Organizers of Rally Estonia promise to implement strict safety requirements

Rally Estonia
Rally Estonia Source: Karli Saul

Rally Estonia is planning to hand out thousands of masks, isolate foreign competitors and follow strict safety requirements when the event takes place in Tartu in September to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The organizers of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Tartu are not planning to ask for special terms from the government but are setting strict safety requirements, the head organizer of the Rally Estonia Urmo Aava told ERR. Ensuring people's safety will cost the organizers hundreds of thousands of euros.

Athletes from countries with a high number of coronavirus cases will have to stay in a two-week quarantine with their whole team, Aava said.

In addition, the organizers have planned to create isolated mobility corridors for the athletes coming from high risk countries and the audience is only expected to travel from nearby countries.

"If they are allowed to come, then first, they need to be tested in their destination and it has to be negative and then they need to be tested here and it needs to be negative. They will have a separate hotel and mobility channel and meeting with others will be limited," Aava said.

All in all, 16,000 spectators are expected to watch the rally stage and they will be divided into groups of 1,000.

The Health Board's communications manager Simmo Saar said it will be hard to ask spectators who have traveled from further away but enter Estonia from Finland and Latvia to self-isolate.

"People coming from high-risk countries will be required to self-isolate," he said. "If it's known that somebody is from this kind of a country [Latvia or Finland], then it's possible to ask them to self-isolate. But if there's no such information, they can't be obligated."

Audience tickets will be sent to parcel machines in the Baltic countries, which is why it is thought unlikely there will be lots of people traveling to the event from around Europe.

But some people have noticed a contradiction in the managing of public events in Estonia. The rally will bring thousands of people from abroad whereas the Hippie Festival in Antsla, Võru County was attended by only a few dozen but still closed down by the Health Board.

Saar explains that the preparation of the events should be compared.

"When a person comes to Estonia from a high-risk country, he is obliged to stay in a two-week quarantine. In the case of the festival, there was no way for participants to self-isolate and there wasn't a plan for the provision of medical care. And this event was supposed to last for a whole month. If we talk about the WRC, it lasts for a much shorter time period, people coming from risk countries will stay in self-isolation and infection control is being considered when organizing the event."

The Health Board believed several people from Portugal had attended the festival, which was closed down on Monday, without self-isolating for 14 days first.

The Health Board also does not exclude canceling the rally if the epidemiological situation worsens in Estonia.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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