EKRE chairman: Vaccination is key to exiting restrictions

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Martin Helme. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Chairman of opposition party EKRE Martin Helme said vaccination is the key to removing coronavirus restrictions because it will help to suppress the infection rate.

"The government has hinted that there is a plan for opening the school system by region. I think that if they manage to do that well and it doesn't cause chaos, it's definitely a good idea," Helme said.

However, implementing different regional restrictions on businesses could be contra-productive. "When you close the spas in Tallinn and Ida-Viru County, then everybody will go to Saare County, Haapsalu or Tartu and the situation will get worse," Helme said.

"The most important question is how vaccination is progressing. This is the real solution to exiting [the restrictions]," he said.

Talking about the different coronavirus indicators, Helme said the infection rate - R - is the most important.

"Another important number which is not mentioned a lot, but is very important and becoming even more important, is the number of people with antibodies or who are immune to the virus. Here, we already have around 100,000 people who have suffered from the virus and the people who have been vaccinated, there are over 200,000 of them. The total number of these people creates the number of people not infecting anybody or becoming infected themselves," Helme said.

"All other numbers come from the coefficient. When there are more and more immune people every day, then the coefficient will come down from there and the workload of hospitals is smaller," he added.

Helme also considers border control important. "The worst thing that the government has done is that they haven't dealt with the cases that come in from abroad and the insincere rhetoric that Estonia is dangerous for everybody else but other countries are not dangerous for us. But actually, the biggest danger comes from abroad, the new variants, which spread fast," he added.

"No matter how high the infection rate is here if we let Ukrainians enter the country or people travel to warm countries, then we're bringing the virus in," Helme said.

The current rate of R, which is 0.82-0.85, is encouraging he said, but it needs to continue to stay low.

"What can happen is that people see that the coefficient has decreased and now the restrictions can be ignored. In fact, before making any decisions, we should be able the get the absolute numbers down. We have to wait patiently for a couple of weeks," Helme said.

On Tuesday, March 30, the government decided to extend the restrictions established until April 11 until at least April 25. In two weeks, the numbers discussed again and new decisions will be made.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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