Health Board recommends avoiding crowded New Year's parties

New Year's fireworks at Inglirand on Reidi tee in Tallinn.
New Year's fireworks at Inglirand on Reidi tee in Tallinn.

Although closing time restrictions have been eased to allow people to celebrate the new year, the Health Board has issued a recommendation for people to avoid crowded parties to avoid spreading the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

For the Rescue Board and Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), the turn of the year means a significant increase to the number of calls made. For ambulance services, the workload could increase four-fold, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Thursday.

The most common calls around the new year are related to alcohol consumption, fires and pyrotechnics. "If fireworks do not go off for some reason, you should wait 15 minutes before approaching. Before you place a fireworks battery in the trash, it should be extinguished with snow or water. We have had many fires that have started from unextinguished fireworks," said Rescue Board prevention bureau chief Arvi Uustalu.

The PPA is set to receive some 1,000 calls, double from what it usually receives daily. The increase is most commonly caused by drunk drivers and domestic violence, in addition to life-threatening situations.

"Conflicts are quick to appear from very minor things. For example, a mother and daughter got into a fight about a TV remote and changing channels last year, since alcohol was involved, the consequences can be quite serious. The recommendation from the police would certainly be to call [emergency number] 112 if you hear screams or anything pointing to violence from your neighbors," PPA southern prefecture service chief Ottomar Virk said.

The police official said people have waited a long time to be able to let loose. "In that sense, it is wise to be with friends and to keep an eye on everyone's behavior so that it is still possible to approach the new year on the morning of January 1," Virk said.

Despite the increased spread of COVID-19 recently, closing time restrictions have been lifted for entertainment venues to allow people to celebrate the holiday.

The Health Board has issued a recommendation for people to avoid parties, however. "Only people who feel like it is necessary for them to participate should go to parties. Only vaccinated and tested people should go," Health Board southern region head Tiia Luht said.

Tartu ambulance service chief Veronika Reinhard said New Year's celebrations can be a night of wonders both ways. "We certainly call on people to be attentive and to think if they really need that party and if they do, who they need to party with."

"Truly, this time is even more special because we are not only dealing with excessive alcohol consumption, traumas and conflicts, but also that the virus is very insidious," Reinhard added.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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