Prime minister: New coronavirus situation analysis due early next week ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on Thursday's
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on Thursday's "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) says that an expert assessment is due on his government's desk early next week, which will explore the impact, spread and possible duration of COVID-19 coronavirus in Estonia.

Appearing on ETV political discussion show "Esimene stuudio", Ratas said that the government's crisis committee has set up a working party of virologists and other scientists for the task.

"The report covers what this coronavirus can mean for Estonia and how long it will last here, and we should receive its final findings early next week," Ratas said.

The prime minister added the first indications for ending the state of emergency, currently set to May 1, would be a downturn in the number of cases.

"When we see the number of infections, the angle of attack of rising infections, start to fall, then these are the first indications where we can say that the situation is going to get better. Only then can we come up with very strong help through their economic package, "said Ratas.

The government announced two billion-euro economic rescue package on Thursday; Ratas said another was on the horizon.

"It (the recent package-ed.) comprises about 7 percent of Estonia's GDP. But that means we're going to bring another economic package to the table in the coming months, because both have to be reflected in the supplementary budget, and today we launched a supplementary budget process," Ratas said.

The prime minister noted that even this might not be sufficient to fight the economic effects of the virus.

"I think that is not enough, I think we need to stimulate the economy further still. Support from local authorities is certainly important, public investment is also important, and also certain regional investments and projects," he said.

"It is clear that the economic forecasts for this year are no longer valid, and for sure tax receipts have gone down a lot. Right now we are waiting for the spring economic forecast from the Ministry of Finance, which should hit our desks on April 3," Ratas added.

Ratas said the government would also start discussing leasing agreements and home loans.

"It is our desire to do everything in this crisis to ensure people do not lose their homes. For this, we will not go for cuts in the first instance, but implement public investment which gives people jobs and bread on the table," he said.

Civil service salary rises: Donations to show solidarity

On April 1, salaries of senior civil servants are increase. Ratas noted that he plans to show solidarity with the people of Estonia and make donations from his salary rise (a move which president Kersti Kaljulaid has also made-ed.).

Ratas also said states have not overreacted to restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus spread.

With regard to purchasing personal protective equipment, Ratas pointed to these issues, particularly regarding supply, as states close their borders as a preventive measure.

"At present, we have a very big problem with Poland, especially at the Polish-German border. We have also repeatedly stressed to our colleagues that borders must remain open to goods and medical supplies. Poland did not act as promised and that is a big problem for us," he said, referring to the recent incident where dozens of Estonian citizens were unable to take up a promised escorted convoy across Poland to the Lithuanian border. Ratas said that these developments had also been a major lesson for the EU.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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