billion is earmarked for the planed measures 10.4% EUR is currently used (EUR 510.7 million). The funds are being used gradually 47.3 EUR million have been spent in the last week and 49.9 million EUR a week earlier. Payments for jobs and personal income remain stable. A total of EUR 273.51 million has already been used that is (14.5%) EUR. From the beginning of June, the amounts of payments are almost the same: 1% is paid per week from the allocated amounts. (90)
The number of unemployed and the unemployment rate were constant throughout the quarantine period. State payments to coronavirus-affected businesses also remain stable. By 23rd of June the number of valid incapacity certificates has dropped significantly, by as much as 80%, due to the epidemic situation.(89)
During a second quarantine in December 2020, employers may declare downtime for employees if they are unable to provide employment as long as they are working full time, with employee receiving at least minimum net wage (€467 per month). From January 2021, employers will be compensated for all (100%) wages accrued and paid to the employee during downtime. The maximum reimbursable amount will be 1.5 of the minimum monthly grow wage (EUR 963). However, the amount reimbursed may not exceed the salary specified in the employment contract before the start of the second quarantine. (111)
The government meeting on 30th of December endorsed the revised concept and criteria for subsidies to COVID-19-affected companies presented by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation. It is envisaged that companies with more than 250 employees will also be eligible for support due to the negative impact of the second wave on business. Subsidies will be available to those companies whose annual turnover has fallen by at least 30% from 1st of November until 31st January 2021 compared to the corresponding period 2019-2020. If company activities have been suspended due to the pandemic since December, then the period of income decline is calculated from 1 December this year until 31st of January 2021. (111)
From 20th January, businesses that experience difficulties due to COVID-19 restrictions can apply for grants and loans. New business aid package prepared by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation amounts to EUR 180 million (EUR 150 million for grants and EUR 30 million will be allocated to loans).
The government approved the concept of subsidies to the companies most affected by the pandemic developed by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation. For business, further lump sums totalling 70 million euros will be distributed. (118)
In January-February 2021, employers for almost 120 thousand downtime workers received state subsidies. In the first 2 months, as much as a third of subsidies were received by employees working in retail and wholesale companies - the support reached about 40 thousand people. (124) Taxpayers affected by the pandemic may apply for an interest-free tax loan, deferred until 31 August 2021; no tax refunds will be applied and no interest will be charged until 31st October 2021 (127).
Byl 3rd of May 2021 Ministry of Economy and Innovation approved 104 mln EUR support for businesses affected by quarantine restrictions, where 69.4 EUR million was allocated for subsidies, 28.2 million EUR for soft loans, 1.99 million EUR for marketplace tax refunds and 4.47 million EUR for the self-employed subsidies. Nearly 27 million where provided to those businesses that lost at least 30% of the turnover and whose main activity is included in the list of restricted and indirectly restricted economic activities during the quarantine. In total 8,821 companies have already received this support. (129)
Traders in open markets who have not previously applied for tax refunds can apply for a one-off compensation of € 300 from 10th May 2021. (130)
In May 2021, the Ministry of Social Security and Labor offered more targeted support to self-employed and those receiving unemployment/job-seeking allowance. The measures will be in place until the end of September 2021. (131)
From 13th of March restrictions on attending educational institutions were recommended; from March 16th until March 27 the process of education, training and study in all educational institutions, i.e. universities, colleges and schools, as well as day and employment centers, kindergartens, non-formal education institutions was suspended.(18) On 20th of March it was stated that The Ministry of Education, Science and Sports intends to buy or rent 35,000 computers in preparation for distance learning.(19, 36) A series of consultation seminars on distance learning for the education community were arranged from 24th of March. Learning resumed on 30th March via distance learning process. All general education and special schools work, providing not only education, but also consultations of educational support specialists have started to work remotely. Ministry of Education is set to provide pupils from low income families with computers and access to unlimited internet.(28, 30, 35) Final school exams have been postponed to start from 22nd June, with the date of admissions to post-secondary education also moved back (31). The school is going to last until at least 1 June.(42)
In order to address the emotional health of pupils affected by the challenges posed by COVID-19, the MOH has developed guidelines for teachers and parents on how to communicate appropriately with children about coronavirus.(45,46)
It is planned that children will be able to return to kindergartens as early as May 18, subject to safety measures. (56) Schools remain closed. Foreign language proficiency exams may be held upon admission to foreign higher education institutions, provided that no more than 10 people take part in the examination and that an area of at least 10 square meters is provided per participant 2 meters’ distance. Day and employment centres for children and people with disabilities are also allowed to work. Day care and employment centers for the elderly will continue to be closed five persons, but only if a safe distance between people can be maintained in the room or other chosen place will the necessary COVID-19 protection measures be observed. (58)
