Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says she is hopeful that the current coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed, on the condition that the infection rate falls, because people need time off in the fear of possible new virus waves.
Kallas said on Vikerradio's morning program that, as summer approaches, it is important to vaccinate as many people as possible. Compared with last summer and winter, it also needs to be taken into account that around 400,000 people now have COVID-19 antibodies.
"My view is that when we know that new waves are coming in autumn, then there has to be some time for taking a breath. When the infection rate gets lower, we can behave free in the society to be ready for the situation getting worse," Kallas said.
Kallas had last month faced widespread criticism for "cancelling summer", after expressing disappointment over the pace of the fall in the infection rate and suggesting further restrictions may be needed. The rate has since come down, with the "R" number dipping below 1.0.
The prime minister said, however, she couldn't reveal a date for relaxing the restrictions more widely, though said there was still hope that society will be opened up more next month, for example by eating out in restaurants or going to cinemas and theaters being permissible. "Our wish is not to keep places closed longer than necessary," Kallas said.
Regarding the government's coronavirus advisory body's recommendation to open schools from the first day after the break, i.e. today, April 26, (the government decided to open the schools from May 3 - ed.), Kallas said that while it listens to the scientists, only the cabinet can make decisions on the organization of social life.
"The advisory council doesn't see the wider picture," Kallas said, explaining that on the one hand, the desire is to see fewer infected people, but on the other hand, the wish to live normally, study and work is also present, and the decision is ultimately the government's to make.
Since previous experience has shown that after school holidays and traveling related to that, the number of infected people has generally risen, the government left a buffer time between the holiday and opening schools again.
Editor: Roberta Vaino