Marriages and divorces in Tallinn not completely halted during pandemic

Tallinn Vital Statistics Office on Pärnu mnt. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Despite the emergency situation declared on March 12 bringing many activities to a halt, this does not seem to have affected the marriage rate to as great an extent thought early on in the crisis, at least in Tallinn.

Over 200 marriages were registered at the so-called Vital Statistics Office ( Tallinna perekonnaseisuamet) through the emergency situation, set to end on May 17, and on-site services were provided to a total of 1,602 people at the office's location on Pärnu mnt. Just over 70 divorces were registered over the same period.

Fears, or at least claims, that marriages would have ground to a halt and that the divorce rate would sky-rocket have thus not manifested, at least so far; though the former are well down on pre-pandemic rates, so area the latter.

Marriages roughly a third of pre-pandemic rate

As a comparison, 6,573 marriages were registered in Estonia for 2018, according to Statistics Estonia. Tallinn and the surrounding Harju County makes up about 47 percent of the Estonian population, so a very rough assumption, leaving out the general draw of the capital and the larger proportion of non-Estonian citizens resident there than in other parts of the country, might be that there were around 3,100 marriages in Tallinn in 2018, making about 60 weddings per week (again not factoring in seasonal variations etc.).

The emergency situation lasted, perhaps appropriately, perhaps not, nine-and-a-half weeks (March 12-May 17), so the rate of 217 marriages registered in Tallinn during that time makes about 23 marriages per week – in short, a little more than one third the "regular" rate noted above.

Divorces well down despite quarantine concerns

Divorces, thought by some to be likely to spike as a result of couples spending more time together under quarantine, number 71 at the Tallinn office.

Statistics Estonia cites a divorce rate of 2.42 per 1,000 population in 2018, which would make about 1,480 divorces in Harju County in 2018, again with the above caveats, or about 29 per week. Using the same time-frame for the emergency situation, in the normal run of things this could have led to about 276 divorces, so the reported rate is well down on that, at about 26 percent.

Naturally a reduced divorce rate could reflect issues of getting to the statistics office during the pandemic, rather than marital bliss under quarantine.

Karin Kask, the statistics' office's head, stressed that even as the emergency situation has run its course, safety remains a priority.

"As we provide services to a large number of people, we encourage people to continue to use e-channels to submit applications and communicate by phone or e-mail instead of direct contact. However, if necessary, people can also submit applications and carry out procedures related to vital statistics on site during our office hours," Kask said, according to BNS.

The 2+2 rule is still in place at the office, as it is elsewhere, Kask noted.

"Based on the recommendations of the Health Board, we can allow 10 people at a time into the building from Monday, but the 2+2 rule must still be followed. While during the emergency situation, marriages were concluded only with the participation of the couple and without guests, then from Monday, May 18, it will be possible to get married in the presence of up to 10 guests."

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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