Bocuse d'Or culinary competition organizers request travel entry exemptions ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Bocuse d'Or chef competition in 2015.
Bocuse d'Or chef competition in 2015. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The organizers of international world cuisine championship Bocuse d'Or, set to take place on October 15-16, have approached the government with a proposal to make an exemption for competitors entering Estonia from coronavirus high-risk countries.

The top-level contest was initially scheduled to take place in Tallinn in May, but was postponed to October 15-16 due to the pandemic.

Minister of Rural Affairs Arvo Aller (EKRE) said that while the competition is important, the final decision must be made after assessing the spread of COVID-19 in Estonia.

Aller told ERR: "The government has been informed of a change in schedule of the competition and the organizer wishes for competitors to have an exemption in regards to the two-week self-isolation period. The government has not yet made a decision, as of today (Wednesday - ed.)"

The rural affairs minister added: "It is a very important contest but we have to monitor the spread of the virus for it to take place, the government will make its decision based on that."

In October last year, the government decided to support the event with a funding package of €775,000.

A similar exemption was granted for WRC Rally Estonia and triathlon competition Ironman Tallinn in early September, which led to a total of two positive cases of COVID-19 diagnosed.

Organizer: Competitors would be subject to strict rules

One of the main organizers of Bocuse d'Or, Tarmo Hõbe, told ERR that event organizers, along with the Health Board (Terviseamet) and Tallinn city government's social welfare and health care department have drawn up a plan consisting of strict rules and regulations on how competitors might be allowed entry to Estonia.

Hõbe said: "Competitors arriving from all countries would have to go through coronavirus testing at least 72 hours before departing their home country. The test must come back negative and a proof certificate in English must be provided. Together with Synlab, we have set up a mobile testing station at Tallinn Airport, where a test must be taken right after landing. After this test, competitors would be transfered to their hotel rooms where they must remain in isolation, until the test results come back (which could be a matter of hours - ed.)."

If the test returns COVID-19 positive, the organizational team will work with a family medicine center for competitor monitoring, under Hõbe's plan.

Competitors would be given an accreditation if they prove clear of the novel coronavirus. "People who come here will stay in their hotel, and will only move around via transfer organized by us. They will only move around within their zone at the Saku Suurhall (the competition's venue - ed.). They will not use public transportation, will not go to restaurants and will not socialize in large crowds. That regulation would be set for everyone."

Hõbe added that the event will not be open to spectators either, and will instead be broadcast internationally.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte

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