Ministers agree on seven metrics for exiting emergency situation

A closed off public ping-pong table in Tallinn.
A closed off public ping-pong table in Tallinn. Source: ERR

Ministers involved with handling the coronavirus crisis in Estonia are in the process of discussing a strategy with which to exit the emergency situation first implemented on March 12.

On Wednesday morning, the ministers, led by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), the person in charge of the emergency situation, were slated to discuss an exit strategy drawn up within the Strategy Unit of the Government Office, but ended up stuck on the question of what the metrics are according to which anyone can start discussing the loosening and later lifting of emergency situation-related restrictions.

A total of seven such metrics were agreed to be vital:

1. The overall number of known infections

2. The number of hospitalized infected persons

3. The number of infected persons on ventilators

These are three metrics for the coronavirus (COVID-19) whose stable downward trend are of utmost importance in the launch of an exit strategy.

4. The situation with scheduled treatment, i.e. waiting lists for regular patients' treatment in hospitals reaching an unclear critical limit

5. The capability of measures of confidence, i.e. existence of personal protective equipment (PPE) and visible preparedness for deterrence of next possible wave of the virus

6. The state of the economy, including the unemployment rate — an indicator which must more precisely be agreed upon by Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) and Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center)

7. The people's mental preparedness in withstanding restrictions — current polls indicate support for the emergency situation and restrictions, but this may not last

It is possible that the government's so-called coronacommittee will begin discussing a strategy for exiting the emergency situation as soon as Friday already, meaning a step-by-step loosening or dropping of restrictions.

Ossinovski: We've had weeks to draw up strategy

The government is not yet prepared to introduce a strategy document to the public. Social Democrat (SDE) Jevgeni Ossinovski, however, believes that this needs to be done quickly.

"The strategy was initially meant to be finished by yesterday," Ossinovski told ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera." "From what I understood of the prime minister's answers, it is not currently quality enough to present it publicly. I feel as though the government has ended up stuck enjoying themselves somewhat in this context. It has been possible to use caution and get a strategy in place for several weeks."

The government will discuss the strategy again on Friday morning, and Ratas hopes that the document in question can be discussed with the public within the next two weeks.

"It is important for me to discuss this exit strategy with various interest groups, but the workpiece needs to be ready first," he said.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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