Estonian minister: Wearing masks must be mandatory in closed public spaces

  • 2020-04-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab has proposed to the government to implement a requirement until the end of the emergency situation that protective masks must be worn in closed public spaces.

The government is considering gradually opening up museums, shopping malls and, to some extent, schools and other institutions. This only in accordance with the 2+2 movement restriction and other conditions to prevent the spread of infection.

"The obligation to wear a mask is particularly relevant at a time when COVID-19 emergency measures are being relaxed. Many countries require a face mask or face cover to be worn in public when easing restrictions. By the way, surgical masks, other face masks as well as homemade masks are permitted," the minister said.

Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on Thursday that the government will discuss Aab's proposal already on Thursday or, at the latest, on Friday.

According to the prime minister, the obligation to wear a mask could also concern visitors to shopping centers if the shopping centers are allowed to reopen. Ratas said that obtaining masks could be the responsibility of each person.

Aab said that such a requirement and practice definitely reflect society's solidarity in making an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. Above all, it protects other people, but to a large extent also the one wearing the mask. "In my opinion, it is possible to wear a mask on a daily basis. By now, local governments, hospitals, welfare and state agencies have at least a month's supply of personal protective equipment. Various masks are freely available in stores and pharmacies, and as the supply increases in the coming weeks, the prices of masks will hopefully fall as well," he added.

According to him, a surgical protective mask should be preferred, but there are other options. "If enough distance is kept in public places, other face masks are also suitable," the minister said.

The example of Iceland showed that 60 percent of people suffer from coronavirus without symptoms. "Therefore, we can all be potential carriers of the virus. The risk of spreading the virus is reduced by the requirements of social distance, as well as the wearing of masks," Aab said. "I hope that even after the disappearance of the coronavirus, we will consider it the norm to wear protective masks during the viral period."