Tallinn mayor: Face-masks should be compulsory at outdoor mass events too

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart, here giving a pre-pandemic training session, is also a Tae-kwon do black belt.
Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart, here giving a pre-pandemic training session, is also a Tae-kwon do black belt. Source: Ksenia Kurs / City government

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kolvart (Center) says that face-masks should be made mandatory at outdoor, public events.

In a situation in the capital where the health care is becoming increasingly overloaded, the mayor said the step would be logical.

He said: "Scheduled medical services already have to be partly reduced, and there is the risk that emergency medical care, too, will be pared down in a week or two."

Should the rule come into effect it would, ironically, make mask-wearing a requirement at any future outdoor demonstrations against the mandatory wearing of face-masks, such as the one that took place in Vabaduse väljak last Friday.

Currently, face-masks must be worn, nationwide and via government order, in indoor public spaces such as shopping malls and also on public transport, though what legal recourse there is for authorities to deal with those who refuse to wear one is not clear. The police will not be fining non-mask-wearers, as things currently stand.

Mayor: 2021 to be seen in with dispersed fireworks displays

Another outdoor public event which is going ahead is a dispersed fireworks display in various Tallinn locations on New Year's eve, replacing the traditional, centralized displays on Vabaduse väljak or on Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats), and the accompanying concert.

Kõlvart said at a press conference Wednesday: "The concert at Vabaduse väljak will not take place this year. It is clear that large events cannot be staged. We do find, however, that a fireworks display must nevertheless go ahead, but in a manner whereby people are dispersed as much as possible."

This would see around half a dozen different locations across the capital holding smaller displays.

The city government also wants to make the displays as environmentally-friendly as possible, Kõlvart added.

Even before the pandemic began, large-scale fireworks displays had attracted criticism due to the distress caused to pets by the events.

Kõlvart also called for closer cooperation between the national and local government in the battle with COVID-19, including contingencies for the bleakest scenarios.

"We've been saying this since summer, and we need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario," Kõlvart noted.

While cooperation between Tallinn and the Health Board (Terviseamet) had been good, he said, preparations for the autumn wave had been inadequate.

While Kolvart lauded cooperation between the city and the Health Board, he noted that the preparations were insufficient.

"Local governments need to know now what kind of resources they should prepare and what the organization of work and life would be in case of the darkest scenario. This means a possible crisis in the health care system, which doctors are already talking about now," he said.

Authorities should think several steps ahead, he added, when planning, ideally on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis.

Tallinn has been distributing masks to low-income families and the elderly for several days now, as well as to schools.

Around 1.5 million one-use masks, and 25,000 reusable varieties, have been budgeted for so far.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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