In case you missed it: August 22-28

Hundreds of people gathered to form a human chain in Tallinn to support Belarusians.
Hundreds of people gathered to form a human chain in Tallinn to support Belarusians. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

With readers often having hectic lifestyles, it can be easy to miss what's been going on in Estonia this week. Here's a snapshot of some of the highlights.

Government approves sanctions against Belarusian officials

The government on Wednesday approved a directive which will ban people suspected to be responsible for the falsification of the Belarusian presidential election results and related violence and human rights abuses from entering Estonia.

On Sunday, a solidarity chain formed in Tallinn to support Belarusians.

For more on Belarus read ERR's interview with former Foreign Policy Institute director Professor Andres Kasekamp.


Viru counties' committee tasked with halting spread of coronavirus

A crisis committee has been set up to stop the spread of coronavirus in Ida-Viru County which has so far infected more than 80 people in three connected outbreaks. The committee will cover both Ida- and Lääne-Viru counties.

Read more about the situation outbreaks in ERR News' latest coronavirus round-up here.


National opera chairman: Aivar Mäe resigns as director

Aivar Mäe will resign as the director of the Estonian National Opera and will receive severance pay of €39,600. Harassment allegations were made against him by employees earlier this year.


Professor Lutsar: Direct flights infection ceiling should be raised

Virology professor and head of the government's coronavirus scientific council Irja Lutsar said the ceiling on national infection rates should be raised so more direct flights can be kept.


Estonia signs agreement with AstraZeneca for coronavirus vaccine

Estonia has signed a pre-purchase agreement for the coronavirus vaccine with the pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca which should provide Estonia with 1,330,000 doses of the vaccination which can be used by 665,000 people.


Government rules out nationwide late-night alcohol sales ban for now

No nationwide late-night alcohol sales bans to match those in place in Tartu and Ida-Viru counties will be put in place for the time being, the government has said.


Ministry mulls restaurant customer registration as COVID- 19 precaution 

The Ministry of Social Affairs has floated the suggestion that visitors should register when going to restaurants, cinemas, theaters and other public spaces to help with coronavirus contact tracing. Two recent outbreaks in Tartu and Ida-Viru counties were spread in bars and nightclubs.


HOIA app downloaded nearly 50,000 times since launch last week

Estonia's new HOIA coronavirus exposure notification app has been downloaded close to 50,000 times so far, developers said. Read more about HOIA in ERR News' feature.


Statistics: Wage growth stalled across Estonia during second quarter

In the second quarter of 2020, the average monthly gross wage and salary was €1,433, which is 1 percent higher than last year, data from statistics Estonia shows. The year-on-year growth has not been as low for 10 years

The difficult economic situation and rising unemployment are easing wage pressures, a Swedbank economist said about wage rates.

Both Swedbank and SEB estimate Estonia's gross domestic product (GDP) is set to decline by almost 5 percent next year

Employers and the Estonian Trade Union Confederation (Eesti Ametiühingute Keskliit) will discuss next week if the minimum wage can be lowered after the Bank of Estonia's average wage forecast predicted a smaller increase than expected for next year.


Party ratings: Reform support falls behind Center

One recent party ratings survey reported an unexpected change, with the opposition Reform Party, in a comfortable lead in most ratings surveys ever since the last elections in 2019, falling behind the coalition Center Party.


Riigikogu committee chairs say US law firm deal should be scrapped

The heads of the Riigikogu's state budget control and anti-corruption committee Jürgen Ligi (Reform) and Katri Raik (SDE) said a controversial deal signed between the Estonian state and American law frm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan should be scrapped, as it presents a conflict of interest.


Opinion: Why is the marriage referendum needed? 

The coalition will decide if the marriage definition referendum will be held in 2021. Political scientist Tõnis Saarts explains the developments.


Victims of totalitarianism remembered in Maarjamäe

On Sunday, a memorial ceremony and concert was held at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Maarjamäe, Tallinn, marking the International Remembrance Day for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes.


Helme: Both Linnahall and Maarjamäe memorial should be demolished

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) has said that he would have the two Soviet-era edifices Linnahall and Maarjamäe memorial demolished.

In response, Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) ruled out the idea of demolishing either. Head of the Estonian Council of Churches (Eesti Kirikute Nõukogu) Archbishop Emeritus Andres Põder proposed a statue of the Virgin Mary be erected to give new meaning to the Maarjamäe memorial.


Ratas has phone meeting with US state secretary Mike Pompeo next week

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) is due to speak to United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, by phone, next week, with discussion topics likely to be the Three Seas Initiative, bilateral relations and NATO.


ETV Exclusive: 'Tenet' director and stars talk about filming in Tallinn

Christopher Nolan and cast members of his latest film "Tenet" Robert Pattinson, John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki gave an exclusive TV interview to ETV's "Ringvaade" magazine show about their time filming in Tallinn.


Tartu to consume only renewable electricity from 2021

The City of Tartu is to enter into an agreement with AS Alexela for the purchase of electricity for street lighting and the city's agencies and will become a city consuming only green electricity from next year.


50 kratt AI solutions to be in use in Estonia by end of 2020

The e-Estonia Council introduced the vision and development directions of the digital state and cybersecurity development plan for 2030 to the government. There will be a heavy focus on AI implementation and 50 AI services will be in use by the end of the year.

Testing of the digital trade route from Estonia to Poland will start on Thursday, during which the Estonian Tax and Customs Board and the Police and Border Guard Board will try to use real-time freight information to reduce paperwork in the logistics sector in the future.


Statistics: Life expectancy has increased for men and women in Estonia

New data from Statistics Estonia shows life expectancy at birth in 2019 was 74.4 years for males and 82.8 years for females. Men and women are expected to live 70 percent or more of their life in good health but this below the European Union average.


Amendments approved allowing drivers take timeouts for minor offenses

On Thursday, the government endorsed an initiative of the Riigikogu legal affairs committee to amend the Code of Misdemeanor Procedure and the Traffic Act in order to include a timeout imposed on a traffic offender as a sanction in the law.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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