Following a Health Board ban of the planned Rainbow Gathering 'hippie' festival in Antsla Municipality, Võru County, the organizers of the event have moved the venue to forests near Hargla, Valga County. However, this camp may have to be abandoned as well.
A sign with the text "Welcome home" attached to a tree welcomes visitors next to a gravel road at Essemäe, near Taheva, in Valga County. The number plates of the cars parked nearby reveal that the people present in the area hail from several European countries and not just Estonia.
There were altogether about 40 people at the busy campsite when a reporter from daily Lõuna-Eesti Postimees visited the site. A second, smaller camp had been pitched at the Linnajärve campsite run by state forest management firm RMK, about one kilometer from the larger camp. About ten people were active at that site.
People at the camp told Lõuna-Eesti that they had been in the area for about a week. Most of them came there direct from the campsite near Antsla in Võru County, which they had to abandon by Thursday of last week. One man told the reporter that more and more people were arriving at the new campsite every day, most of them from abroad.
However, Valga County chief forester Risto Sepp, who was notified of the makeshift camp by a local resident last Sunday, said that the new camp has been set up in a state forest growing area and must relocate.
Sepp explained: "Here, in this specific area, young trees have been planted and a bonfire definitely cannot be lit here without permission from the landlord (i.e. the RMK-ed.)."
Sepp said that without permission, a camp was permitted to remain in place for 24 hours at most. When Sepp went to talk to the campers on Monday, he instructed them to pack up within 24 hours and move on to the Tellingumäe RMK camping area, a couple of kilometers away.
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 in the light of social distancing considerations.
The Health Board decided to ban the European Rainbow Gathering event held in Antsla, set to run a whole month, from July 20 to August 19 due to the threat of coronavirus and inadequate cleaning facilities.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste