Otepää mayor appeals to government against new coronavirus restrictions

Valga town hall.
Valga town hall. Source: Valga city government.

A recent coronavirus outbreak in Valga County has pushed the region's infection rate to the second highest in Estonia but the mayor of Otepää is appealing to the government to not create additional restrictions.

In Valga County the 14-day infection rate is 680.75 and only Ida-Viru County has a higher rate at 866.98. Valga County is divided into three municipalities Valga, Otepää and Tõrva and has a total population of less than 30,000.

Entrepreneurs in Otepää - Estonia's winter capital - are worried the infection rate will affect the winter season, putting a stop to winter sports and activities, because the government will want to introduce additional restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.

In an appeal to the government, Otepää municipality mayor Jaanus Barkala said the high infection rate has been caused by an outbreak at Paju nursing home, close to the border city of Valga, where more than 120 people have tested positive for coronavirus. 

"Due to the fact that there are few people in the county, such an outbreak makes the statistical infection rate very high, but it does not in any way reflect the general condition of the county - much less that of the different municipalities," he said.

Barkala said entrepreneurs are already taking precautions, following COVID-19 guidelines and ticket prices have also been temporarily increased.

"Our entrepreneurs are conscientious and have done a great deal to keep the risk of COVID-19 in the area as low as possible," he said, adding from January 5 to January 25, a total of 40 people became ill in Otepää municipality. 

Barkala believes it would be unfair to create additional restrictions that would affect businesses that have behaved responsibly but are already missing foreign tourists. "We ask you to take into account the real situation of the regions and look at the numbers when setting restrictions," the mayor wrote.

On Sunday, ERR reported that the number of infected people is growing in the city of Valga, with education, culture and sports facilities' work disrupted.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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