Prime Minister: Estonia must be ready for coronavirus second wave

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The emergency situation in Estonia ended on May 18 as the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been confirmed to be in decline both by the govenrment's COVID-19 scientific council and the Estonian Health Board, the latter of which took the reins from the head of the emergency situation, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), on Monday.

Ratas was the head of the emergency situation (eriolukord), the Health Board will be in charge of the following emergency (hädaolukord).

"We have to be ready fo a second wave. There's no room for emotions. Estonia must be ready for a second wave, we have to take it into consideration. Readiness encompasses different areas of life, different subjects and we are preparing for it," the Prime Minister said to ERR's Toomas Sildam on Sunday.

"The people of Estonia have done a very good job. That we have made it this far and can say that May 17, 2020 is the last day of the emergency situation - hopefully for as long as possible - is a sign of how people have complied with certain rules and measures, they have assumed personal responsibility. It also proves that our frontline workers have endured."

"I very much hope that we can return to normality step-by-step, even though some rules remain. But the fact that people are tired, that they want to enjoy spring and approaching summer, is understandable. At the same time, we know that this virus has not disappeared," the Prime Minister added.

Ratas said that Estonia has asked Finland to join the so-called Baltic Schengen zone to ensure free movement between the neighbouring countries. "This has been our position at all times - to look this [Baltic-Finnish -ed.] area as a whole if the epidemiological situation improves. Estonia has shown great initiative while interacting with other countries. The opening of the Baltic borders from Friday proves that the states trust each other and as we could on Thursday ease many restrictions regarding transport between Estonia and Finland, it also suggests we have a cordial relationship," the Prime Minister said.

Ratas added that the government has currently decided to bar entry for all people except citizens of Baltic states, work commuters between Estonia and Finland, transporters of goods and diplomats, who are able to move freely.

"For me and I believe, for the whole government, the priority has been the life and health of people. Of course we have always looked at economic recovery and the relaunching of airlines is one of the triggers for economic restart. True, we can do this only when we see that the infection rate or the number of infected people is declining in these other countries," Ratas said.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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