Journalists: Service sector still hit after coronavirus crisis passes

Tourists in Tallinn's Old Town during healthier times.
Tourists in Tallinn's Old Town during healthier times. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The service sector in Estonia is likely to continue to be hit, even after the peak of the coronavirus pandemic passes and the weather gets warmer, ERR journalists said on Vikerraadio's "Rahva teenrid" show Saturday.

"There is a very high probability that we have too many hotels in Estonia as of now, and if we start keeping these alive with public money, we will actually run out," said ERR journalist Huko Aaspõllu.

"When 50 percent of hotel places not being used, it would be wise to let those hotels go bankrupt and engage in some other revenue-generating business, to put people elsewhere. But we also have to prevent businesses that will be successful in half a year from now from going bankrupt," Aaspõllu added.

Presenter Taavi Eilat, outlined the government's announcement of a €22 billion economic aid package announced this week to combat coronavirus effects, adding that, from an entrepreneurial perspective, this might help to cover a major downturn, but is certainly not a definitive solution.

"Any kind of prediction in the current situation is in the tea leaves," said Neeme Kõrv, of business daily Äripäev.

"However, this does not mean that analyses should not be carried out, because if we take action, we want to see how those measures work."

Job losses could total 65,000

According to a quick analysis from the Äripäev info bank, 65,000 people could lose their jobs in the aftermath of the current emergency.

"When we are out in a rainstorm, it doesn't make sense to dry our clothes, but rather to look at how to k take care of our umbrella," Aaspõllu added.

The panelists also discussed coronavirus testing capacity in Estonia and elsewhere in the world, finding that although testing capacity in Estonia is still low, it could be improved.

"A large part of the cost of the test, is simply the cost of actually taking the test. I would still consider testing at home," Aaspõõlu said, noting that testing at home was not particularly complicated and could work out cheaper.

However, Eilat noted, after testing at home, people might gain too much confidence that they are and will continue to be healthy, although the disease may later manifest.

"The infection can come a day after the test is done," said Eilat.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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