Estonian government declares emergency situation against coronavirus

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE). Source: Government Communication Office

The Estonian government has declared an emergency situation in connection with the global novel coronavirus pandemic and the likelihood that the virus may spread locally. The emergency situation is in effect through May 1, unless the government should decide otherwise.

Changes in effect under the emergency situation will affect schools, cultural events and ferry travel, and public events are banned.

“The government’s absolute priority is to protect the health of the people in Estonia in the situation that has arisen,” Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) stressed late Thursday night. “An emergency situation is necessary in order to most effectively combat the spread of the coronavirus. The state must be able to give its citizens clear and, if necessary, mandatory orders which will help halt the spread of the virus.”

The prime minister added that state activities alone will no longer be enough to manage the crisis. “We have reached a situation in which each person has to contribute to the defense of public health,” he stressed. “I understand the inconvenience that the declaration of an emergency situation will cause all of us, but it is not just people’s health, but the protection of lives that is at stake.”

Ratas also said that as the spread of the virus is a complex phenomenon that will have an impact on various sectors of life in Estonia, addressing it will thus require extraordinary measures. “Of foremost importance alongside public health is ensuring the effective and operative resolution of economic problems connected to the spread of the virus,” he said.

“The state of emergency caused by the spread of the virus can no longer be resolved without implementing the command organisation or measures provided for in the Emergency Act,” he added.

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