The Mayor of Tallinn and the police said on Wednesday that despite repeated calls to avoid visiting the bronze soldier in the Defence Forces Cemetery on Saturday due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus, it is expected that some people will still make the journey to lay flowers.
Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart said while the emergency situation restrictions are being relaxed, people are starting to feel that the emergency situation has ended and this is why visitors to the cemetery are expected on Saturday.
"I have to admit that last week I was more optimistic than this week. Then the general perception at the beginning of the week was a little different than it is now. Unfortunately, many people now think that the emergency is over." he said.
He estimates only a couple of dozen people may attend with a maximum of a couple of hundred people but if the majority stay away the goal has been acheived.
"However, as far as I know, there is a common understanding that it is not right to go there in the current situation. This message is now being spread by everyone, including those directly involved - veterans, opinion leaders, the city is talking about it. We all now have the opportunity to show solidarity in society - that it is important for everyone that people do not come," he said.
He added that, in his opinion, Estonian society is already "mature enough" to do so. He said officials, such as the police, must be ready to enforce the emergency situation restrictions if people do attend.
Chief of the North Prefecture of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board Kristian Jaani, said on Wednesday that the police will cooperate with the municipal police and the Health Board before during May 9.
"It is more than certain that people will come to the cemetery and bring flowers. It is important that the 2 + 2 rule must be adhered to," said Jaani.
He said the organizers have already "double canceled" the event planned for May 9 and called on people not to go to the cemetery this year. However, this is unlikely to keep everyone away.
Jaani said it is expected that people belonging to risk groups, especially older people, will still go to the bronze soldier on Saturday.
Kõlvart, is inviting people to stay home on May 9 rather than gather in public and donate to charity to express their respect.
In Tallinn, on May 9, people gather at The Bronze Soldier or the Monument to the Fallen in the Second World War at the Defence Forces Cemetery. The date is known as Victory Day and is celebrated in Russia, and other countries which were formerly part of the Soviet Union. It is a holiday that commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.
This year, mass gathering are not permitted under the restrictions imposed by the emergency situation which is due to last until May 17 to limit the spread of coronavirus.
On March 25, a public candle lighting to remember the mass deportations of Estonians who were deported to Siberia in 1949 was canceled due to the emergency situation measures which ban gatherings of more than two people.
Instead, NGOs asked people were asked to light candles and place them in the windows of their homes.
Editor: Helen Wright