It is important to pay attention to education when talking about illness and restrictions. Estonia should have a plan for sending children back to school by fall, journalists Sulev Vedler and Urmet Kook and host Mirko Ojakivi said on the Vikerraadio" Rahva teenrid" talk show.
"It is unfortunate that we lack any and all public discussion on the level of the government and the COVID-19 scientific advisory committee on how we can start opening up the country again," Ojakivi said.
He explained that education is the number one concern and the question of whether children will be forced to return to remote learning in the fall.
"Traders will go bankrupt and others will take their place as the world is not about to run out of money. However, serious gaps in education will take far longer to remedy," the host added.
Vedler said that altering curricula could be one solution, while no one is talking about it.
Kook pointed to the possibility of using rapid tests, adding that ERR has been using them for some time and several people have been diagnosed. He added that rapid tests should not be feared and using them is not dangerous.
Better ventilation systems would also help reduce the risk of infection, Ojakivi offered. He added that the state allocated local governments funds for fixing up schools' ventilation systems last year. But the money has been used elsewhere.
"It's like paying for a dead cow. While the taxpayer keeps paying for modernization of ventilation systems, that is precisely what is not being done," he added.
Case rate coming down
Vedler said that people need to be addressed in terms they can understand and [Director of the Health Board] Üllar Lanno's message that summer might be canceled made a lot of people think.
"Personally, I do not believe that statements by Lanno and [PM Kaja] Kallas made people think," Kook said, adding that the messages were rather perceived as irritating.
He also said that the reproduction number R has come down and the number of new daily positives is also falling. Kook attributed the change to vaccination, people recovering from the disease and restrictions.
Ojakivi pointed to an opinion piece by Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200) in which the politician criticizes Kallas for relaxing measures in January and her social media post from earlier in the week.
"If in late January, public opinion supported relaxing restrictions, it has shifted by today and is calling for tougher measures," Ojakivi said, adding that the Reform Party often bases its decisions on poll results.
He asked Vedler and Kook whether the state was being run based on such studies today.
Kook said that poll results are hardly detailed and that it is difficult to make decisions based on them.
"Restrictions cannot be laid down based on what people want or do not want," Vedler said, adding that we need to listen to epidemiologists.
Kook pointed to an interview with Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart where he said that schools cannot be opened because children sit close together but had no answer when asked whether the practice of city center so-called elite schools to put together oversized classes should be restricted. "These are rather peculiar and controversial messages," Kook said.
The hosts agreed that central and local government heads should send clear and unambiguous messages.
Other topics covered included compensation for sick days and vaccination.
Editor: Marcus Turovski