Government office: Independence day ceremony can go ahead with spectators

Independence Day flag-raising ceremony in the governor's garden in Tallinn, 24 February 2019.
Independence Day flag-raising ceremony in the governor's garden in Tallinn, 24 February 2019. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Next week's independence day flag-raising ceremony on Toompea in Tallinn does not need a special exemption from the state to go ahead, since it will take place in an unrestricted zone, where it is difficult to differentiate between attendees and passers-by, the government office.

The office says that up to 5,000 people can congregate in the vicinity of the governor's garden (Kuberneri aed), adjacent to Toompea Castle and the traditional site of the February 24 flag-raising ceremony.

While the garden itself will not accommodate all 5,000, live-lined screens on the nearby Falgi tee will provide spectators a view of the event, while dignitaries, musicians and others taking part in the ceremony itself will have access to the governor's garden.

A government office communique stated that: "Urban spaces as such (meaning streets or open squares) constitute an unrestricted area, since it is not possible to determine whether a person is inside the boundaries of an event taking place there with a desire to participate in said event, or is just passing by for another purpose."

The office added that provided sufficient anti-Covid measures are taken at the ceremony, such as social distancing, the event must be considered unrestricted.

Under current Covid rules, no more than 2,000 people may attend an outdoor event.

"If the event takes place outdoors in an unrestricted area, the limit of 2,000 participants set out in the Order shall not apply and it shall not be necessary to apply for a special permit from the government of the Republic," the letter added.

The office recommends organizers remain in consultation with the Health Board (Terviseamet) on the event, to ensure maximum public safety.

Last year's event, the first since the pandemic began (the first Covid case in Estonia was reported just days after independence day – ed.) went ahead without spectators, with only musicians, representatives of military and youth organizations, politicians and leaders, religious figures and other dignitaries in attendance.

The final of the annual Eesti Laul competition, which chooses Estonia's representative at the Eurovision Song Contest, obtained a special exemption ahead of being held last week.

While indoor events are still capped at 1,000 participants (performers, staff, audience etc.), this was lifted for the final, which took place at the Saku Suurhall in Tallinn.

The government office had approached the cabinet earlier in the week on the matter, ERR reports (link in Estonian).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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