Government coronavirus commission unveils exit strategy plan ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Places set out at a government Cabinet meeting. Photo is illustrative.
Places set out at a government Cabinet meeting. Photo is illustrative. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

The government coronavirus commission has published its pandemic exit strategy plan, ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Wednesday evening. The plan has to meet with government approval, and will be presented before the Riigikou before it is adopted.

The exit strategy has divided the pandemic into three stages: 1) Outbreak escalation, 2) stabilization of medical indicators, at which time it is possible to start pulling back from established restrictions step-by-step , and 3) Return to normal life, including adequate preparation for potential future outbreaks.

Estonia is currently at stage 2), the government says.

There are also several exit strategy key indicators to be considered as the restrictions start to be stepped down:

  • number of infected persons per day as a percentage of all tested;
  • number of infected individuals aged over 50;
  • number of COVID-19 patients in hospital;
  • coverage of COVID-19 intensive care units (number of beds, per day);
  • access to medical care;
  • public willingness to follow government guidelines and established measures;
  • the general health of the economy;
  • epidemiological situation and measures against COVID-19 within the region, EU Member States and third countries;
  • capacity to implement confidence building measures.

The plan is to be submitted to the Riigikogu and other strategic partners for proposals, with the government set to approve the strategy following discussions, early next week.

The order of the first lifting of restrictions will be:

  • gradual recommencing of planned hospital treatments (process has already begun);
  • opening museums, extra-curricular or "hobby" education centers and outdoor sports training;
  • opening a limited number of shops and other services in shopping malls;
  • schools may open on May 15 to enable high school students to prepare for exams and students that need it receive support.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said the aim of the exit strategy is to define the principles and stages in easing restrictions and next steps, so that developments caused by the pandemic can be scientifically monitored in the country and responded to appropriately.

Prime minister: Easing restrictions will lead to small rise in coronavirus infection rates

Jüri Ratas said that easing the restrictions would inevitably lead to a slight increase in the number of people infected with the virus, making it all the more important that citizens and residents continue to follow hygiene rules and adhere to the 2 + 2 rule, as well as use protective equipment like masks and disinfectant.

Lifting the restrictions is contingent on key indicators being met, it is reported.

The exit strategy was developed by a planning group led by the State Chancellery in cooperation with the government commission, the COVID-19 scientific council and experts in various fields.

The recent reduction in the number of new infections confirms, according to the COVID-19 scientific council, that the restrictions imposed have worked and thus can be relaxed with caution. 

The prime minister has said that this would be done step-by-step to avoid a new wave of infections hitting the country.

The government committee is to review the easing of restrictions in cooperation with scientists and experts, on a weekly basis.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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