Ratas: Lifting lockdown on islands may be brought forward

Two of Estonia's ferries, the Piret and Tõll.
Two of Estonia's ferries, the Piret and Tõll. Source: TS Laevad

The government's emergency management committee will discuss on Thursday whether or not to lift movement restrictions concerning the western islands already before May 18, which is when the lifting would take place under current plans, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said on Thursday.

Ratas (Center) said that of the people tested so far 0.44 percent have been infected, which once again shows that people have been following the rules and the restrictions have worked. The same has been said also by the advisory scientific council.

He said the government committee will on Thursday review the conditions concerning the full opening of the islands. 

He pointed out registering an address on the islands as a person's place of residence and registering an island address as an additional address have increased significantly in Estonia recently, which means many people have created the possibility for themselves to travel to the islands under current regulations.

"I understand that people wish to go to their properties and summer houses. However, the rationale is that those people would go to the islands now who are indeed registered residents there. However, it's true that also people can go there now who have quickly created this opportunity for themselves," Ratas said.

More than 2,500 people register additional address

Between March 13 and May 6, more than 2,500 people have registered as having an additional address on the islands, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

Of these, 1,257 people registered their additional addresses on Saaremaa, 339 on the adjacent island of Muhu, 822 on Hiiumaa and 78 on Vormsi. The more outlying islands of Kihnu and Ruhnu had seen 16 and seven newly-regsitered addresses respectively, the interior ministry told ERR.

All of this had made the work of the Police and Border Guard Board at the seaports senseless and ridiculous, Ratas said.

"We will examine that in our committee today, and I believe that maintaining the restriction until May 18 is not warranted," Ratas said. 

"Please, dear people of Estonia, let us behave very responsibly -- the rules are there not for being bypassed and for permissible solutions to be found, but to do everything in order to exit the virus outbreak well," Ratas said. 

Under current regulations, there are no restrictions on movement to and from the islands for people who are either registered residents of an island or who have a secondary address on the island.

Under a previous ruling of the government, restrictions on travel to and from the islands would be lifted from May 18. Since mid-March only people registered as living or work on the islands have been allowed to visit during the emergency situation.

Those with a registered address on Estonia's western islands have been able to move back and forth between them and the mainland since Monday.


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Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte

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