The Government Committee working to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and addressing public health and economic problems approved the crisis exit strategy plan. Now it will be submitted to the Parliament and other partners for their proposals, and the Government will approve the strategy after the discussions next week.
The person in charge of the emergency situation, Prime Minister Mr Jüri Ratas explained that the exit strategy aims to define the principles and stages of easing of restrictions and the following steps so that we can monitor developments in the country due to the spread of coronavirus on a scientific basis and respond to them appropriately. “Estonia aims to limit the spread of coronavirus and help our economy to recover as quickly as possible. We want to emerge from the crisis as a stronger and more cohesive society,” said the Prime Minister.
The decrease in the number of new cases of infections confirms the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board assessment that the restrictions imposed have worked and can be reduced with caution. “At the same time, we need to be certain that this outcome is final. Our aim is to make gradual changes so that the people of Estonia will not be hit by a new widespread wave of infections. Every step must be followed by sufficient time to assess the situation and to consider the new risk of infection. It is also necessary to assess the impact of easing of restrictions on people’s coping abilities and economic performance,” said Ratas.
“We have to take our daily life back from the coronavirus. We have been able to control the spread of the virus because we worked on it all together as a society. Our health care system has been fighting hard. Estonia is well equipped with personal protective equipment. People in Estonia have followed the instructions and rules. With the gradual opening of the economy, the rapid recovery of the economy which has experienced setbacks now depends on us all,” added the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister stressed that the easing of restrictions would inevitably entail a risk of a somewhat increase in the number of infected people. Therefore, compliance with the rules of conduct and hygiene, such as compliance with the 2-by-2 rule, use of masks and disinfectants, will continue to be a prerequisite. “Further spread of the virus and the emergence of the entire country from the crisis as quickly as possible, requires continued responsible behaviour from all of us, so that we have no reason to extend the restrictions again,” said Ratas.
The Government Committee will review the mitigation of restrictions in cooperation with scientists and experts once a week.
The exit strategy is divided into three stages. The first was the escalation of the outbreak. In terms of medical indicators, we are now starting a second stage of stabilisation, when we can start gradually easing the restrictions imposed. The third stage is the return to normal, which requires, among other things, preparation for the next possible outbreak of the disease.
The restrictions imposed have been set in the order of priorities, and their impact on the spread of infection has been assessed. Restrictions will be relieved gradually in compliance with certain conditions if the agreed systems of indicators allows it.
The first step is the opening of museums, informal hobby education, and open-air sports activities. Also carrying out certain civil status procedures under limited conditions. The next step is the limited opening of shops and certain types of services in shopping centres.
Gradual restoration of scheduled treatments already started on April 21. If the indicators allow, then schools will be opened from May 15, so that the students about to graduate can prepare for exams and students who need it can get some support.
The exit strategy was developed under the leadership of the Government Office in cooperation with the Government Committee, the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board and experts in various fields.
Key indicators of exit strategy:
1. Number of infected persons per day and the ratio of all tested persons, number of infected persons in the age group 50+.
2. Number of COVID-19 patients in hospital care.
3. Use of intensive care facilities due to COVID-19 (number of beds, per 24h).
4. Access to health care.
5. Preparedness of the population to follow government guidelines and measures.
6. General health of the economy.
7. Ability to implement confidence measures.
8. Epidemiological situation and COVID-19 countermeasures in the region, EU Member States and third countries.