Tallinn mayor: Government not acting systematically with restrictions

Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center).
Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The latest raft of coronavirus restrictions demonstrate that the government has not adequately performed its task, or has even failed in it, Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said Friday, adding that the administration has not acted systematically in their implementation.

Kõlvart told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "There is no need to have a discussion every week on whether 50 or 100 people should wear a face-mask or not. In fact, at some point a mathematical solution is needed. This is particularly the case with a crisis which has been going on for a year-and-a-half."

Kõlvart stressed that he did not oppose the latest restrictions, noting that the issue was simply with a lack of planning or systematic activity.

The government announced Friday, and swiftly passed the order, that in addition to the face-mask requirement on public transport reappearing on Monday, public events – encompassing a wide range of activity including sports training and religious services, as well as concerts and festivals – whose organizers did not conduct coronavirus vaccination checks would be capped at 50 attendees if indoors, and 100 if outdoors.

These numbers were reportedly one tenth those the cabinet had tabled at the beginning of the week.

Chair of the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) had called for the public to ignore the new restrictions, in a spirit of civil disobedience, on his social media account Thursday evening.

Helme said that the public was being punished for the government's mishandling of the coronavirus situation.

Speaking to AK, after the latest restrictions had been announced, said that: "We have had for months now a huge stockpile of vaccines, one which has eventually ended up going bad, while there's a lot of foolish talk about why these can't be delivered to people in any way. This is all due to a poor job on the part of the government, and now they are punishing the people for it."

Helme said he also couldn't understand why face-masks were making a return on public transport – where they were last phased-out in May – given that vaccines were supposed to resolve the issue of infections.

Andero Uusberg, a psychologist and member of the government's coronavirus advisory council, told AK that vaccine checking on public transport would, however, not be feasible.

Face-mask wearing would also be: "In fact, perhaps just such a sign of solidarity, in that we all understand that we, as a society, have reached the next risk stage of the virus; that we are showing that we are ready to fight this fight again," Uusberg said.

Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) told AK that vaccinations did not prevent the virus propagating, even among those who have had the shot, adding that Helme's call for non-compliance will not keep society open, and will not head off overcrowding in hospitals.

"Viruses and diseases do not really care about whether people like them or not, nor whether people like the regulations or not," Kiik said.

Tartu mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform) said earlier in the week that authorities in Estonia's second-largest city wanted swifter coronavirus decisions; the recent raft of restrictions was announced the same day as the government order enacting it was issued, though they do not take effect until a week on Monday, August 9.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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