The society in Latvia can be characterised as multiethnic and multicultural, where a large proportion of inhabitants don’t use the official language as their primary one. The communication measures implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic provide an excellent opportunity to research the intercultural crisis communication in Latvia.
The present study has been developed within the project “Improving Communication with Migrants for Crisis Preparedness: Lessons Learned From COVID-19”, which covers Estonia, Finland and Latvia. The study focuses on effective translation practices and policies, which can provide a quick response to the Covid-19 crisis and future emergency situations in disseminating relevant information among migrant communities.
The study shows that there were several flaws in the way government addressed communication with linguistic minorities and foreigners in Latvia. Even though there was a consensus by the public administration that information should be provided in three languages – Latvian, Russian and English -, resources were not always available to provide translations promptly, especially in the beginning of pandemic. Moreover, human and financial resources were not sufficient for Covid-19 related communication activities in Latvia generally, indicating that the government did not fully understand the importance of efficient communication measures in the times of crisis. Translations and adjustments of official information in media, non-governmental, business and academic sectors were done by these organisations themselves, as they needed to provide information in their communication channels immediately.
At the same time, several good practices and recommendations have been identified in this research, which can serve as a basis for future emergency situations in order to disseminate relevant information among migrant communities. Experience gained during the Covid-19 pandemic creates a good foundation for more efficient communication activities in future crisis.