Lithuania closes borders for 15 days due to COVID-19

Lithuania announced a nation-wide quarantine from March 16 to March 30. During this time period, foreign citizens, except those having a residence or work permit, won't be allowed entry. The time period may be reassessed during or after the announced quarantine. So far, fourteen cases of COVID-19 have been identified; all of them are people having returned from abroad.

Terms of the quarantine:

  • foreign citizens cannot enter the country from March 16 00:00 (exempt from the ruling are those that have a valid residence permit, as well as truck drivers, diplomats, NATO enlisted and support personnel as well as their family members);
  • transit of people returning to their country via Lithuanian territory is possible until March 19, 00:00;
  • Lithuanian citizens are barred from exiting the country, except citizens returning to their country of residence or work;
  • all mass events are banned;
  • movement of goods is unrestricted;
  • inter-city buses are instructed to limit the number of passengers;
  • all public institutions will provide services only remotely;
  • all cafes, bars and restaurants to provide takeaway services only;
  • all non-essential goods retail stores to provide shipping services only;

Full list of measures under the quarantine can be accessed here.

If you are a foreign citizen planning to return to your home country during the quarantine, we strongly advise contacting your embassy immediately. Here's a list of Lithuania-based embassies and consulates.

A set of pre-emptive measures implemented before the quarantine since mid-February helped the Baltic nation to minimize panic and mitigate the risks of contagion:

Keeping all publics informed. The Government established a uniform communication channel on January 27. All key publics (medical professionals, journalists, citizens) have a reliable source of information updated once per day.

State of Emergency drill initiated pre-emptively. Declaring a State of Emergency before the first case was even reported allowed the Government to:

  • set up a state-level operations centre under the leadership of the Minister of Health;
  • gain access to the federal reserve;
  • simplify public procurement procedures;
  • streamline the production of disinfectant materials (production started by private contractors on March 6, a total of 80,000 litres have already been produced);
  • manage preventive measures at points of entry;
  • declare influenza epidemic status on the municipal level to facilitate;
  • help at-risk citizens to self-quarantine;
  • limit mass events.

More about these and other measures can be found here.

Containment strategy at work – as of the morning of March 16, fourteen cases have been reported. The first Lithuanian citizen was diagnosed with COVID-19 on February 28 after returning from Verona, Italy on February 24. The citizen, a woman in her 30s, followed the official guidelines of self-quarantining and informing medical personnel by phone. Three immediate family members were taken under supervision as soon as the COVID-19 test came back positive. No further cases linked to this patient zero have been confirmed. The patient fully recovered and got released on March 14.

Two other cases – a married couple from Kaunas – were announced on March 11. Both of them came back from Northern Italy, self-quarantined upon return and called the hospital after exhibiting a fever. The latest 3 cases were confirmed on March 13 in Vilnius, Klaipėda and Kaunas. All three patients were infected while visiting abroad. The patient currently being treated in Vilnius is of Spanish nationality, the other two individuals are Lithuanian citizens.

Three cases were reported on March 14. The first case was confirmed on the morning of March 14 – a 21-year-old male from Kretinga was infected while visiting Denmark. The patient is currently hospitalized in Klaipėda. Another male was hospitalized in Vilnius; he had travelled from Italy. The third case was identified in the evening – a male from Panevėžys who cam back from a work trip in the Netherlands.

Three new cases were identified on March 15 - two in Vilnius and one in Klaipėda. Two more cases in Vilnius were identified on the night of March 15-16.

As of March 14, 520 samples in Lithuania were tested. 9176 individuals are currently under watch after returning from high-risk territories or being in contact with potential carriers.