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Lithuanian PM calls on people not to go to shops unless necessary

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte on Wednesday called on people not to go to shops or service providers unless necessary after the government allowed some of them to reopen next Monday, 

"I am pleading with those who are planning to visit service providers or shops to think about (...) whether they must do so as early as next week, because the recommendation to avoid unnecessary contact remains in place," Simonyte told a news conference.

"We still have more than ten people dying every day; we have over a thousand people in hospitals, apart from more than a hundred in intensive care," she said. "We still have to make an extra effort to improve the situation, to reduce the number of cases and to be able to return to normal life more quickly."   

The prime minister added that following the recommendations is the only "way to avert a third lockdown that the government wants to avoid at all costs".

Earlier on Wednesday, the Cabinet decided to allow non-food shops with direct street access and hairdressers and beauty salons to reopen next Monday.  

Health Minister Arunas Dulkys said the government took the step because it wanted to provide a level playing field for small and medium-sized businesses and because of the improved epidemiological situation.  

The government also allowed street vendors to sell non-food products. 

The current restrictions on travel between municipalities and gatherings remain in place. 

Hairdressers, beauty salons and most non-food stores in Lithuania have been closed since December 16. 

Lithuanian PM, German chancellor to discuss EU vaccination challenges, events in Russia

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte will not Tuesday hold a remote conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss vaccination challenge within the European Union and events in Russia, Rasa Jakilaitiene, spokeswoman for the Lithuanian premier, told BNS on Tuesday.

In her words, Simonyte and Merkel will also speak about measures to contain the pandemic, bilateral relations and the situation in Belarus.

AstraZeneca said in late January it would deliver fewer coronavirus vaccine dozes to the EU than was initially planned, but the amount was slightly increased after negotiations with the European Commission.

There were also problems related to the delivery of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine when the company temporarily cut their delivery volumes.

EU countries are now using the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, with the first deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine expected in early February.

1st Brexit-linked trade changes will be felt in April – Lithuanian vicemin

VILNIUS – As the United Kingdom finally withdrew from the European Union early this year, the first Brexit-related trade changes should be felt in April, Lithuania's vice minister of foreign affairs says.

According to Arnoldas Pranckevicius, any changes will be significant for Lithuania as the UK is an important export partner.

"The first changes will be felt soon. As of April 1, special certificates will be need for agricultural goods and food product exports to the United Kingdom," Pranckevicius told the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.

"From July, these goods will be able to enter the UK only via certain border checkpoints where good will undergo checks," the vice minister said.

In his words, a year later, food labeling will have to be changed, but Britain has already set a transitional period until September, 2020 for that.

Meanwhile, for industrial goods to be exported to the UK, conformity assessment certificates will need to be received from British institutions by next year, and conformity labeling will also change.

"Otherwise, the Brits won't accept those goods, and permits issued in EU countries no longer be valid," Pranckevicius said.

The vice minister also underlined that the EU-UK agreement preserves equal competitions conditions for the transport sector which accounts for a major part of Lithuania's services exports to the UK.

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