LRT English Newsletter: End of celebrations in the time of coronavirus

Predictably, the coronavirus dominated headlines this week and the country wakes up to life under different rules on Friday.

While Lithuania has so far confirmed only three cases, the government has  announced   sweeping anti-epidemic measures to manage the risks, including closing down the country’s schools for two weeks and banning travel to some countries.

Vilnius went even further,  introducing tough measures   of its own: closing down schools, theatres and gyms for five weeks and cancelling all public events.

Lithuania  tripled   its coronavirus count – from one to three – Tuesday night, when a couple from Kaunas were diagnosed with Covid-19 after returning from a skiing trip in northern Italy.

Meanwhile the first Lithuanian case, a woman from Šiauliai, still  tested positive   for the virus after more than a week in hospital.

As other countries step up their measures, Lithuanians are affected by travel restrictions: airlines are  cancelling flights   and Lithuania is included into Donald Trump’s travel ban.

CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS

On the eve of the anti-epidemic restrictions, Lithuanians did not hold back celebrating the 30th anniversary of their country’s independence, with concerts and massive processions. The day in pictures  here  .

How well has the country done over these last 30 years? A survey asked Lithuanians if they were happy with where the country is now – and here are the  results  .

Another survey named the most consequential figures of the last 30 years. Landsbergis and two former presidents  top the list  .

Just before the independence day, women’s rights advocates  rallied   in Kaunas to say things could be better. On the International Women’s Day, several hundred people demanded tougher action on gender violence, chanting: “It’s not my fault, however I dress and wherever I go.”

MEN ARE FLOWERS

Or at least they can be just as delicate and fragile as women are thought to be. A duo of artists have asked 12 of them to bare their souls – and bodies – in front of the camera in a project aimed at shattering gender stereotypes.  Take a look   at some of the results (viewer discretion is advised)

PICKING SIDES OVER CUBA

As Lithuania remains the only EU member state not to have ratified the 2016 cooperation agreement with Cuba, US State Secretary Pompeo  has asked   Vilnius to block the deal.

We’ll think about it, President Nausėda  responded  , careful to note that Lithuania would not like to be in the position where it had to pick sides between the EU and the US.

LRT SOLUTIONS FOR BETTER WORK

In a new installment of LRT Looks for Solutions, we go to a Vilnius-based company that has decided to shorten working hours for its employees – without cutting the pay, of course. Could this work elsewhere?  Take a look   (hint: yes, absolutely, we should all do it)

POLITICS UPDATE

– this week, the Lithuanian parliament, Seimas,  started   its spring session, the last full one before this year’s general election; – following revelations that the country’s intelligence service, the VSD, may have crossed the line investigating presidential candidates, the PM has  called for tougher supervision  . The president, meanwhile,  does not believe   there’s a need for an investigation; – President Nausėda insists he will deliver on the ‘welfare state’ pledge, first by significantly raising Lithuania’s government spending-to-GDP ratio. Pushing through new taxes may be a challenge, though,  he admits  .

BACK TO LITHUANIA

Since joining the EU, Lithuania has lost more population to emigration than any other new member state. Now, the moods seem ripe to reverse the tide, a  survey shows  .

LRT.LT

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