Helme: Restrictions will continue in May and June
Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) said restrictions introduced for the emergency situation will continue for May and June. Discussions on the restrictions for the second half of the summer are ongoing and an exit strategy is being discussed.
"In a situation where our picture is not clear and ignorance is great, we must err on the side of caution," Helme said at the government's press conference which was also attended by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu on Thursday afternoon.
Helme emphasized that Estonia has largely been left out of the pandemic and, compared to other countries where the virus has had a far larger impact, Estonia is in a good situation. The previously forecast worst-case scenario did not turn into reality and the number of deaths in the country is relatively low.
However, restrictions and measures have not yet been eased, and the state must continue with strict restrictions in order to avoid scenarios which have occurred in other countries, he said.
"We do not intend to experiment," said Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), adding that the main starting point for the exit strategy from the crisis is a comparative analysis with what is happening in other countries.
Reinsalu said it is also necessary to discuss the strategy of restoring international traffic, and if the borders are opened, measures are needed to limit the virus spreading due to travel. He said these measures will be discussed next week.
If an official decision is made to extend restrictions it will be announced by the government office and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who is in charge of the emergency situation. The emergency situation and its restrictions are currently due to last until May 1 but are reviewed every two weeks.
Mass events should not be held this summer
It is not conceivable to hold mass events in the coming months, said Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on Thursday, but the discussion is still ongoing and no decision has been made.
Ratas said at a government press conference on Thursday that the cancellation of major summer events is being discussed in the government, but no firm decision has been made at the moment.
"The debate is halfway through at the moment, the message must be delivered as soon as possible. The feeling of the government today is that it is not conceivable to hold big events in the coming months, speaking of May and June," Ratas said.
Martin Helme said there is also a discussion about what should be considered a major event. The discussions are based on objective numbers and trends, which help to analyze the trend, in the long run, every day.
Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) joked that Midsummer's Day will not be missed in the country, and due to the emergency situation, there would be more Midsummer fires in Estonia than ever before.
"According to the current rules, there will be at least one campfire per two people [a reference to the 2+2 rule - ed.]. Midsummer night will be very powerful, full of lights," said Reinsalu.
Virologist Professor Irja Lutsar, a member of the government's Scientific Council which advises on the effects of the coronavirus, said last week she believed mass events should not be held in the summer months.
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Editor: Helen Wright