Recommendations for schools regarding the graduation ceremonies have been issued on 19th May. As there are restrictions on number of people participating in events (up to 30 as of 27th May), schools can organize ceremonies outside, for each class separately, maintaining 2m distance. All participants of the celebration are recommended to wear face coverings, disinfect hands at the entrance, and avoid physical contact. Party equipment must be disinfected. Is not recommended for vulnerable person to attend. (74)
On 19th May, recommendations on how to organize children's summer camps have also been issued. Also, camp organizers should organize activities for groups of no more than 15 children and make sure that one child is allocated at least 5 sq. M. m area. (75)
On 22nd of May it was announced that from the following week, primary school students can return to school (see also section 1.2). However, few schools plan to continue the school year in the classroom, while almost 75% decided to continue distance learning. A quarter of schools (usually smaller schools outside urban centres) plan to do a mixture of distance- and classroom-based learning. (78)
According to the Ministry of Education, schools should avoid contact between different classes, organize lessons for each group in the same classroom, maintain distance of at least 1m. Requirements for the premises: frequent ventilation, disinfection of surfaces and tools. (79)
On 27th of May it was stated that pre-school education and non-formal education of children are carried out in schools and other education providers, with the necessary conditions for public health safety, hygiene, provision of PPE; higher education, vocational training or non-formal adult education programs may be carried out at a distance.(81)
On 9th June, the parliament approved an additional one off 120-200 EUR payment for children who are eligible for child benefit, as additional measure to reduce the negative economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. (85)
The lifting of the quarantine from 17th June has removed restrictions from education providers given they satisfy the requirements for the protection of public health, hygiene and the provision of persons with the necessary PPE. In all cases, the premises must be disinfected, hand hygiene must be observed, and employees of education establishments must not be allowed to work if they show symptoms or must be sent to isolation. Failing to meet the requirements, education activities will have to continue in a remote mode. Similar requirements are for social care services.
From 21st of August educational institutions are no longer required to check the temperature of students, visitors at the entrance, acute upper respiratory illness and other signs of a contagious disease (eg runny nose, cough, difficulty breathing, etc.). (92)
From 1st September education will take place in the usual way, on school premises, but with stricter safety rules. The main principle in organizing education is to manage student flows in order to reduce the contact of students studying in different classes. School staff have to wear face coverings. Student flows will be regulated, e.g. by designated entrances/exits, restricting mix between age groups, staggered start/end/lunch times, students remaining in the same classroom, where possible. (93)
In the end of September, the requirements for pupils and students to not attend educational institutions were changed (rhinitis was removed from the list of symptoms); however, people with other symptoms - fever over 37.3, cough, difficulty breathing should not be attending classes in person. Institutions also were encouraged to control social mixing, e.g. by installing additional cloakrooms, using different toilets for different groups, staggered breaks, etc.
According to data obtained on 6th of October, the proportion of both pupils and teachers in isolation is less than 1% from all pupils and educators, with a pupil share of 0.4% and educators 0.5%. Covid-19 cases of illness or isolated is about 10% of all educational establishments. (94)
The government (Ministry of Education, Science and Sports) announced 2-week educational break (one-week school holidays plus a week of distance learning) from 26 October until November 8 for pupils in grades 5–12 and in vocational training institutions. Primary school pupils only have one week of scheduled holidays and are not be covered by distance learning, unless the municipalities where the quarantine has been announced decide otherwise. (96)
The updated draft Government Resolution also provides for changes in the organization and implementation of educational activities. Until 8th November, education in schools under primary and secondary education programs will be carried out remotely. Non-formal education for children and adults will be distance-learning or should be discontinued. It is recommended to pursue higher education study programs also remotely. From November 9th, pre-school, general education, non-formal education of children and adults, vocational training, higher education studies (except for those municipalities which fall into the so-called "red" zone and are subject to quarantine) will be carried out, ensuring required safety measures. (95; 96)
The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport announced that from October 26 until November 8 non-formal education providers operate remotely, and if this is not possible, activities must be suspended. Institutions that provide training, as well as competitions for highly skilled athletes (including professional youth sport) may organize activities ensuring safety measures. (97)
From 3rd of November until 8th November the educational process of children studying in special schools and special classes of general education schools will be continued in a contact manner (100).
