TALLINN – At a meeting on Sunday, members of the Center Party parliamentary group and ministers found that the vaccination level and the proportion of the population who have had the coronavirus and recovered, in combination with the arrival of the omicron strain, have created a situation that allows to open up Estonian society to all.
The Center Party, junior half of the two-party coalition governing Estonia, proposes to abolish the requirement for a coronavirus certificate within Estonia, which according to the party no longer fulfils its objective, as of Feb. 7 and to move forward with the easing of all restrictions.
According to Center, the coronavirus, which arrived in Estonia in early 2020, has required everyone to make efforts to combat the pandemic, to protect themselves and their loved ones. More than 14,000 people in Estonia have needed hospital treatment due to the coronavirus, and thousands of families have lost loved ones to the disease.
"The restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus and people falling ill have been based on the needs, capacities and knowledge that we had at that moment. We have kept society as open as possible, which, compared to many other countries, has also been possible thanks to the efforts and responsibility of the people," the party said.
"However, in addition to preventing the spread of the virus, the measures have unfortunately had a negative impact not only on the economy and cultural life, but also on the integrity of society, relations between people and the mental health of both older people and young people," it said.
The Center Party believes that restrictions must not be kept for a day longer than necessary. While the omicron strain is spreading extensively, the burden on hospitals has clearly stabilized and, among other things, there has been a significant reduction in the numbers of patients requiring intensive care.
"Now is the moment to abolish the use of the COVID certificate within Estonia and to also start easing other restrictions, and to review the requirements for self-isolation of close contacts. It is time to return to a way of life where we take the existence of the virus into account, but don't let it direct and control us," the statement says, adding that we are increasingly seeing a change in the tactics of combating COVID-19 in the decisions of different countries, as well as in the assessments and recommendations of experts.
The Center Party considers that the requirement for a coronavirus certificate and the mass PCR testing largely resulting from it are no longer justified. Easing the restrictions would provide a positive boost to the economy and thereby to healthcare funding, and would allow Estonia to again move forward as a more cohesive and healthy society, reducing the tensions that have accumulated during the crisis.
"Of course, we must continue to ensure that everyone has access to vaccination, which continues to be the best way to prevent serious illness. And it is important to focus on the protection of at-risk groups," the statement adds.
Thus, the Center Party MPs and ministers propose to abolish the coronavirus certificate as of Feb. 7 and to also start easing other restrictions.