Health Board puts ban on Antsla 'hippie festival' ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The town center of Antsla
The town center of Antsla Source: Henry-Laur Allik / ERR

The Health Board will test every attendee of the 'hippie festival' in Antsla Municipality, Võru County for coronavirus and demands the event be canceled.

On July 17, the representatives of Antsla Municipality, the Health Board (Terviseamet), the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and other authorities met in connection to a month-long 'hippie' festival. The municipality was given the recommendation to cancel the festival. 

The Health Board decided to ban the European Rainbow Gathering event held in Antsla from July 20 to August 19. The reason behind the banning is to protect the lives and health of the participants of the gathering. In addition to these aspects, it is important to ensure that coronavirus is not spread. 

The Health Board told ERR the organizer of the event has been informed about the ban. The authorities will check and test every participant for COVID-19. The authorities also believe that some of the participants are from countries where the coronavirus infection rate is very high. 

Eike Kingsepp, the spokesperson of the Health Board, said as far as they are aware, there are people from Portugal who should have stayed in quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Estonia but have not quarantined. 

Tiia Luht, head of the Southern Region of the Health Board, added it is forbidden for people from high-risk countries to go to an event when they are required to self-isolation due to COVID-19. 

Luht said they do not have access to running water. She added: "The lack of soap and running water and other hand washing facilities are one of the main platforms or aspects where the spread of various infectious diseases is high. The use of substandard outdoor toilets and close human contacts are included." 

Compliance with the ban will be monitored by both the Health Board and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) who are acting based on a request for professional assistance. 

Kurmet Müürsepp, the deputy mayor of Antsla Municipality, said the municipality will provide accommodation for the festival attendees which are on the premises of the municipality. He added: "We keep in touch with the Health Board and PPA and we support their decision." 

Antsla municipality and the Health Board wanted to ban the event even before it started. The organizer of the event took part in the meeting last Friday by phone. 

The Health Board, the municipality and other authorities agree that safe conditions have not been created for the event. The Antsla municipality government met on the evening of July 17 and issued an order that the organizing the Rainbow Festival is not allowed in this form. The Health Board handed over the decision to ban the event to the head organizer on July 20. 

During the meeting on Monday, it was stated in the invitation of the hippie festival that the organizers planned to rent a private property for a month in Antsla municipality among other things, including the use of soap, shampoo and toothpaste was prohibited as it is contrary to the principles of the camp. 

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Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein

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