Kallas: it is time for the society to take back control from the coronavirus

08.04.2021 | 14:47

Stenbock House, 8 April 2021 – today at the Riigikogu, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas introduced the plan for organising the Estonian society during the spread of the coronavirus, which describes decision-making principles and required activities to allow Estonia to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
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In her political statement, Kallas said that we have been living with the coronavirus for more than a year and that it is time for the society to take back control from the virus. “We have plenty of science-based knowledge and practical experience to know that we can take and maintain control of the spread of this virus if we agree on specific rules as society that we will abide by. This way, we can keep the Estonian life and economy running and open,” she said.

The prime minister commented that the plan, which was sent for public approval and submitted to the Riigikogu today, reveals a broader course of action for us as a society to operate and become stronger in the context of the coronavirus as well as proposals for actions for the state and every person, organisation, and company to limit the level of danger. “This is the big picture that we make up together. We want to reach a situation where, if the danger level rises, everyone knows what to do to avoid a red risk level,” said Kallas.

To assess the current situation, a four-level risk system will be implemented. Green, yellow, orange, and red are used to mark low, medium, high, and very high risk levels, and at each level, possible activities to limit the spread of the coronavirus are described at the individual, organisation, and state level. Considering the risk level, different fields of activity can create instructions and recommendations for activities based on the specificities of these areas to ensure that people’s health is protected as well as possible and the need for government-imposed restrictions decreases. Among other things, types of restrictions are described that the government will consider if the risk level changes.

According to the prime minister, the aim is not to create a situation where the government sets top-down conditions for people, companies, and organisations. “On the contrary – we want to include all of society to make everyone understand their role and responsibility in limiting the spread of the virus. We want all residents of Estonia and the umbrella organisations and companies operating here to think along and contribute constructive ideas and proposals for joint actions within a field of activity to control the spread of the virus. No one wants their agencies, companies, organisations, or fields of activity locked down – everyone is tired of the restrictions,” she said.

According to Kallas, the Government Office is launching an extensive discussion process to allow all sectors previously affected by restrictions to suggest their proposals for solutions of what each field of activity, organisation, or person can do to decrease the threat of the virus. “This way, we are taking an important step together to avoid the need of locking down the society in the future and take care of the life, economy, and people of Estonia,” she added.

The plan sets six goals which the government uses to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus. Pursuant to the document, the goals are to protect the Estonian people from being infected with the coronavirus, ensure the possibility of acquiring quality education for Estonian children, alleviate the effect of the pandemic on the Estonian economy and employment, support the sustainability of Estonian culture, support the mental health of the Estonian people, and keep cross-border movement as open as possible.

The plan for organising the society during the spread of the coronavirus describes the short-term activities aimed at inhibiting the spread of the virus and alleviating socio-economic effects that will be launched this year and financed from this year’s supplementary budget, as well as long-term activities which may take several years to implement and produce the intended results.

The principles and risk levels described in the document also form the basis for the plan for easing restrictions, which the government will prepare in cooperation with other state authorities next week. The plan for easing restrictions prescribes restrictions and alleviations for various risk levels that the government can consider applying in commerce, service, hobby education and activity, education institutions, and public places based on the spread of the virus and the nature of activities.

The plan for alleviating the effects of the coronavirus will be approved by the government after public consultation on 22 April and its implementation will be coordinated by the Government Office.

The document sent for public consultation can be viewed at https://valitsus.ee/media/3903/download

The full text of the prime minister’s statement: https://valitsus.ee/uudised/peaminister-kaja-kallase-poliitiline-avaldus-riigikogus-08042021

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