Latvia's small businesses fight for survival as pandemic rages

Source: Xinhua| 2020-11-27 01:30:30|Editor: huaxia
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Rasma Puspure(R), a self-employed designer and artist, gives a practical training lecture at the Art Academy of Latvia in Riga, Latvia, Nov. 24, 2020. Rasma Puspure, a self-employed designer and artist, specializes in making exquisite pieces of jewelry at a workshop she shares with two other colleagues. Puspure also serves as a lecturer in jewelry design at the Art Academy of Latvia. (Photo by Edijs Palens/Xinhua)

RIGA, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The second wave of coronavirus has hit Latvia hard in recent months and has left several small businesses and self-employed people scrambling to survive. However, a few of them have proven resilient and lucky enough to stay afloat amid the global calamity.

Rasma Puspure, a self-employed designer and artist, specializes in making exquisite pieces of jewelry at a workshop she shares with two other colleagues.

"In the spring, during the first COVID-19 wave, there was more work," Puspure said, adding that by now people have become more cautious and spend their money more prudently.

Since the jewelry she makes is fairly expensive, Puspure's clients are mainly well-off people, whose financial situation has remained comparatively stable even during the economic crisis. "They can still afford to buy my jewelry," she said.

Although now based in Riga, the capital city, Puspure hails from the eastern Latvian municipality of Gulbene.

Alongside her workshop, Puspure also works at the Art Academy of Latvia, where she is a lecturer in jewelry design.

Asked about the COVID-19 restrictions, which have forced most higher education institutions to switch almost completely to distance learning, Puspure said she continued to teach small groups of up to five people at the academy's workshop.

"You cannot really teach how to make jewelry remotely," she explained, adding that all her students wear face masks and follow the other precautionary measures. "Keeping the two-meter distance is impossible though," she admitted.

The Latvian government's recent coronavirus-related restrictions have forced small businesses to shut down and self-employed people to stop working. However, the restrictions are expected to become only harsher and the nationwide state of emergency will be expanded beyond the original Dec. 6 deadline, local media reported.

Health Minister Ilze Vinkele described the situation as "very, very serious," as another record 898 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Latvia on Thursday and four more patients succumbed to the disease.

The minister told a news conference that the health system, the hospitals and the medical staff are close to being overwhelmed.

New and tougher rules, which come into effect this Friday, are expected to substantially restrict educational and business activities in Latvia's 12 most affected municipalities. "If the situation does not stabilize, harsher restrictions will have to be applied in all of Latvia," Vinkele said.

The country's total COVID-19 caseload has grown to 15,171 and the disease has killed 188 people. There are currently 12,403 active COVID-19 cases in the country, according to Latvia's Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including Germany, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 12, there were 212 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 48 of them were in clinical trials. Enditem

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