Külli Taro: Covid certificate to become part of everyday life

Külli Taro.
Külli Taro. Source: ERR

The government cannot be held responsible for every time the virus is transmitted, every case of illness or even death. No democratic country can keep people exhibiting symptoms home by force or ban all parties, Külli Taro finds in Vikerraadio's daily comment.

When a child falls and hurts themselves at a playground, some parents accuse the company that built the playground. Perhaps even the government for not banning such dangerous structures. Other parents feel responsible for not looking after their child enough, while yet others will say that things happen, wipe away the child's tears and send them to play.

It seems to me that we are seeing similar strategies deployed to cope with the coronavirus. Some seem to believe it is the government's job to protect them from the virus. Others do everything in their power to avoid it, while some people are simply not that bothered by the virus.

We will best cope with the crisis if everyone does what only or mainly they can do. A person can lower the likelihood of being infected and passing on the disease by staying home when ill, getting vaccinated, washing their hands and avoiding crowded indoor spaces. Companies must make sure their services are safe. The state's task is to organize hospital treatment, vaccination organization, border control, administer information systems and maintain stockpiles.

The government cannot be held responsible for every time the virus is transmitted, every case of illness or even death. No democratic country can keep people exhibiting symptoms home by force or ban all parties. Allowing a maximum of 500 event participants in no way guarantees that an event with 400 participants is safe.

We did not have a long-term measure against the virus last year. Today, we have vaccines. No matter one's personal attitude toward inoculation, it is clear that while vaccination cannot rule out infection and likely also transmission, it remains an effective way to reduce the total number of infections and avoid severe cases of the disease. That is just what we need to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed and people developing serious health problems.

Even though the European Union has said vaccination should not be mandatory, many member states are plotting a different course. The most widespread measure is obligating healthcare, social and education workers to get vaccinated.

We can read from the news that vaccination has picked up speed in France and Italy after the countries started requiring people to produce vaccination certificates when going to the movies, museum, gym or restaurant. Malta requires everyone entering the country to produce the certificate, as well as citizens of third countries working there.

Countries sporting different regimes and administrative traditions are stricter still. Fiji that is leading the world in vaccinations per capita has made immunization mandatory for all public and private sector workers. In Saudi Arabia, everyone whose work takes them out of their home must be vaccinated. Public transport, public institutions or sports clubs remain closed to those who cannot provide proof of vaccination.

The United Arab Emirates are even experimenting with double measures, with people needing to prove that they are immunized as well as produce a negative test result to access some events. Authorities in Pakistan's Punjab Province have even threatened to block the mobile phones of people who refuse to be vaccinated. However, that is an extreme example of interesting ideas in a colorful world.

Global developments tell us that vaccination will become rather unavoidable in one way or another. Vital services will likely remain available in Estonia and a negative test result a viable alternative to vaccination. However, one might not have such choices when traveling abroad.

Therefore, the coronavirus certificate will become a natural part of life in the near future. We are used to producing our ticket's barcode when going to the movies or boarding a plane. In the future, a QR code will be added. This will see responsibility move back into the hands of people and companies, instead of the state regulating our every step.

For life to go on and for essential human intimacy and communication to recover, all sides must be responsible as far as things that depend on them are concerned. The private sector has already set an example. Estonia's leading gym operator said even before the government's decision that it will check the Covid certificates of everyone coming in starting from this week. I remember having to produce proof of not having a fungal infection before going to the swimming pool when I was a kid. Or be prepared to show my toes. So, everything new really is well-forgotten old.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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