Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) says Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' suggestion of canceling events with over 100 attendees does not mean that movie theaters and theaters can't continue their usual schedules.
Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) noted that threat assessments are changing within hours, but cultural events happening according to the plan are at the moment considered a separate entity from competitions or conferences.
Basic health requirements need to be followed in movie theaters and theaters.
Ratas said in the government briefing on Wednesday, March 11 that events where more than 100 people are planning to participate should be canceled.
Lukas stated on his social media account that evening that Ratas didn't mean to say that the government, for example, couldn't gather in its entirety, or that theaters and cinemas couldn't continue their activity as planned.
"The cultural life in Estonia remains calm, and I hope that we will continue to enjoy performances, concerts and movie screenings. Organizers of international events should preferably postpone events; with smart actions, we can avoid the economic disaster," Lukas stated.
Tanel Kiik said in an interview on ETV's "Ringvaade" that when talking about cultural events taking place as planned, these can be considered separately from the application for a special permit for public events, as is the case with competitions or conferences.
"On the one hand, it is important to follow health requirements more broadly and in the other, we need to see whether it is reasonable to arrange the event or not," he said.
Given the risk of infection, it is harder to get performers to events these are not expected them from risk areas. Kiik added that as international events can cause difficulties and possible economic damage, these were a different case.
"They should be postponed to when times are calmer. The same goes for all possible events that don't need to happen right now, but that can take place in summer and autumn when the situation is better," he explained.
The Health Board itself has recommended international events be postponed; several have, including the annual Tallinn Music Week.
The social minister said that there was no reason to fear that the situation can transform to one of having to close cinemas, theatres and schools, though suggested caution and taking the situation seriously. Events that due to happen in the next couple of days should be foreseen, and it is important to take the necessary steps at the right time while at the same time, we shouldn't rush anything and cause unreasonable panic, Kiik said.
Jüri Ratas is making a political statement Thursday related to coronavirus and, according to Minister of Education Mailis Reps (Center), the Riigikogu is considering declaring an emergency situation.
According to Kiik, the spread of the virus is so rapid and threat assessments are changing withing hours. The parliament thus has to be ready to take operative steps. Decisions can be made on the basis of recent information and on March 12, the parliament is hearing the latest threat assessments and discussing what happens regarding different events, and additional measures with coping with the situation.
"To predict everything that will come to pass tomorrow is an unenviable task, because the situation is changing rapidly," Kiik said.
If the situation were to escalate, the Estonia health care system is ready for it, he added.
Editor: Roberta Vaino