Basic principles of organizing free meals for school-children during quarantine: When regular contact education takes place in a school, such as pre-schoolers, first-graders or special school children, pupils are also fed normally, following all the recommendations of the operations manual: that is, the flow of pupils, organized for separate classes without mixing children of different classes with each other, avoiding grouping of students. When children are educated remotely, such as students in grades 5-12, then families of children receiving free meals can be provided with food rations or prepared meals based on the individual family situation. Cooked food is relevant for children growing up in social risk conditions and not receiving warm food at home. Municipal administrations, which cooperate with the heads of educational institutions, are responsible for organizing free meals. About 90 thousand meals are provided free of charge throughout Lithuania. (99)
During the quarantine in November and December, pre-school children, primary school, as well as SEN pupils (regardless of age), continue to attend day care/schools in person. Pupils in grades 5-12, as well as students in vocational education institutions and in higher education continue to study in person, remotely, or in a mixed way. The choice of method is decided by the school itself or its founder, in the case of general education schools it is usually municipalities. (107)
Assistance package of EUR 7.5 million for learning, prepared by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport EUR 7.5 million has been released to assist families with children of school age to help access resources and equipment. (115) Children who do not have possibility to study from home, or those who have learning difficulties will be able to return to school from 18th January. (116)
At the request of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, the Government allocated an additional EUR 390,000 to cover the cost of additional teaching for pupils who need to take maturity exams. These funds from the Government Reserve will be used to compensate teachers who will advise graduates for additional working hours. (120)
As of 22nd March, pupils in 45 municipalities were allowed to return to primary schools. Face-to-face teaching for final year students are allowed in groups of up to 5 students. Most schools are providing blended education. Non-formal education for children and adults is gradually opening up.(125)
So far, Lithuanian Armed Forces have played a relatively small role (e.g. patrolling points of entry and borders, transporting medical supplies). However, it is envisaged that military can provide more support in maintenance of the quarantine rules in the near future, such as patrolling the streets of cities.
The Department of Mobilization and Civil Resistance has been contributing to the strengthening of civic initiatives and training of volunteers together with the Defence Support Fund since April 10. It develops recommendations and organizes training for volunteers on how to safely provide assistance to residents during quarantine. (50)
On 16th of December, it is estimated that 4000 military personnel are involved in COVID-19 response. (108)
The Government approved the proposal of the Ministry of the Interior and will reimburse the salaries incurred by the services subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior of EUR 23314000 for the month of January. Bonuses, payments for rest and public holidays, night and overtime work for officials directly involved in emergency management, control of persons who have taken place outside the territory of the municipality of their place of residence and control of compliance with the quarantine regime shall be reimbursed. (119)
The Government approved the proposal of the Ministry of the Interior to provide 1.8 million Eur for salary costs incurred by the departments under the Ministry of the Interior for February 2021. This includes covering bonuses, compensating for overtime payments for officers directly involved in emergency response and control of compliance with quarantine regime.(126)
NGOs and civil society
The working group set up in December 2020 to coordinate and address issues related to the provision of assistance to groups affected by the COVID-19 has initiated the following work by January 2021: general coordination of volunteers for hospitals and nursing homes, with the following organisations participating: National Volunteer Aid Coordination Center "Strong Together", Caritas Lithuania, Maltese Order Aid Service "Maltese", Lithuanian Red Cross Society, Lithuanian Riflemen's Union. The National Volunteer Assistance Coordination Center “Strong Together”, in cooperation with the MOH and the country's hospitals have developed a list of vital medical equipment which can be bought and donated.(112) Volunteer charity forces mobilized by NGOs provide support to older people leaving alone, to people with disabilities and to care homes (113)
Support for childcare
On 23rd of October the Ministry of Social Security and Labour issued clarification on when parents can get certificates of incapacity for work that is needed for the payment of sickness benefits:
A) If quarantine regime is not announced in the municipality, but the school or kindergarten is closed, sickness benefit for childcare is 66% from net salary.
B) When restrictions in municipality are due to another illness (e.g. flu), the benefit is paid for the care of children in kindergarten, pre-school or primary education for a maximum of 14 calendar days.
C) If a school or kindergarten in the quarantine area is closed or switched to distance learning, a parent/carer or working grandparent can receive sickness benefit for the care for children up to fourth grade, amounting to 66% of the net salary for the period while the school or kindergarten is closed.
D) When a child up to the fourth grade inclusive or a child with a disability under the age of 21 is required to self-isolate, then a parent, carer or working grandparent is entitled to sickness benefit of 66% from net salary, paid during the period of compulsory isolation, but not longer than 14 calendar days. (104; 105)
In the past few days, various ministries came up with proposals of specific relief measures for their respective sectors. For example, on 31st March, the Ministry of Culture has set out a plan for support of arts and culture, including 2 million Eur for compensation of lost wages and paying of stipends. (20) On 17th of April information was published on measures relevant to the cultural sector. Specifically, there are funding allocations of creative downtime for artists, provision of individual scholarships, one-off payments for self-employed developers. The amount of benefits depends on the amount of revenue lost due to the emergency and quarantine, EUR 600 (up to 42% of the program), EUR 1200 (up to 29% of the program) or EUR 1800 (up to 29% of the program), respectively. Support for the film industry amount to 2 million Eur and includes scholarships for filmmakers, support for cinemas, film production and distribution. (41) On 1st April, the Ministry of Environment initiated legislative changes to adapt the construction sector to the conditions of the quarantine and setting out technical regulations on how constructions should operate. (21) Also on 1st April, the Ministry of Economy and Innovation proposed to allow tour operators to offer vouchers with validity of up to 1 year for clients whose trip has been cancel due to pandemic (subject to Parliamentary approval).(22) On 2nd April, the Ministry of Agriculture proposed for businesses engaged in non-food product distribution to be able to deliver the goods or establish collection points, enabling them to continue their services, and from 7th April it provides guarantees for wage loans and interest compensation to farmers .(23)(27)
On 4th of April, preliminary data from the police showed that the extent of domestic violence has increased. The Ministry of Social Security and Labor urged residents to contact police, emergency services or designated helpline. (24, 34)
2.9 million was allocated to municipalities. In addition, EUR 1 million allocated by the Government to bonuses for employees of municipal social service institutions for the performance of particularly important tasks during the emergency and quarantine period. (51)
During the quarantine or within 3 months thereafter, missed events can be postponed, or people who purchase tickets to missed concerts will receive coupons to pay for tickets to future events organized by the same service provider. On 30th of April the Parliament passed a law prepared by the Ministries of Justice and Culture, which provides for a mechanism for refunding funds to consumers. (52)
On 13th of May the law on the effects of the quarantine was published by COVID-19 on the enforcement of consumer contracts for the provision of event organization services entered into force in 2006, providing for several possibilities for compensation for cancelled events. (66, 67)
In order to ensure the activities of art groups - theatres, choirs, orchestras and others - during quarantine, the Ministry of Health provides recommendations on how to safely organize such activities. The main requirements are to maintain a safe distance, to observe hygiene, and for people at risk not to work in the workplace or to limit their participation in rehearsals. (54)
The government, taking into account the proposals of the Ministry of Culture, provided for an additional 16.7 million in the plan of measures to stimulate the economy and reduce the consequences of the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). reducing the negative effects on creators and cultural organizations. (57)
On 15th May the implementation of tourism promotion measures have started. 15 million Eur for the promotion of inbound and outbound tourism and 30 million Eur for the loans. The first measures to promote tourism will be launched in June 2020. (70).
From 12th of November, tour operators can apply for compensation for returning tourists from abroad, fulfilling the obligations of an organized travel contract for tourists, after the announcement of an emergency. Tour operators will be reimbursed up to 75% of the cost of returning tourists. (106)
In the beginning , the Minister of Culture held a meeting with representatives of the Museum Council, the Lithuanian Museums Association and the private MO Museum. The Minister's team, together with the museologists, agreed to put together specific details in preparation for the forthcoming opening of museums in those municipalities where the epidemiological situation is better, and drafted a proposal for additional museums in cities where the situation remains tense.(122)
On 10th of March 2021 it was announced that state provisional aid of EUR 12 million will be granted to port and poultry sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (123)