Predictions that the world will never be the same again, post-COVID 19, are over-egging it, journalists Taavi Eilat, Huko Aaspõllu and Neeme Korv find, since the public generally wants to maintain the same lifestyle after crises, as past episodes have demonstrated.
The three were talking on Saturday's edition of Vikerradio discussion show "Rahva teenrid", and concurred that despite a recent spike in cases following Tuesday's zero reported COVID-19 new cases, there is no real threat – a stance mirrored by taking a look on the streets of Estonia's towns and cities.
Even in Kuressaare, the capital of Saaremaa, by far the worst-hit region during the pandemic, life is going on more-or-less as normal, ERR's Taavi Eilat observed.
"I was in Kuressaare and, to put it mildly, I was surprised that where there was a big pocket [of infections], there are no masks on display, in some shops, no disinfectants. Things are taken quite freely and easily," Eilat said.
Neeme Korv of business daily Äripäev agreed: "If we look at the street picture and what is happening in Estonia, then life actually goes and goes on in such a way that if in the meantime we had tended to discuss what new normalcy is coming, and what people want, then we definitely see one thing: People want to live and act – and this was evidenced by the traffic jams that have been occurring in Tallinn during rush hour – in line with the usual, old rhythm," he said.
Huko Aaspõllu of ERR said that when he hears anyone say that the world will never be the same again, he tends to take it with a grain of salt.
"People want the world to be the same as it was; people want to live as they always have done. When we think of bigger things like 9/11, everyone said that aviation would never be the same again. It wasn't the same – for maybe a few months, then it got back to normal. Granted, with some small nuances – up to now we've had to run somewhat of a gauntlet to get on the plane, but essentially nothing has changed," he said.
Living with this or other viruses will be inevitable, but it has been the case all along, Korv said.
"If we take it with this in mind, we are used to similar things in Estonia. I know what Lyme disease means for the the islands. It has been said for years that a vaccine was being developed somewhere in the Czech Republic or America. So, we buy repellent with a picture of a tick on it from the store and spray it on our feet in the hope it will work. But every year, hundreds of cases of this very dangerous disease are diagnosed in Estonia."
According to Huko Aaspõllu, the slight increase in cases of infections, and an outbreak in one company premises near Tallinn, need not mean we need to start isolating ourselves at home again
"We have had one case where the virus has started to spread within a work team. Nor will the disease go away, there will be more – a third, sixth example. But we need to keep going to work. We can't stay home indefinitely and work remotely, because there are many things which society needs," he said.
Taavi Eilat noted that the Latvian capital Riga was a lot quieter than Tallinn now
According to him, the situation with the southern neighbors is quite different. "Having been to Riga, the situation in Riga is much worse.
"You go as a pair, and at the door they immediately try to ascertain if you are family or not. You can be turned away from the door accordingly. But only Estonians can be seen in the [Tallinn] cityscape, as we are so used to seeing Finns around the Old Town," he said.
The original "Rahva teenrid" broadcast (in Estonian) is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte