Mayor of Tallinn calls for declaring emergency situation

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Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center). Source: ERR

The coronavirus crisis has now reached a point in Estonia where an emergency situation should be declared, according to Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center).

Kõlvart said that decisions cannot be based on the present situation alone and instead need to take into account what lies in store for Estonia in a couple of weeks or one month.

"The current state of affairs clearly shows that the situation is about to deteriorate, prompting the question - what are we waiting for?" he said.

The mayor said declaring an emergency situation should be weighed extremely seriously.

"Alternatively, we could wait another couple of weeks and the need to declare an emergency situation will emerge on its own," he said.

Kõlvart noted that such decisions are understandably painful.

"It's better if we make the decisions rather than the situation forcing us to make them. Does anyone really believe that the current restrictions will contain the virus situation in a couple of weeks? I think it's time to admit that the situation is critical and calls for strict and prompt measures," Kõlvart said.

The Tallinn mayor also called on the state to draw up a compensation package for entrepreneurs and private individuals.

"We're talking about millions [of euros]. I used to be against borrowing to cover operational costs; however, at this point I'm thinking that the current crisis may require doing so," he said.

Last week, more than 8,100 new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in Estonia and more than 4,000 were confirmed in Tallinn.

City ready to shoulder vaccination effort

The City of Tallinn is ready to support the vaccination process, Kõlvart said.

Cooperation in the vaccination process was at first not the smoothest between the city and the state; however, both sides have expressed a desire to improve the situation, according to Kõlvart.

"It is important that it should be possible to plan the vaccination process in advance. We understand that this process is very complicated and it is not our intention to criticize anyone but we sincerely wish to cooperate," he said, adding that the city is also prepared to contribute financially if needed.

Tallinn to distribute protective masks to residents through mailboxes

The City of Tallinn is planning to start distributing protective face masks next week by delivering them to apartment buildings' mailboxes, Kõlvart said at the press conference.

Kõlvart said that the city has been given information by the Health Board on apartment buildings were outbreaks of the coronavirus have surfaced, and the city is now planning to warn residents in these buildings with information leaflets and provide them with face masks.

"There are many such buildings, and the number of them was still several times lower just last week. Each city district will engage with these buildings and also distribute disinfectants," he said.

The city is also planning to distribute face masks to families with many children as well as to single parents with the corresponding campaign set to be launched next week.

"All families with many children will receive two packs of masks, containing altogether 100 masks, and all single parents will get one pack," Kõlvart said.

The city will also not forget pensioners, and altogether at least one million masks will be distributed, he added. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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