Original publication available at the China-CEE Institute website
In October, Latvia is facing increase in COVID-19 cases and biggest total daily number since its first wave. New COVID-19 restrictions are in place for travel and public places. External relations of Latvia in October were evolving around cooperation with its external partners to mitigate consequences of pandemic both by Latvia providing expertise and sharing the best practice, and learning from its allies and partners.
From now on travelers to Latvia must complete an electronic questionnaire
As of 12 October, all travelers to Latvia must complete an electronic questionnaire on the website covidpass.lv . Latvia imposed stricter restrictions in October regarding travelling abroad. It is not recommended to travel to or from countries with more than 61,9 new cases of Covid-19 per 100000 inhabitants over the course of the last two weeks. However, for the persons who travelled anyway, 10-day self-isolation must be observed after arriving in Latvia from those countries. Consequently, it is now possible to enter Latvia from countries with a lower infection rate than Latvia without the need for 10 days of self-isolation. The European countries that qualify for this are Greece, Norway, Estonia, Finland and Cyprus.
Citizens entering the Republic of Latvia up till 11 October at 23:59 had to fill in paper questionnaires, but as of 12 October, all persons crossing the border of the Republic of Latvia are required to fill in an electronic questionnaire on the covidpass.lv website. Completion of the contact information form is mandatory for all travelers, and it must be completed no earlier than 48 hours before crossing the Latvian border. After filling in the form certifying their contact information, the traveler will receive a QR code which is assigned to them personally and which also confirms that the information they submitted was received. The code is required for the transportation service providers, the State Health Inspectorate, the State Police, the Municipal Police, and the border guards to ascertain that the health safety restrictions are being observed. Registration with covidpass.lv is also compulsory if the person is crossing Latvia in transit.
Foreign Minister supports a coordinated approach and criteria in EU Member States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic
On 13 October 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the meeting of the European Union General Affairs Council in Luxembourg. EU Foreign Ministers discussed and adopted a recommendation to promote a coordinated approach by EU Member States as well as criteria in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Latvia highly supports the need for greater and closer coordination between EU Member States concerning national measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. By setting out common thresholds for the spread of the disease and criteria for travel restrictions, the recommendations will help avoid fragmentation and promote transparency and predictability for persons and businesses. At the meeting, the Commission presented its First Annual Report on the Rule of Law situation across the European Union, with a positive rating of Latvia’s efforts and achievements with regard to the fight with pandemic.
In a discussion on the EU’s external policy, the parties shared the view that the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the EU agenda, and that Germany, upon assuming the Presidency of the Council of the EU, was confronted with a number of serious challenges. Some of them are produced by the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic across the EU, including to the good functioning of the single market and the euro area. This has led to a growing consensus on the need for a common recovery plan complementing national stimulus package. 
Therefore, Latvia and participants welcomed the agreement between the EU’s heads of state and government on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework and the European Union Recovery Instrument. The European Commission has put forward a proposal to establish a €750 billion European Union recovery instrument, Next Generation EU (NGEU), on top of a revised 2021-2027 MFF worth €1.1 trillion. The financing of the instrument would come from funds borrowed on the markets by the Commission on behalf of the EU, while a mix of new and already planned instruments under the EU budget would channel expenditure, combining grants (€500 billion) and loans (€250 billion). 
Latvia stresses the importance of transatlantic partnership in addressing COVID-19 crisis
The crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the transatlantic partnership. In October, the Foreign Minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, underlined the vital importance of transatlantic unity and partnership for fight the COVID-19 crisis and pandemic consequences. 
The Latvian Foreign Minister noted that in particularly Canada is an important strategic partner to Latvia and the EU. Latvia encourages cooperation between Canada and Latvia, and also EU to Cooperation of the EU and Canada and joint acting can demonstrate to the rest of the world that democratic societies can recover from the pandemic in the most effective way and return most rapidly to economic growth. Europe, Canada and the United States of America are united by shared strategic goals, which include transatlantic security, and can jointly fight with the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Latvia is sharing the experience in digitalization of education with Central Asian countries to fight COVID-19 consequences
In Latvia, the digitalization of education has been one of the current issues on the agenda for several years, while the Covid-19 crisis especially emphasized the importance of digitization and innovation in ensuring a continuous and high-quality educational process. At the moment restrictions are put in force, that from 26 October to 30 October education for years 7-12 must be organized remotely.
The Ministry of Education and Science has organized the online conference “Promoting cooperation and exchange of experience between Europe and Central Asian countries on education digitalization issues” on 14-15 October.  The Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, took part in a conference; among other participants of the conference were EU Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian, as well as representatives from Lithuania, Estonia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the European Commission. The webinar was implemented with funding granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in accordance with Latvia’s Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2020 and its chapter, “The EU-Central Asia cooperation on education, including implementation of activities under the Central Asia Education Platform Project”.
The conference aimed to address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to national educational systems and to discuss experience with the further digitalization of educational processes and opportunities for strengthening cooperation with the Central Asian countries.
The discussion has pointed on the national challenges and solutions available to mitigate the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the role of digital transformation in education. At this point in time, when the world is facing challenges caused by COVID-19, Latvia’s priority is to ensure the accessibility of education. Digital tools make this possible, and Latvia has experience to share in the introduction of a number of different solutions to its Central Asia partners.
To sum up, external relations of Latvia in October were aimed at addressing of COVID-19 negative consequences. The Foreign Minister of Latvia participated in various meetings with its cooperation partners to develop common mitigation measures. Latvia strongly supports coordinated approach of EU in response to the coronavirus crisis to help to avoid fragmentation and promote transparency and predictability for persons and businesses.
Latvia is also looking forward stronger cooperation with its transatlantic partners, such as Canada, and encourage to stimulate joint action for faster recovery from pandemic negative impact.
In October Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also underlined Latvia’s readiness to further strengthen cooperation with Central Asian countries in sharing reform experience in education digitalization and held an online conference together with EU Special Representative for Central Asia and representatives of different countries. During the conference, the participants emphasized that in the current situation, the exchange of experiences on the digitalization of education between countries and regions is particularly important in helping to tackle challenges posed by COVID-19 and find more effective solutions to ensure the quality and accessibility of education for all.
 Covidpass.lv https://covidpass.lv/en/
 Website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/66728-the-state-secretary-discusses-the-eu-security-and-foreign-policy-issues-with-his-baltic-and-german-colleagues-in-riga
 European Union Recovery Instrument. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/legislative-train/theme-budgets-budg/file-european-union-recovery-instrument
 Website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/66791-at-the-meeting-of-the-baltic-and-canadian-foreign-ministers-edgars-rinkevics-underlines-the-importance-of-transatlantic-partnership-for-european-and-global-security
 Website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/66766-foreign-ministry-s-parliamentary-secretary-underlines-latvia-s-readiness-to-further-strengthen-cooperation-with-central-asian-countries-in-sharing-reform-experience
*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intellectual property of China-CEE institute