Police and Defense League get to work on Saaremaa coronavirus patrols

A PPA patrol (picture is illustrative).
A PPA patrol (picture is illustrative). Source: PPA

Heightened Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) patrols, augmented by volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) personnel have been going ahead on Saaremaa, the region of Estonia most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Three times the number of patrols have been conducted, starting Monday; the PPA says the main focus is checking adherence to the "2+2" rule – limiting public gatherings to two people (families excepted) and maintaining a 2-meter distance between others – though the personnel also communicate and monitor movement restrictions on those in quarantine, using Health Board (Terviseamet) data, according to a report on ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera".

"As of now, the case is that we drive around, and when we encounter an individual, we talk to them, ask them where they are going and what their planned movements are. If all is in order with the restrictions, the order, we wish them a good journey," said Saaremaa PPA department chief Rainer Antsaar.

Antsaar noted that gatherings were still happening, sometimes unintentionally.

"Individuals are still congregating in and around stores. People encounter each other and they need to give their impressions of what has been happening in the world. Usually, these conversations accumulate more participants, and then the 2 + 2 principle is not respected. In these types of situation, we have to react. We have had three or four such cases, but otherwise it's generally been superb in keeping these additional movement restrictions in mind," he went on.

According to a report on ERR's online news in Estonian, the PPA can also monitor phone calls, and has been doing so in order to check quarantine restrictions are being followed. 163 infringements had been reported nationwide as at Tuesday morning.

Saaremaa has 258 cases of coronavirus confirmed as of Tuesday morning, according to Health Board data, and has by far the highest per capita incidence of the virus – at 77.93 per 10,000 in the country, compared with 3.89 per 10,000 in Harju County.

Restrictions on the island, and the adjacent island of Muhu, are stricter than in the rest of the country and include mandatory carrying of ID when leaving the house, with fines of up to €2,000 possible in the case of infringements.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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