Estonian govt approves new COVID-19 restrictions

  • 2021-10-28
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The Estonian government on Thursday approved additional restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as a result of which masks must be worn also in indoor public spaces from Friday.

Starting Friday, the obligation to wear a mask indoors extends to all checked activities and locations, the obligation to wear a mask applies to everyone who is at least 12 years old, government spokespeople said.

Masks must be worn indoors by adults during hobby activities and education, refresher training and at conferences; in the theater, at concerts and in cinemas; at entertainment services, museums and exhibitions, as well as in the public areas of catering establishments. Masks must also be worn at indoor public meetings and other events. Masks must also be worn in public spaces for sports, training, sports competitions and sports and exercise events, as well as in saunas, spas, swimming pools and water parks. Masks do not have to be worn when it is not possible, for example when directly exercising and in contact with water, as well as when eating in a restaurant.

If wearing a mask is contraindicated for health reasons, the person must confirm this with a corresponding medical certificate. Due to the aerosol spread of the coronavirus delta strain, it is strongly recommended to wear medical masks or equivalent.

Employees are exempted from the obligation to wear a mask if the employer has provided for the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus in another way in the risk analysis of a specific work environment.

From Nov. 1, 12- to 17-year-olds (inclusive) must also submit a COVID-19 certificate in order to gain access to checked activities. For minors, in addition to proof of completion of a vaccination course or recovery from the disease, proof of a negative result to a coronavirus PCR or antigen-RT test is also valid for access to events and activities. The PCR test must be performed no more than 72 hours and the antigen-RT test no more than 48 hours before the event and the test must be performed by a healthcare provider. In addition, the result of a rapid antigen test performed in a general pharmacy is also accepted.

In addition to the vaccination or recovery certificate, a test certificate will also be valid for minors, as they gained access to vaccination significantly later than adults.

Minors will not be required to submit a COVID-19 certificate in hobby education and activities, youth work, refresher training and education, or in sports and training. In all these areas, children and young people are subject to the same testing, close contact and self-isolation procedures as in school life.

Children at least 12 years old must start presenting a COVID-19 certificate at a theater, concert or cinema; entertainment services, museums and exhibitions, catering facilities for eating and drinking on site; as well as in saunas, spas, water parks, and the like.

Only proof of vaccination or recovery will continue to be valid for those aged 18 and over.

From Nov. 1, in order to participate in checked events and activities, an identity document must be presented together with the COVID-19 certificate. This means that the organizer will also have to establish the identity of the certificate holder when verifying the COVID-19 certificate. Until now, visitors had to be asked for an identity document only in case of reasonable doubt.

From Nov. 1, a restriction on movement in public indoor areas will be introduced from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. The restriction does not apply to the opening hours of the service area of shops and service providers, as well as to the purchase of food for takeaway from catering establishments.

Nightclubs and clubs, bars and other entertainment and leisure establishments will be mainly affected by the operating time restrictions. Cinemas, theaters and concert halls, museums and exhibition halls must also close their doors. The restriction also applies to water parks, spas, public saunas, swimming pools, and the like. Sports competitions and events must also end by 11 p.m.

The government's communications office will publish the order of Thursday's decisions and an explanatory memorandum on the website

In addition, members of the government considered it necessary to issue a guideline to cancel all major events in the public sector that are not absolutely necessary until Jan. 10.

The additional guideline of members of the government concerns the goal of increasing the full vaccination coverage of government agencies, state agencies and state-owned private legal entities to 90 percent. All local governments, together with their agencies, must strive for the same goal.

In order to break the chains of coronavirus infection in the school environment as soon as possible, the government also supported the proposal of the Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna to introduce weekly monitoring testing in general education and vocational schools.

As monitoring testing is not part of the regulation of restrictions, it is not regulated at the level of government order.