EKRE to challenge government proof of vaccination order in court

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EKRE leader Martin Helme. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) said Monday that it is challenging in court a government order requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination at large events.

The deadline for doing so is September 6, EKRE's leader, Martin Helme, told ERR Monday, adding that in his view Estonia is living in a simulated rule of law situation, but not a real one.

Helme said: "The government is pretending to follow the constitution, and the people are pretending to follow the government's orders. This is a breakdown of the rule of law."

"We plan to challenge government regulation in court, and have lawyers acting for us, andI hope we will reach an appeal in the coming weeks," he went on.

"We challenge the fact that people are divided into two [groups]. That fundamental freedoms, freedom of assembly and basic services are made dependent on some kind of document devised by the government. The constitution does not allow for the people to be divided in this way, "Helme added.

Government order no. 282 is one of many such regulations issued since the coronavirus first arrived in spring 2020 and deals with combating viral spread, including the requirement to provide proof of coronavirus vaccination at indoor and outdoor events.

Other recently imposed restrictions include the requirement to wear a face-mask on public transport, which from August 26 will be extended to stores, among other restrictions signed into effect by the government Monday evening.

While the number of outdoor events is likely to diminish as summer draws to a close, from next month, the requirement will be extended out to all types of events and gatherings of people and not just larger ones, which under the current rules means more than 100 participants outdoors, of 50 indoors. Religious services and youth sport activities have obtained special exemption .

Helme says that the restrictions have not met either of the twin criteria of being justified or proportionate, adding that the presence of vaccines for over six months renders what he called a heavy-handed approach by the government less appropriate than it had been last year.

Lawyers acting for EKRE will be examining whether to challenge the order and accompanying restrictions in its entirety or in part.

While EKRE will not take part in protests against the restrictions, Helme said, such demonstrations were understandable as the: "Canaries in the mine, warning us all about a government that systematically tightens screws and must be protested," he said.

Proof of a recent negative coronavirus test or of recovery from the coronavirus can also be provided when attending large events – a rule which covers those working at the event in any capacity, as well as members of the public. The national Patient Portal holds coronavirus vaccine or testing certificates, meaning these can be produced electronically, such as via smartphone, as well as in printout form.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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