Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) in an interview Wednesday evening that while the majority in society have so far followed restrictions which curb their lifestyles, in order to protect the minority, now the latter can protect itself, by getting vaccinated. This raises the question as to why the majority should continue to be restricted, Kallas said. Kallas also denied rifts in communication on coronavirus strategy within the Reform/Center coalition, in the interview, as follows.
Do you agree with the opposition's criticism that we need to shift gears, and that we are moving towards disaster?
The fact that the condition with the coronavirus is bad is evident to all. If we examine those who gets sick, it is mainly those who are unvaccinated who become seriously unwell, while people who are unvaccinated are also dying. For this reason, we have been making the efforts we have implemented and which the opposition has been making counter-proposals on for a month now.
But this does not seem to have been enough?
This doesn't seem to have been enough. If we look at studies, there are still people remaining, about 13-15 percent, who are convinced in their opposition to vaccination, plus we have those who are hesitant. The main cause of for their hesitation is that they fear side effects. This is why we've redoubled efforts to convince the public and alleviate fears.
Clearly, we are at a place where too little has been done, as otherwise we would not be talking about that here right now. I understand that there are now two choices facing the government - a stick or a carrot? Who, then, ultimately, will be offered something, and when?
We have a number of proposals on the table, which I also mentioned yesterday, some of which are surely harsher, some of which provide additional incentives [to get vaccinated].
But do these help when neither behavioral scientists, nor the scientific council agree, on these measures?
So if we look at the fact that the majority has so far restricted itself in order to protect the minority, now the minority also has the opportunity to defend itself with the help of the vaccine, and increasingly the question arises as to why the majority should still restrict itself.
In other words, if the problem is unvaccinated people, then perhaps at a time when the disease is spreading very rapidly, a very high level, it is necessary to protect unvaccinated people, to steer them away.
Pease explain how we have reached a situation where the Prime Minister appears on Vikerraadio to threaten to deprive people of treatment or to bill them for it, so that a day later, when these ideas have sifted through to the bottom, we can say that it was just a debate?
The charge we have faced in the spring is that we do not know what the government is considering, and decisions come too quickly, too abruptly, while entrepreneurs and the public cannot prepare.
Yesterday, I listed the proposals that the expert panel has made to us. Among these were these proposals, which were by no means proposals that the government is making itself.
But those were the words that came from the prime minister's mouth on the national broadcaster. What will an elderly person hear or see? Would it be a social media post where you say, today, that it was just an exercise in thought, or what the Prime Minister says on Vikerraadio?
I believe that an older person would listen very carefully to the program and also listened to me stating and explaining the proposals that have been put on the table. This does not mean that the government decides between these. There are choices that need to be made, it does not mean that the government will adopt all of them.
But we have really heard a lot of different and also contradictory messages from within the coalition. You say one thing, the coalition partner says another. When will there be concrete communication, ideas and strategies which will be implemented in a way that everyone understands things along the same lines?
We have a clear plan, and also a clear communication strategy. However, when you look at society, you find very differing points of view. There are people who say that everything should be restricted again, there are people who say that there is no coronavirus. There are those who call for vaccination, there are those who say that vaccination should not be allowed. There are people who say don't follow the restrictions, and there are people who say that in fact your whole life should once again grind to a halt. In this sense, there is also no common understanding within society.
The government has a very common understanding, and that is what we have been communicating all along. Our goal is to keep as few people as possible from being hospitalized. Our goal is for society and schools to remain as open as is possible, and our goal is for people not to fall seriously ill. These are the aims on which we have based our decisions and will continue to do so.
Editor: Andrew Whyte