"Samost ja Sildam": Restrictions on movement useless against coronavirus

Toomas Sildam (left) and Anvar Samost.
Toomas Sildam (left) and Anvar Samost. Source: ERR

Decisions by major European countries to return to strict restrictions on movement to try and slow down the spread of COVID-19 will very likely not produce results as the infection rate tends to be lower in countries that sport milder restrictions, journalist Anvar Samost found on the "Samost and Sildam" talk show on Sunday.

Journalist Toomas Sildam noted that if Germany as the EU presidency was expected to have other member states agree on common coronavirus restrictions, that has not happened and we can see every country laying down the kind of restrictions it sees fit.

Samost found it to be positive in a way as shops and restaurants could otherwise be closed and going outside past 10 p.m. prohibited in Estonia today, even though the coronavirus situation is still largely under control. He added that restrictions on movement do little to slow down the spread of the virus.

"I do not want any of it (restrictions – ed.) and I'm also convinced that none of them help fight the virus. They are political convenience of replacement measures meant to show voters that the government, parliament or politicians in general are finally doing something," Samost said.

Samost said that enough time has passed since the so-called first wave in spring to draw conclusions of what was done right and what wasn't.

"I think we should be very critical of Italy that was the first free and democratic state based on the rule of law to subject its citizens to the same restrictions on movement as the Communist regime in China had done earlier. I believe it was a mistake and we saw that mistake repeated in spring, whereas it is being repeated today, also in France and the UK, albeit in a lighter, more limited form," the journalist said, adding that repeating the same mistakes will not yield the desired results.

Looking at European figures for the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 residents, they reflect everything except what kind of measures states have taken. They reflect population density, relative importance of metropolises in population and the effects of societies' cultural traditions and how people communicate. Rounding out the table are rather countries that have not introduced draconian measures of shutting down society and I believe there is a solid logic to this," Samost said.

Sildam said that the rest of Europe is probably greatly surprised to see Estonia head into Restaurant Week where people can freely visit dining establishments.

Anvar Samost said it is hardly peculiar because infection statistics in Estonia suggests outbreaks do not start in restaurants, schools, public events, movies or the theater. "The real outbreaks are the Viru Prison where people live in close proximity to one another and certain work collectives where the virus spreads. If I understand the Health Board correctly, people coming into contact while working isn't the real problem and rather the disease is passed on when people gather for lunch in the break room," Samost said.

Samost said that we need to hope Estonia's rather relaxed approach has been the right one. "Statistics suggests that the higher number [of new cases] in the past few days should not alarm people too much. The situations is much better compared to the rest of Europe," he said, adding that one thing the government should decide post haste is a new survey as recent weeks' statistics suggests the coronavirus could be spreading hiddenly in Estonia.

Editor: Marcus Turovski

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