Jõelähtme Municipality Mayor Andrus Umboja said the weekend passed calmly after new restrictions were introduced which limited non-essential vehicles to combat crowds flocking to beauty spots. There were still some smaller violations.
Last week the municipality introduced restrictions stopping visitors from being able to visit Jägala Waterfall, which had seen big crowds gathering in the warm weather during the previous weekend. The ban does not apply to local residents and service vehicles.
Speaking on Vikerraadio on Monday morning, Umboja said: "On Sunday, April 13, the weather played its part. During the previous days, the contribution of the media had been big enough that there were no big crowds moving and the individual people who were lost or maybe came to try [their luck] were instructed by the rescue and police patrols. There weren't many problems."
Umboja said the police, voluntary rescuers and environmental inspection and cooperating to patrol the area.
"I´m not sure whether the police would have issued fines but there were smaller violators who tried to drive to the Jägala Waterfall," Umboja said. He added he had also been to check on the situation and issue instructions to people.
"Just a month ago, we wouldn't have wanted to dream in our worst nightmares that something like this would have to be organized, to install prohibition signs to forbid people to come to these scenic places. But the situation fell out of our hands," Umboja said explaining the restrictions and giving examples of people not being able to drive out of their gardens because people had parked their cars outside the gardens. "Locals started to claim that they weren't feeling safe."
It should be noted that restrictions haven't been set to people but to cars. "We actually have several places you can come with your car, park it and then walk. The idea was to disperse the concentration to the places where people live close together, so that not many people with cars would come there, but that they would move around in slightly wider areas."
Regarding the legal basis, Umboja marked that the traffic is regulated on the basis of traffic rules and that the emergency situation conditions different understandings and solutions.
Restrictions are currently agreed on with the Road Administration during the emergency situation until May 1. "We will keep the signs for an as short amount of time as possible. It is possible that within a week, if there is not so much movement, they can be alleviated."
Last week, Jõelähtme Municipality installed signs prohibiting entry at the intersection of Koogi road and Jägala-Joa road. In addition, the roads in the village of Kaberneeme in the direction of the center and in the direction of the Neeme peak were closed. Prohibition signs were placed at the intersection of Kaberneeme and the intersection of Ihasalu and Tanuma road.
The purpose of the traffic restrictions is to reduce mass gatherings and the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the rural municipality. Traffic restrictions have been coordinated with the Road Administration and the police.
The village of Käsmu, which is a popular tourist destination, also set similar restrictions.
Editor: Roberta Vaino