Culture minister: Footballers, like other workers, must also self-isolate
In response to Thursday's canceled Europa League meeting between Nõmme Kalju and NŠ Mura, Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) said footballers, as with everyone else, must also self-isolate and stay home if they have been in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19.
ERR News wrote on August 27 that a meeting between Estonian football club Nõmme Kalju and Slovenian side NŠ Mura, scheduled to take place at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday, was canceled due to coronavirus risks, even though the Estonian Football Association (EJL) applied to the government for an extraordinary permission.
Lukas told ERR on Thursday: "Today, the question was not if the match will happen or not happen. To my knowledge, the event should still be active as of now (Thursday evening - ed.). The Health Board can only deal with player lists, meaning who can go to work and play and who cannot."
The cancellation stemmed from two players, one on each team, giving positive COVID-19 tests, therefore not allowing other players on either team to participate in the match due to self-isolation regulations.
Lukas noted: "The regulations clearly state that people who have been in close contact with someone infected [with COVID-19] can not go to work. The Health Board is dealing with individuals. The government certainly does not deal with individuals and the government had no decision to make today because we do not meddle in events happening or not.
"It would be better if the match happened, but the Health Board decides who can run out on the pitch. They are basing their actions off the rules that close contacts must remain in self-isolation [for 14 days] and they have no exemption if they are not healthcare workers."
The minister added the situation in question is not in any way connected to a government decision last week freeing top athletes from movement restrictions when entering the country. While the restriction is general, it is mostly directed at the coming WRC Rally Estonia round, set to take place on September 4-6.
Lukas added: "That decision does not matter in this situation, [the football match] is not related to travel but rather the self-isolation obligation of close contacts. If the Health Board has assessed that other players were in close contact with an infected teammate, it is the Health Board's right. No other state institution can change that."
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste