'Samost ja Sildam': The government could indicate longevity of restrictions

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Anvar Samost (left) and Toomas Sildam on a previous edition of the eponymous Vikerraadio show. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Journalists Anvar Samost and Toomas Sildam talked about how long additional coronavirus restrictions in Tallinn, Harju County and Ida-Viru County will remain in effect and why Europe has been slow to vaccinate.

Samost said that Estonia is the fifth in Europe when it comes to the pace of vaccination, while that is hardly noteworthy.

"Estonia is a very small and flexible country and society that can be mobilized very quickly. /…/ If we had more vaccine and moved even faster, we would have already inoculated our medical staff by today," he said.

Samost added that Estonia has vaccinated a lot more people per capita than Finland, France and Switzerland for example.

That said, Israel took delivery of 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week and another batch of Pfizer's on Sunday, he added.

"Whether [Minister of Social Affairs] Tanel Kiik picks up the phone to shout at the European healthcare commissioner or not would probably make very little difference. Just as it is a fact Estonia cannot dictate terms to Pfizer," Samost explained.

He said that Estonia is rather in the role of a customer and the quantity of available vaccine depends on the European Commission and manufacturers. Additionally, it is unclear how many doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered before the shipment gets underway from Belgium.

Sildam said it is also important to talk about restrictions and when they might be lifted.

He added that the situation might cause gaps in education as students in Northern Estonia are still looking at remote learning in the second academic half-year.

Samost said there is no explanation for grades 5-8 and 10-11 remaining on remote learning. "If there is a good reason somewhere that goes beyond hot air, I have not seen it yet," he added.

Sildam also said that it remains unclear when different restaurants and sports facilities will be opened in Tallinn, Harju County and Ida-Viru County.

"People, mostly Tallinners, /…/ drive to Paide, Kohila or Haapsalu that are all roughly an hour's drive from the capital to go to the gym," Samost said, adding that it is a fine way to spread the virus all over the country.

Sildam added that while it cannot really be held against residents, it prompts the question of whether regional restrictions have real positive effect.

"Estonian hospitals have not collapsed. Medical institutions that have experienced staffing problems have found temporary employees," Sildam said.

He added that Estonians owe thanks to medical professionals. Samost agreed and said that the Estonian medical system has held out much better than its Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts in a situation where the latter have maintained very strict coronavirus measures for a long time.

The hosts agreed that the government and the COVID-19 advisory council should give an indication of when current restrictions might be relaxed or lifted.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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