Lutsar: Scientific council will propose harmonizing COVID-19 restrictions

Head of the government's COVID-19 scientific council Irja Lutsar.
Head of the government's COVID-19 scientific council Irja Lutsar. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government's scientific advisory council is to recommend coronavirus restrictions are harmonized across the country, head of the council virology professor Irja Lutsar said on Tuesday. Additional details have not yet been clarified.

Currently in Estonia, Harju and Ida-Viru counties have additional restrictions while life in Estonia's other 13 counties is essentially back to normal.

The virology professor told ERR in a small country like Estonia, local restrictions might not always be effective. She explained that Pärnu's infection rate has increased due to the holiday period when lots of people across Estonia traveled there for the holidays.

"Local restrictions were necessary, they worked very well. But harmonizing the rules does not always mean stricter rules, but can also mean more relaxed rules. Most probably, we will meet somewhere in the middle," Lutsar said.

She explained the council will make a proposal to the government on Tuesday, (January 26) so the fine details have not yet been discussed.

Lutsar does not think an outbreak similar to Ireland - which has one of the highest infection rates in Europe - is likely to happen in Estonia because no holidays are coming up and no bars are opened spectacularly. "I am very glad to say that Ireland has the virus under control," she added.

At the same time, the infection rate in Valga County is high. Lutsar said that this is mainly due to an outbreak in a care home.

"This is the beauty and pain of these small countries, one outbreak rises the rate a lot," she added.

Lutsar said the curfew is an extreme measure and it can have a contrary effect. She emphasized the aim of the curfew is to stop parties but people can meet earlier and sit together.

"The virus really does not know if it's night or day, but I think the aim is to restrict partying at night," the professor added.

Lutsar added that it is important to stay at home but to go on walks in the fresh air.

Lutsar said the virus is not spreading actively in restaurants where dispersion rules are complied with and where there are no parties. "In a place where people are together, screaming, singing and alcohol is included, there are a lot of outbreaks," she added.

The new government is due to meet at 2 p.m. for its first session after taking the oath of office this morning.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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