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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 20.01.2021, 11:31

Estonia makes masks mandatory in public indoor environments

BC, Tallinn, 23.11.2020.Print version
At a teleworking session on Monday, the Estonian government approved additional anti-coronavirus measures agreed upon on Friday last week in order to protect the health and lives of Estonian people and prevent the health care system from being put under an excessive strain; among other restrictions, wearing a mask will be made mandatory in public indoor environments from Tuesday.

Restrictions regarding public meetings, events and entertainment with fixed seating are to step into effect from Saturday, Nov. 28. The restrictions will be reviewed every two weeks.


Prime Minister Juri Ratas said that with the infection rate remaining high in Estonia, the coronavirus is a threat to people across the country.  "Without additional restrictions, our health care system may become overburdened. Normal coping of other areas is also at risk," he said. "The aim of restrictions is to keep life in Estonia as open as possible," he noted, highlighting the importance of individual responsibility in adhering to restrictions.


The premier added that in connection to this, the government has refrained from introducing absolute restrictions and fully closing any establishments.


The new restrictions are supported by both the Health Board and the researchers advising the government.


Wearing a mask or covering one's nose and mouth in public indoor environments, including on public transport and service places, is to become mandatory from Tuesday. The obligation to wear a mask or cover one's mouth and nose will not apply to people who should not do it on medical grounds, as well as to children under 12 years of age. A mask also does not have to be worn when there is sufficient distance and in other justified cases. 


Public indoor environments are spaces intended for public use, entry to which does not require any prior registration -- these are places where many people who do not come into contact with one another on a daily basis are moving around. Public transport is also considered a public indoor environment.


The so-called 2+2 rule must be followed everywhere in public indoor spaces, which means that two people can move together but keep a distance of two metres from other people. This applies, for example, to bank branches, museums, exhibitions, hairdressing and beauty salons, public pools and saunas. The restriction does not apply to families or occasions in which adherence to the requirement cannot be reasonably guaranteed, for instance on crowded public transport. In the latter situation, passengers must wear a mask and keep the longest possible distance from other people.


The current 10+2 rule will continue to apply in catering establishments and places where entertainment services are provided. The rule means that a group may include up to 10 people, but they have to keep a distance of two metres from others. These restrictions do not apply to families and to occasions in which adherence thereto cannot be reasonably guaranteed.

From Nov. 28, the number of participants will be capped at 400 in public indoor events with fixed seating, at 250 in other indoor events and at 500 in outdoor environments. The restriction will not apply to children’s playrooms.


Outside areas with fixed seating, people are required to move around according to the 2+2 rule instead of in groups of 10 people. The requirement applies to spaces for public use, such as cloakrooms, lobbies and other similar environments. The requirement does not apply to families and to occasions in which adherence to the requirement cannot be reasonably guaranteed.


The restriction will step into effect later than other measures to enable for theaters and other organizers of events with fixed seating to make the necessary arrangements to ensure compliance.  Wearing a mask or covering one's face and mouth is obligatory on public transport. If possible, a distance of two meters must be kept from other people.


Up to two spectators may be present and traveling together at public sporting or exercise events, keeping a distance of at least two meters from others, except for families moving or staying together, or where such conditions cannot reasonably be guaranteed. The organizer must ensure up to 50 percent occupancy and the number of participants in a sports or exercise event does not exceed 250 people.


Spectators are required to wear a mask in indoor spaces. The requirement does not apply to children aged below 12 or to people who should or cannot not do it on medical grounds or due to the nature of the activity. The conditions do not apply to primary, basic and secondary education activities.


The condition of up to 50 percent occupancy and the limit of 250 people do not apply to professional and semi-professional sports activities in the competition system of the sports federation.

Organizers of sports competitions must ensure the dispersal of people and up to 50 percent occupancy indoors. The number of participants must not exceed 250 people in indoor events and 500 people in outdoor events. Spectators must wear a mask indoors.


Occupancy will be capped at 50% from Nov. 28 in Harju and East-Viru counties in all indoor spaces with fixed seating, such as theaters, cinemas, concert halls and churches as well as in public events and meetings and entertainment activities. Wearing a mask or covering one's nose and mouth is mandatory at such events.


The maximum number of participants in indoor spaces with fixed seating is 400; elsewhere else, it is 250. For outdoor events, the maximum number is 500. The restrictions do not apply to children's playrooms. Adherence to the 2+2 rule is required when moving around outside the area with fixed seating.


The restriction will step into effect later than other measures to enable for theaters and other organizers of events with fixed seating to make the necessary arrangements to ensure compliance. 


A group limit of 10 people is set for indoor hobby activities, refresher courses and refresher training in Harju and East-Viru counties. Event organizers must ensure that members of different groups do not come into contact with one another. The obligation to wear a mask or cover one's nose and mouth will apply to people over 12 years of age. The principle of reasonableness must be followed.


Items for public use must be disinfected after each use; the service provider must guarantee the availability of disinfectants and compliance with disinfection requirements according to instructions by the Health Board.


These restrictions do not apply to training related to military defense or internal security.


Group training in Harju and East-Viru counties can be performed in groups of 10 people. For example, this applies to indoor fitness classes and other similar training activities. The restriction does not apply to professional and semi-professional sports under the auspices of sports governing bodies, including youth sports and extracurricular sports activities. Separation between groups must be guaranteed.


Up to two spectators may be present and traveling together at indoor public sporting or exercise events, keeping a distance of at least two meters from others, except for families or where such conditions cannot reasonably be guaranteed.


Spectators are required to wear a mask in indoor spaces. The requirement does not apply to children aged below 12 or to people who should or cannot not do it on medical grounds or due to the nature of the activity.


The condition of up to 50 percent occupancy and the limit of 250 people do not apply to professional and semi-professional sports activities in the competition system of the sports federation. This also does not apply to youth sports, that is to the athletes and teams participating in Estonian title competitions organized by the Sports Association. 


The regulation of distance learning in Harju County and East-Viru County schools is being developed by the Health Board in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research. 


A maximum penalty payment of 9,600 can be meted out for failure to comply with the restrictions. The fine can be imposed on repeated occasions, if necessary. 


An order by the Estonian government issued on Monday will see indoor hobby education and activities, refresher courses and refresher training subjected to restrictions in Harju and East-Viru counties.


The restrictions will enter into force on Tuesday, spokespeople for the government told BNS on Monday. "The restrictions are necessary due to the spread of the virus being most rapid in Harju and East-Viru counties; however, we still want to keep life as safe and open as possible," secretary general of the Ministry of Education and Research Mart Laidmets said. "It is crucial from the perspective of the mental and physical wellbeing of children and young people that hobby activities should not be stopped for as long as possible. It is also necessary for many people that refresher courses should continue."


Pursuant to the government's order, indoor hobby education and activities as well as refresher courses and training will only be permitted in these counties on the condition that the number of participants per group does not exceed 10, excluding the coach or instructor. It must also be ensured that different groups do not come into contact with one another.


Participants aged over 12 must wear a mask, unless they have medical reasons for not doing so or the nature of the activity does not enable wearing a mask. 


Items for public use must be disinfected after each use; the service provider must guarantee the availability of disinfectants and compliance with disinfection requirements according to instructions by the Health Board.


These restrictions do not apply to training related to military defense or internal security.


The need for the restrictions will be reviewed every two weeks.






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