Minister reiterates goal of avoiding any future Covid restrictions
The state's long-term coronavirus plan includes a principle that no further blanket restrictions should be imposed in Estonia in autumn and in the event of any further Covid waves, health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) says.
Kiik made his remarks in an interview on Thursday's edition of "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) following a government announcement that lifting the requirement to wear face-masks in enclosed public spaces would be lifted next week, and not on Friday as had earlier been expected.
Kiik was also doubling down on the statement that any future, blanket Covid restrictions were to be avoided in a situation of viral spread, provided vaccination supplies and uptake were sufficient.
He said: "This goal must exist in a situation where we have enough vaccines for primary, secondary, and booster doses, including fourth doses, plus enough personal protective equipment, the addition of medicines, an improvement in hospital capacity, and that raised awareness of the whole crisis has been seen, and that there have been four waves and five strains.
"The goal must be to cope with these pandemic waves with the normal possible organization of life and society," Kiik added.
Kiik added that closures: "Had been put in place less with each successive wave. During the first wave, we had almost complete lock-down; there were major restrictions in the second wave, but there were significantly fewer in the third and fourth waves."
"The goal is to cope departments without closing the planned treatment to such an extent," he continued.
Waiting a maximum of five or six days for the risk level to reach level "yellow" is needed to see the mask requirement become a recommendation instead, he said.
Overall, there should not be a third successive autumn of restrictions for 2022, while a decision on whether people should take a fourth Covid vaccine dose will become clearer by that time – there is no consensus either in Estonia or Europe as a whole, at the moment, he said.
There is enough experience and awareness now to avoid the halting of scheduled treatments, as had happened in 2020 and 2021, this time around also, Kiik said.
The government said Thursday that the "yellow" Covid risk level was likely to be reached a week from then, i.e. on April 7.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said: "We have repeatedly seen how insidious and consistent this virus is. Therefore, we must be sure that the time is really ripe for any relief."
The health minister had told weekly Maaleht in an interview earlier this week that the goal was to avoid having to impose any further coronavirus restrictions.
From today, April 1, presenting a Covid certificate upon arrival in Estonia from a foreign state will no longer be a requirement, for EU/EEA states, and several other European countries including the U.K. and Switzerland.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte