Vilnius responds to coronavirus by suspending activities of educational institutions and closing public entertainment places
In response to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the City of Vilnius has taken tough measures to stop the virus from spreading. Effective tomorrow till the end of Easter holidays, all educational institutions, including kindergartens, schools and universities, will be closed, also cancelling all events and suspending activities of cinemas, sports clubs and other recreational or entertainment venues. However, the City of Vilnius recommends residents not to cage themselves within four walls, but rather go on a walk, exercise outdoors or enjoy the nature.
“We have seen examples of foreign countries how quickly the invisible virus turns into an outbreak. Although there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Vilnius so far, we perfectly understand that it is only a matter of time till this situation changes, thus we have to respond without any delay to protect residents of Vilnius, especially the most vulnerable groups. These are difficult decisions to make, and we will all suffer inconvenience or losses, but without taking these decisions, we could have far more serious consequences. And during this period, I want to ask all of you to appreciate the work of doctors the most and to protect them, because their patience and health will be the key factors determining how the virus will affect,” said Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius.
According to Povilas Poderskis, the Director of the City Administration and the Head of the Emergency Commission of the City, the main goal is to stop the spread of the virus, so every single measure that may reduce adverse consequences of coronavirus will be taken based on WHO recommendations and experience of other countries.
“We understand that stopping activities of educational institutions will cause great inconvenience to parents, but in this case, we have to think about protecting people’s lives – both those, who work in educational institutions, and parents and grandparents of children. All places where people gather for recreation or entertainment, including museums, cinemas, sports clubs and the like, will also be closed temporarily. Also we call on businesses to withstand the virus in solidarity – yes, these measures are tough, but they do not harm the economy; to the contrary, if we do not stop the virus now, it will have huge adverse consequences on the economy in the future,” said P. Poderskis.
The following decisions took effect today by the Order of the Director of the City Administration:
- Activities of all educational institutions (kindergartens, schools and universities) and extracurricular activities shall be suspended as of tomorrow (13 March) for five weeks till 17 April, including Easter holidays in this period of time.
- Directors and teachers of schools shall be informed to continue the educational process online – by e-mail and electronic grade books.
Events, public spaces and communication:
- Effective tomorrow, all events in closed areas shall be cancelled in Vilnius.
- Effective tomorrow, no public events shall be held in open areas in Vilnius.
- Effective tomorrow, all activities of all public cultural, recreation and entertainment places, namely, museums, cinemas, sports clubs and other similar places, shall be stopped.
- Activities of trading areas shall not be stopped, but their owners are recommended to take all the necessary measures to effectively disinfect and ventilate the premises, also ensuring that people are not crowding. Residents are advised to visit such places only when this is absolutely necessary, giving priority to shopping online.
- Vilnius public transport will not be stopped, but will be disinfected and ventilated more frequently, and passengers are encouraged to maintain a distance from each other. Negotiations are being held with bicycle and scooter sharing companies to start their season as early as possible.
Work of institutions:
- The City recommends all institutions and companies operating in Vilnius to cancel all business trips, to work from home to the extent possible, to cancel unnecessary meetings and move them to the virtual space.
- Effective on Monday, the City will serve residents of Vilnius remotely, electronically and by phone.
The City of Vilnius once again calls for public awareness, reducing the number of social contacts at this critical time, enforcing strict self-isolation conditions after returning from hot spots abroad, and especially protecting the most vulnerable groups, namely, the elderly and those, who suffer from chronic illnesses. Discussions are held with telecommunication companies about directly informing those, who are returning from abroad.
Today, the Mayor of Vilnius met with representatives of personal health care institutions in Vilnius to ensure prompt and effective management of the situation. Also, today the Mayor is meeting with food delivery companies regarding the opportunity of cooperation during this period in delivering food to those, who will not be able to take care of it themselves. Private companies are also being consulted on the possibility of providing Vilnius residents with access to smart TV during the self-isolation period.
In order to ensure that life is not confined to four walls of own house during this period, the City of Vilnius recommends residents to consider the following activities:
- moving exercising from closed spaces outdoors;
- going for a walk – there is absolutely no need to lock inside. However, this does not apply to those, who have to isolate themselves at home due to quarantine;
- enjoy common family activities, such as board games, watching movies or series, or engaging in creative activities;
- staying outdoors – there is a number of fantastic places around Vilnius, so use this time to explore them;
- discover new dishes at home;
- read all the books purchased at the Vilnius Book Fair; if possible, spend more time in gardens, homesteads, vacation apartments;
These decisions of the City may be supplemented with new recommendations of the government.