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Lithuanian govt backs e-voting, suggests testing it abroad

VILNIUS – The Lithuanian government has backed the legalization of e-voting but suggeststesting the new procedure, first of all, during a vote abroad in the special constituency for Lithuanian living abroad.

On Monday, the Cabinet backed the amendments under consideration by the Seimas, which would allow voting online during the upcoming general election.

The bill was initiated by the ruling Social Democratic Labor Party of Lithuania, motivating the need to introduce alternative voting option amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon receipt of the government's conclusion, the bill will be further deliberated by the Seimas.

Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevicius says e-voting cannot be introduced for the upcoming general election in October and suggests that lawmakers should consider introducing such a voting option for municipal, presidential EP elections and referenda.

„E-voting should be safe and trustworthy so than nobody has doubt over election results. Therefore, it is important to consult cyber security experts while creating and introducing such a system, and test and trial this method. With less than three months until an election, it’s impossible to create and test such a system," Jankevicius said.

The Justice Ministry also said in a statement that the procurement of an information system, creation and testing procedures could take from 18 to 24 months.

Under the bill under consideration by the Seimas, e-voting would be allowed to take place three days from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. Moreover, a person could change their mind and come to vote to a polling station.

Finally, people would be able to vote online several times as the last vote would count.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Ramunas Karbauskis, leader of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, the SDLP's coalition partner, have said earlier e-voting would be impossible during the upcoming election.

President Gitanas Nauseda has also suggested introducing e-voting for Lithuanian living abroad. He expressed such an idea during his State of the Nation Address last week.

Lithuanian will hold a general election on October 11.

Those in favor of e-voting say it would boost voter turnout. Those against it say, however, it's impossible to increase the secrecy and safety of voting.

  • 2020-06-22

Vilnius Airport implements necessary safety measures and is ready to resume passenger flights

Vilnius Airport will see the first post-pandemic passenger flight on May 13th. Germany’s national carrier Lufthansa will perform the first renewed flight between Frankfurt am Main and Vilnius. Lithuania’s largest airport is fully ready to resume passenger flights. The airport has implemented necessary health safety measures that are recommended by national health officials and international aviation organizations.

“From the start of the quarantine, Vilnius Airport never stopped operating. Throughout this crisis, we continued to handle cargo flights and prepare for the return of passenger operations. During this time, airplanes were also being maintained in the facilities present at our airport. Implementing the necessary health safety measures is now our main priority, so passengers arriving to the airport will see a different scene to the one they were used to. I want to highlight that all measures are taken for our travellers’ own safety”, - tells Dainius Čiuplys, Head of Vilnius Airport.

According to Mr. Čiuplys, the number of returning routes and passengers will all depend on various factors that are all linked to international restrictions set in place by multiple countries. Nevertheless, the first returning passenger flights show the first signs of aviation’s revival process.

Health safety measures

The main health safety measures at all Lithuanian Airports - in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga - will be related to passengers maintaining social distancing, managing passenger flows and reducing the probability of human contact. Passengers are reminded that adhering to these measures is also a matter of their own responsibility.

Only passengers who have successfully passed a thermal inspection will be allowed to enter the terminal building. All passengers will be required to present a valid flight ticket, and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) will be mandatory at all times. There will also be a possibility to purchase PPE at the airport.

Hand disinfection stations are placed in commonly used areas, whereas all surfaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected. Information on the recommended safety measures are both voiced though the airport’s audio system and shown on information screens. For now, a limited number of registration desks will be used which will be additionally secured using glass walls. All passengers waiting in line to register for a flight will be required to maintain a safe distance from each other.

Protective glass walls are also be erected in the aviation security screening checkpoint. There, hand disinfectants will be available for passengers, and all surfaces will be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Baggage trolleys and all other equipment used by passengers will be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Boxes used in aviation security screening will be disinfected after each use.

The number of seating places will be limited in the terminal building in order to maintain social distancing. Only every second seat will be in use.

Ground handling providers will be required to disinfect their busses after every flight. Also, passenger numbers will be controlled during bus journeys to the airplane.

With the resumption of passenger flights, some aviation security rules have been altered. Now, passengers will be able to carry as much as 500 ml of disinfectant liquid. This liquid will have to be carried in its original packaging which must contain the manufacturer’s label, in which it must be clearly stated that the liquid is indeed a disinfectant. This exception is only valid for disinfectant liquids; for all other liquids – existing rules apply. Passengers will not be allowed to bring liquids on an aircraft which exceed 70% alcohol concentration.

Passengers are advised to follow the recommendations of not only the airports, but also their air carriers.

Passengers are reminded that until current requirement is lifted, all passengers will be required to pass border control.

About Lithuanian Airports

The network of Lithuanian Airports comprises of three air gateways in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga. In 2019 they all served 6.5 million passengers and 62 thousand flights.

Lithuania's lockdown easing: wearing face masks no longer mandatory in open spaces

VILNIUS - The Lithuanian government on Wednesday further eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions: it will no longer be mandatory to wear face masks in open public spaces from Thursday, bars, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers indoors from next Monday, and students will start returning to classrooms in a week and a half.

Masks in open public spaces remain a recommendation, but not a requirement, except for places where people tend to crowd, such as open-air markets, public transport stops, events and excursions.

Wearing masks remains mandatory in closed spaces, except when eating and drinking in bars, cafes or restaurants, and during sports activities. 

People will be allowed to visit parks or other open public spaces in groups of up to five as long as they observe social distancing rules. Currently, groups of up to two people are allowed. The restriction does not apply to members of the same family.

These changes will take effect on Thursday. 

The Cabinet also allowed people legally residing in the Baltic countries and Poland to move freely in Lithuania. Previously, this only applied to the countries' citizens. 

It also allowed foreign journalists to arrive in Lithuania after receiving permission from the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.   

The movement-related changes will come into force on Friday. 

From Monday, food-serving businesses will be able to open their indoor seating areas. Currently, they are allowed to serve customers outdoors and provide take-away food services. 

Restaurants, cafes and bars as well as nightclubs and other entertainment venues are allowed to be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restriction does not apply to outdoor and food delivery services. Casinos and slot machine parlors are also permitted to operate during these hours.

The government also allowed schools to reopen. Primary school students will be able to return to classrooms from May 25, and others from June 1. 

Professional sports events without spectators will be permitted from May 30. 

Starting from May 30, both outdoor and indoor events with up to 30 attendees will be allowed, subject to the social distancing requirements. The same will apply to indoor and outdoor private gatherings. 

In an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 16 and was last extended until May 31.

Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said on Wednesday that the lockdown would likely be extended beyond May 31 and remain in place "for a long time".

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