PHOTOS: The people of Estonia’s Saaremaa island protest stricter restrictions

The people in Saaremaa on 26 April staged a silent protest to persuade the Estonian government to abolish the restrictions that are stricter in the island than in the mainland; the government instituted the tough restrictions in March to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Since the virus has by now shown downwards trends in Saaremaa, the local businessmen and people want for the government to abolish the restrictions in the island that are stricter than in the mainland. 

In the past week, the local businesspeople have sent numerous letters to the government and on 26 April, the people of the island were organising a protest actions with the message – “we’ve had enough of the stricter isolation”.

“We don’t want a mass gathering. Everyone can come in front of their house or on their street – it doesn’t have to be the centre of Kuressaare – sits there with their chair for half an hour. It’s a so-called silent protest,” Andres Tinno, the director of the Kuressaare hobby centre, told Delfi on 25 April, adding that they don’t agree with the tougher isolation. 

“We won’t make noise, we don’t want a mass gathering, but somehow we have to make ourselves heard.”

The people have been understanding and now ask the government to do the same

Saaremaa borough chairperson, Madis Kallas, told Postimees that the restrictions imposed to the island had been so far completely justified and thanks to the people’s adherence to the rules, the island has now managed to get the contagion under control.

“The businessmen and people of Saaremaa wish they were treated equally with other regions in Estonia and the additional restrictions that were applied to Saaremaa and Muhumaa were abolished,” Kallas told the newspaper. He said the people of Saaremaa have adhered to the restrictions very well and have been very understanding, so now the people are asking the government to do the same.

The Estonian social minister, Tanel Kiik, told Delfi that the government will discuss the Saaremaa situation on Monday, 27 April; it will take into the account the statements from the Health Board and the scientists and then decide if the restrictions can be eased.

The rules in Saaremaa currently are stricter than anywhere else in Estonia. Only grocery stores, pharmacies, parcel lockers, post offices, and medical and optical supply stores are open. All dine-in restaurants are closed, take-away and delivery is operational. All plastic surgery, beauty services (barbers and hairdressers, manicure, pedicure, beauticians, tattoo parlours and tanning salons), massage parlours and rehabilitation services are closed. The order also shut down all libraries.

For the latest developments in Estonia, follow our special blog on coronavirus.

Cover: People in Saaremaa staged a silent protest on 26 April to persuade the government to abolish the restrictions in the island that are stricter than in the mainland. Photo by Kristina Mägi.

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