Minister: If restrictions followed now, summer events may happen

Anneli Ott on Thursday's 'Esimene stuudio'.
Anneli Ott on Thursday's 'Esimene stuudio'. Source: ERR

Some cultural events may be viable for summer, particularly late summer, but restrictions will need to be in place and followed in the approaching weeks, culture minister Anneli Ott (Center) says.

Talking to politics discussion show "Esimene stuudio" Thursday evening, Ott said that: "If others come (referring to restrictions – ed.), this will bring further mitigation on how this will affect the movement of people and what it means for society as a whole."

Final decisions have not been met, she said.

From the beginning of this week, outdoor public cultural events can go ahead, capped at 150 attendees, dispersed into batches of 10.

"Discussions are being based on this, and next the reasons why indicators still have to be followed. These decisions have not yet been made," she added.

Ott said that from her own perspective she would like the public to be able to go to indoor events, i.e. the cinema, theater and concerts, as early as May 17, if certain conditions are met. 

Cultural organizers now also have more experience and contingency plans on how to reduce the risk of the virus than may have been the case earlier on in the pandemic.

At the same time, she said, the wider picture needs to be looked at.

Professor Irja Lutsar, head of the government's coronavirus advisory council, said at the beginning of the week that while summer is not off this year as a whole, major events with thousands of people attending should not be expected yet.

Ott said that later summer may be the time for gradually growing events, she hoped, adding this was still an open question.

Noone was intentionally trying to obstruct the organization of events, she said, adding wherever the possibility to hold an event exists, it will go ahead.

Ott said: "Plans can be coordinated with the Health Board in the advance, on how dispersal is envisaged, how the sectors are divided. If this is talked over together, when organizing an event is viable, no one will deliberately prevent it."


One major event which has already received the go ahead is the WRC Rally Estonia in mid-July.

"How large the major events of this summer is really still open, as to whether we are talking about 500 or 1,500 people or even more. We can't say at the moment, but we hope that at least towards the end of the summer, these [audience] numbers will be higher," Ott said, adding that just a few weeks of responsibility ahead of that was needed.

"We hope that a few weeks of effort will allow for summer events," he said in a broadcast.

Event organizers can already start notifying the Health Board (Terviseamet) of their plans, Ott said.

There was also a difference between different types of major events, for instance with Rally Estonia, the location of the action moves and with it spectators, compared with concerts, where people tend to stay in the one place.

Ott also said the four nationally culturally important sites identified and presented before the Riigikogu recently were regionally balanced, adding that despite the current crisis, once investment in developing these cultural objects had begun, the crisis would already be over.

"As of today, we are certainly talking about support measures, restrictions, supplementary budget which the Ministry of Culture will use. These decisions are future decisions and it will take time for the money to go to the investment objects. So the process is still a lengthy one, but my hope is that we will have exited the crisis by then," Ott said.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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