All parties support phasing out coronavirus certificates in future
In principle, all parties in the Riigikogu support the need to start preparing for the phasing out of the coronavirus certificate, as recommended by the Chairman of the Center Party Jüri Ratas. However, the majority also point out the populist nature of the initiative.
"I think that's part of what the Center Party is doing today. If you look at the overall attitude of the Center Party, their demands are always on the sunny side. When everybody can see that the Omicron wave is increasing and we're all waiting for the end of the marathon, then to say we will bring the finish line closer, is, of course, populist," Kristen Michal, a member of the board of the Center Party's Coalition Partner's Reform Party, told ERR on Wednesday.
"It's mainly because they take a populist position and put pressure on the government stating that they want to free society faster than the government would want to," Michal said.
He said that removing the coronavirus certificate may be on the agenda in a few weeks or a month, but a review of the future organization of coronavirus measures could already begin.
"And during that time, of course, we can already theoretically discuss what life could be like after this wave: whether rapid tests will be introduced, a vaccination certificate will be added, recovery certificate. The expectation is that one day we may do away with them," Michal said.
Michal stated that this was his personal position.
Siim Pohlak, a member of the opposition Estonian Conservative People's Party (ERKE), said EKRE was still of the opinion the coronavirus certificate should be removed and pointed out that the Center Party did not support the initiative of his faction in this regard.
"A few weeks ago, the Riigikogu voted on a draft resolution submitted by the EKRE faction 'Accepting a negative coronavirus test as evidence of infectious safety'. By supporting this decision, the Center Party could have taken an important step closer to removing the coronavirus certificate, but unfortunately, their faction abstained from voting and the Reform Party's view of continuing restrictions and the proofing system now clearly dominates," Pohlak said.
"Given today's situation, where vaccinated people also get infected, the coronavirus certificate has lost its purpose and EKRE believes that the certificate should be removed. If the Center Party wants to move from words to deeds, we have the votes in the Riigikogu," Pohlak said.
Priit Sibul, a member of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, was also critical of Ratas, saying that he also thinks that the coronavirus certificate should be removed and rapid testing restored.
"Isamaa has been proposing it for a long time. While the government is following the footsteps of the coronavirus, then the Center Party is following the footsteps of Isamaa Party's ideas," Sibul said. "Already in December, Isamaa supported the introduction of rapid tests."
Lauri Läänemets, the deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party, told ERR that he thought the idea of losing the coronavirus certificate and starting to use more rapid tests was reasonable, although, unlike the government, he did not have the use of experts to get more accurate assessments.
"From my own experience, it seems that the rapid test shows much better than the vaccination. I have been vaccinated twice, but I have already had Covid-19 twice. So it doesn't seem to save me from being transmitted," Läänemets said. "Perhaps then, looking aside, it seems reasonable for society to function normally."
Estonia must prepare for the national abolition of the vaccination certificate, the chairman of the Center Party Jüri Ratas announced on Wednesday.
"We also need to make serious preparations for the loss of Covid certificates domestically. It will not happen overnight, it will take more time. But I think we need to move forward," Ratas wrote on social media.
"The introduction of Covid certificate has certainly been the right thing to do, but it's out of date. As a travel document, it will remain with us for some time to come."
There will be no discussion about the coronavirus certificate next week
Toivo Maimets, the head of the scientific council said that the constant checking of coronavirus certificates is a very big burden for companies, and although the numbers of newly infected people are growing, discussions need to be had.
"We won't live with this coronavirus certificate forever. Maybe today it may seem unbelievable when the number of infected people is increasing, but we have to think about what will happen in the future and how will we exit this situation," he told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera".
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Editor: Roberta Vaino