Independence day 2021 will be marked with ceremonies which can be viewed only remotely, the president's office has confirmed, amid continued growing coronavirus numbers.
As reported on ERR News, speculation was rife about the future of the annual February 24 reception, greeting of guests as well as the military parade earlier in the day, and whether these events would take place without a large audience.
The president's office confirmed Tuesday that from the traditional first event of the day – the hoisting of the Estonian blue-black-white on Toompea, through to the evening gala concert and reception, all activities would take place without crowds.
Taavi Linnamäe, President Kersti Kaljulaid's PR adviser, told ERR that: "We are inviting people to congregate at dawn at home, to raise the national flag."
The Toompea flag-raising, atop Pikk Hermann tower, can still be viewed on ETV and on ERR's site on the day, at 7.32 a.m., but the public cannot cram into the governors garden adjacent to it, is in previous years.
In the same way, no guests will be invited to the red-carpet gala concert or the president's speech, which again will be broadcast. This means the lengthy greeting process which sees the president and her husband have to shake hands with literally hundreds of worthies over several hours, with attempts by some to engage the president in conversation rather than keep the line steadily flowing not unheard-of in previous years, will not be taking place.
"Everything will remain the same for the TV viewer; there will simply be no handshakes this time. Instead of the reception following the concert, we will organize a separate festive TV night this time in cooperation with the national broadcaster," Linnamäe explained.
Military parade canceled as well
The military parade, which brings regular Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) and NATO allied personnel and equipment taking part, is also confirmed as off, though what will replace it is not yet known.
EDF commander Maj. Gen. Martin Herem will however lay the traditional wreaths at Vabaduse väljak in central Tallinn, and make a speech.
Other changes will include alternative ways to recognize those who would have in previous years received state decorations from the president.
This year's Victory Day (June 23) parade was also canceled.
President Kaljulaid herself has had to quarantine on two separate occasions, after coming into contact with individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 soon afterwards. She has nonetheless conducted the traditional end-of-year interview with ETV news anchor Priit Kuusk, which will air on Tuesday night at 9.30 p.m.
Editor: Andrew Whyte