Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), Indrek Saar, says that the disputes around the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act (NETS) were the result of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) creating a pseudo-problem about the matter.
"If today, we look back to the time when the problem was first raised and look at the solution, then we understand it's a problem that has been created mechanically ... Created by EKRE and successfully," Saar told ETV's current affairs show "Esimene stuudio" Wednesday night.
"And I think it's a textbook example for the future, for creating a pseudo-problem and, instead of solving the actual problem, the pseudo-problem is focused on, which has been creating knowingly, relaying the issue to members of the public who haven't got the time to look into the subject," he added.
Saar said that the amendments in the NETS achieved as a compromise are cosmetic, meaning the original, intended amendments are in essence still in place. The amendments would boost the Police and Border Guard's (PPA) powers in ensuring compliance with coronavirus restrictions, primarily by other authorities in turn - principally the Health Board - being given scope to call on the PPA when needed (the latter can refuse to attend to a matter).
"Regarding the law, we agreed on as a compromise, the changes are cosmetic and won't change anything in the matters which were already agreed on."
Saar said he partly understands those people who have protested against the law in front of the Riigikogu and on the Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak).
"I don't understand all of them. I definitely won't defend all behavior I saw there. But in an insecure situation, where you are being lied to skillfully- and we have seen that, it doesn't only happen in Estonia, but in the politics of many countries in the world - it is easy to make something seem terrible, which actually might not be as terrible," he explained.
Saar said that people are protesting for several reasons, but the organizers of the protests are provocateurs.
The PPA were criticized a lot for coming to check on the protest with great force. Saar said that even though the police has to ensure safety during such events, including an armed special unit on the day was inappropriate.
"I do not know the threat assessment that the police had, but looking at the visual picture - and most of us judge by the picture - it raised questions as to whether the relatively bold-armed special unit was appropriate during these events. But ultimately, the police must ensure security. The police did their job, whether it was tactically in the right proportion, it is difficult to assess. "
The Social Democrats do not lose hope of compensation for sick leave
Saar also said that the party continues to hope that the government understands the importance of 100 percent compensation for sick leave from day one.
"We have not lost hope that today's government and the prime minister will understand it one day, but today was really the moment when I tried to understand in question time what is the main argument of the government against the compensation. And I didn't get an answer," Saar said.
He emphasized that, according to the SDE's proposal, sick leave would be compensated only from the first day to those infected with the coronavirus and close contacts.
"What we proposed means that from day one and 100 percent will be paid to those who are diagnosed with the coronavirus or considered a close contact. In other words, those who are quarantined or forced to be at home. This is purely related to the pandemic," he explained.
Saar acknowledged the Tallinn City Government, which has decided to start compensating for sick leave from the first day. Saar said, however, this also poses a problem - as Tallinn is in a better financial position than many other local governments, it leads to inequality.
Editor: Roberta Vaino