Gallery: Ratas visits Saaremaa and Muhu after restrictions are lifted ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) visited the islands of Saaremaa and Muhu on Friday after restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) were lifted.

Ratas met with local government figures, entrepreneurs and staff members at Kuressaare Hospital on Saaremaa.

The prime minister said the crisis has been difficult for everyone but, in particular, the islanders of whom 26 people have died so far after contracting COVID-19.

"Although the difficulties are not over, now is the time to focus on the future and address social and economic challenges," said Ratas.

The state has allocated €1 million to support the tourism sector on the islands and €500,000 to micro and small enterprises. €1 million is planned to support the revenue base of local governments and €3 million for investments.

"Everyone can contribute to the relaunch of the economy. A good and easy way to do this is to holiday at home this summer and to consume Estonian products," the prime minister said.

Ratas said the islanders have shown a great sense of community throughout the crisis.

During the visit, Ratas met with Muhu rural municipality mayor Raido Liitmäe and council chairman Ain Saaremäel, Kuressaare Hospital board members Märt Kõll and Edward Laane, Entrepreneurs' Association board chairman Robert Pajusaar and Margus Puusti and rural municipality mayor Madis Kallas, council chairman Tiiu Aro and Saare crisis committee.

While he was in Saaremaa Ratas also spoke on the phone with the Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

For several weeks Saaremaa was the epicenter of Estonia's COVID-19 outbreak and has diagnosed almost 550 cases of the disease. As of Friday, there were 1725 cases in Estonia in total.

Saare County, which includes Saaremaa and Muhu islands, has an approximate population of 33,000 and has a rate of 164.91 rate of infection per 10,000 people. In comparison, Harju County, which includes Tallinn, has a population of approximately 583,000 but a rate of 10.25 per 10,000.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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