Omicron forcing government to reconsider lifting coronavirus restrictions

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform).
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government is debating the implementation and lifting of coronavirus restrictions in light of the new coronavirus strain, Omicron. Previously, it was said some rules would be lifted when the infection rate falls.

Over the weekend Estonia's coronavirus risk level yellow into the "yellow" zone, meaning there is a "moderate risk" of catching the virus and to society.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has previously said when Estonia reaches this level restrictions on entertainment facilities will be removed. Currently, there is an 11 p.m. closing time rule across the country.

Kallas told ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) on Tuesday the emergence of the Omicron variant has changed this.

"At the time this promise was made, there was no knowledge of the new Omicron strain and unfortunately we still know very little about it. So we have decided to wait a few days so the government can know if it is a more dangerous strain or not," she said.

The new strain has worried the entertainment and hotels sector which would like to plan New Year's Eve parties but are currently unable to do so.

Ave Svarts, a member of the board of Tallink Hotels, said more parties have been planned for this year than last but many people are still cautious. Many people want to know if the 11 p.m. curfew will be in place or not.

"We hope and expect that they could last longer. So the new year can occur during a party," she told AK.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said the government does not want to lift the restrictions only to find the new strain could bring serious consequences if it spreads across Estonia.

"I think it will be clear next week," Kiik told AK.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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