Health minister: We are thinking about more restrictions, not easing them

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center).
Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Regardless of the coronavirus spread lowering considerably in Estonia recently, Tuesday's government cabinet sitting is unlikely to result in any restrictions being eased. The new Omicron variant of the virus could instead see more restrictions imposed on arrivals from abroad, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said.

"Additional steps are expected tomorrow to ensure that the spread of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus is limited in Estonia," Kiik said. The government is looking for measures to impose testing on arrivals from abroad, especially from countries with high rates of infection, the minister added.

"We are currently in a situation, where there is a new dangerous strain spreading in Europe and the rest of the world and we do not know much about it. That is why we need to be even more alert," Kiik said, adding that the government is trying to collect more information about the variant.

"No country can completely keep the Omicron strain out, but its spread can be obstructed and that is what the government is attempting to do," the health minister said.

Therefore, restrictions being eased should not be expected from the sitting on Tuesday and the government cabinet will discuss maintaining Estonia's current downward trend in infection rates. The government will discuss potential easings at some point in the future, Kiik noted.

He did not wish to discuss a statement by Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas, who said over the weekend that the government could consider allowing negative coronavirus test results to be used as proof for entry. The health minister said the currently imposed regulations say coronavirus certificates reflect recovery or vaccinations and the regulation is valid until January 10.

Testing can show that the person is not infected at the specific moment testing is conducted, but vaccination status is still key, the health minister said.

Experts in Estonia and worldwide have said that all people will eventually have to get vaccinated or they will have to go through the virus themselves, along with its serious and non-serious consequences, Kiik said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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