Health Board to discuss South Estonian Rally future on Thursday

Ott Tänak.
Ott Tänak. Source: Henri Rump

On Thursday, government and the Health Board (Terviseamet) is to meet to discuss restrictive measures for the South Estonian Rally, scheduled for August 22-23. Organizers of the event announced on Wednesday that there are currently no measures set and it will take place at full capacity.

The rally is not to be confused with the full WRC Rally Estonia due to take place two weeks later.

Due to an increased risk of COVID-19 infection, organizers of the event have been in constant communication with the Health Board, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and local municipality governments to adhere to recommendations on how to hold the rally event safely.

South Estonian Rally organizers have agreed with the Health Board to limit spectator capacity to 6,000 people sufficient distancing ensured.

The sale of rally passes will begin on August 17, exclusively at Olerex gas stations. The price of a pass for Sunday's rounds costs €20, and a separate €10 ticket must be bought to gain access to Saturday's rally round. The Võru city stage of the event is free.

Organizers are calling on spectators to use personal protective equipment and also recommend following the 2+2 rule, therefore ensuring safety for themselves and to others as coronavirus rates start to rise in Estonia.

Gabriel Müürsepp, director for South Estonian Rally, said the priority is to ensure safety. "We've been in contact with the Health Board, the PPA, and the city of Võru, to ensure maximum safety for everyone involved. Currently there are no restrictions set and we've agreed that 6,000 spectators will be allowed."

He added that the organizers are also in contact with World Rally Championship teams but did not give any further details. "Our adminstrative team is communicationg with competitors who want to participate from abroad. We've emphasized that they are required to follow the requirements set in Estonia."

The start of the South Estonian Rally is scheduled for August 22 at 6.11 p.m. in Võru. A total of 11 stages will be held over two days, with a city stage in the town itself.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said on Tuesday that discussions at the next regular government meeting may take on a different tone, due to the number of new coronavirus cases rising, and examples emerging of members of the public behaving irresponsibly while infected with the virus.

"The tone of the discussion may change at Thursday's sitting," he said. The prime minister pointed out that as of July 31, Estonia's infection rate was 2.6 while at the start of July the indicator stood at 1.0.

After recent outbreaks in Estonia, spectator capacity and other factors of the currently planned restriction-relaxed events of South Estonian Rally (August 22-23) and WRC Rally Estonia (September 4-6) are in jeopardy, with Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) announcing on Wednesday the coming weeks will be decisive in Estonia's possible re-establishment of restrictions.

Rally Estonia, which will be the first-ever WRC event in Estonia, will bring a host of top rally drivers to Estonia, including Welsh driver Elfyn Evans, who is already in Estonia getting familiarized with South Estonian roads.

Many of the drivers, including series leader Sebastian Ogier, come from countries whose arrivals at present require a two-week self-quarantine period.

Most spectators are thought to come from neighboring states whose rates do not put them at risk, at present, including Latvia and Finland, as well as Estonia itself.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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