Today, the Riigikogu discussed how to live with the coronavirus as a matter of significant national importance initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction.
Kaja Kallas, Chairman of the Reform Party Faction, said that the virus had left a deep imprint on this year and we would definitely have to face this virus next year as well. “It may be that COVID-19 will never disappear and we simply have to learn to live with it. Hand sanitising, wearing masks, avoiding crowded places and self-isolation are phenomena with which we must be prepared to live for some time to come,” Kallas said.
In her speech, Kallas discussed the impact of the corona crisis on people’s mental health, children’s and young people’s education, the labour market, the tourism sector and economy more broadly.
Irja Lutsar, Professor of Medical Microbiology and Virology at the University of Tartu, spoke in her report about the current situation in the world and the lessons to be taken from this spring.
In Lutsar’s words, statistics showed that coronavirus was not going to disappear and was showing no signs of letting up. According to her, Europe, the United States of America and South America are hotspots of infection. In her words, Ida-Viru County is the current focus of infection in Estonia.
As a lesson to be learned, Lutsar pointed out that every country needed to develop its own plan and methods. What works in one country may not work in another. As another lesson, she mentioned the complete lockdown of the country this spring. “I definitely do not support a complete lockdown of the country, but it was inevitable this spring,” Lutsar said. She also considered it important that society had accepted the opinion of experts and the Government had very strongly supported science and a science-based approach.
In Lutsar’s opinion, it is necessary to maintain a focused approach for as long as possible and to think first of all of the people. “SARS is not letting up in Estonia or in the world and the majority of people in Estonia have no immunity. No vaccine will actually be on the market before next year and there is no super-effective medicine on the horizon,” Lutsar admitted. “Keeping distance is the only method to have solid scientific evidence.”
Feliks Mägus, CEO of Tallinn Nordic Hotel Forum, pointed out in his report that the activities of tourism sector had essentially been prohibited by law since March, and the fall of economic indicators had been disastrous.
“The turnover of travel agents and tourism agencies has fallen by 90 per cent, the turnover of accommodation establishments by 65 per cent, including the turnover of accommodation businesses in Tallinn by 81 per cent. The number of foreign visitors has dropped by 84 per cent. The holding of international conferences has stopped and there is no cruise tourism,” Mägus detailed. As a result of this, in his words, the number of unemployed in the sector is approaching 10,000 and unfortunately the downward trend is continuing. The wage support measure that would help keep half of the employees on salary should be around 45 million euro, in Mägus’ words.
Edward Laane, member of Management Board of the Kuressaare Hospital Foundation, gave an overview of the breakout of the coronavirus crisis and the resolution of the crisis in Saaremaa. In conclusion, Laane noted that at present both the planned and extraordinary work, the planned out-patient work and physiotherapy group sessions were going on in Kuressaare hospital, but there were a number of restrictions. They included a ban on visits to patients, an obligation to wear masks and testing before hospitalisation so that no infected patients would come to the hospital.
During the debate, Signe Riisalo (Reform Party), Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party), Mihhail Lotman (Isamaa), Viktor Vassiljev (Centre Party), Urmas Espenberg (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Helmen Kütt (Social Democratic Party) and Hele Everaus (Reform Party) took the floor.
Two Bills passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure (securing of action based on infringement of intellectual property rights) (231 SE), initiated by the Government.
The purpose of the Bill is to enable faster and more effective protection in cases of alleged infringement of copyright, rights related to copyright and industrial property rights. For this, the Bill provides for a possibility in such cases, in order to secure an action, to apply for a court to obligate the intermediary whose services are used in the infringement of rights to take measures to stop or prevent the infringement.
In the event of an infringement of intellectual property rights that consists of making certain content available on the Internet, the amendments made by the Bill will enable to require the intermediary for example to take the content down temporarily or to prevent access to it for the time of judicial proceedings. In particular, in the case of infringements occurring on the Internet, the intermediary is often in the best position to stop the infringement quickly and efficiently.
The obligation to enable rightholders also to apply for a court to issue provisional and precautionary precepts in respect of intermediaries in the event of an infringement of intellectual property rights arises from European Parliament and Council directives.
The Bill on Amendments to the Law of Obligations Act (lease relationships) (232 SE), initiated by the Government.
The main aim of drafting the Bill is to stimulate and develop the leasing market and thereby to offer people the option of leasing a place of residence as a sensible alternative to owning a home. The lease regulation has remained unchanged for nearly 20 years.
As a result of the amendments, market participants will be enabled to regulate their mutual relations more flexibly, at the same time keeping in mind the need to rely on balanced solutions.
For example, the absolute ban on contractual penalty in the case of residential lease contracts will be eliminated and in the future it will be possible for parties to agree on the distribution of the repair obligation. According to the Bill, the lessor will have the right to cancel the contract due to delay in payment by the lessee in the event of smaller arrears or a shorter delay (two months instead of three).
At the same time, the Bill provides for restrictions on the amount of contractual penalty, several content and format requirements for agreements on the repair obligation, as well as more extensive notification obligations for lessor upon cancellation due to delay in payment.
Photos (Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu)
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
The video recording of the sitting can be viewed later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)