The government approved an order concerning the COVID-19 restrictions

23.08.2021 | 00:00

Stenbock House, 23 August 2021 – The government approved an order pursuant to which the obligation to wear a mask will take effect from Thursday, 26 August in those public indoor areas where COVID certificates are not checked. In public spaces where a COVID certificate is required, it must be presented by all customers or participants. The approved order is also the new full text of the COVID restrictions.
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Masks must be worn indoors where COVID infection safety is not checked

From 26 August, masks must be worn indoors where COVID infection safety is not proven. Masks must be worn in all public spaces where anyone can enter and where there are many people who do not come into contact with each other on a daily basis. These are rooms that do not require a COVID certificate.

This applies in particular to trade and service institutions, but also to state and local government institutions. For example, masks must be worn in shops, pharmacies, service points of telecommunication companies or banks, post offices, libraries, as well as in the service points of the Police and Border Guard Board, the Social Insurance Board, or the Health Insurance Fund, and elsewhere.

The obligation to wear a mask does not apply to children under the age of 12 or if wearing a mask is not reasonable for health or other valid reasons.

The requirement to wear a mask remains in place on public transport, including trains and ferries. The requirement to wear a mask also remains in place at church services and other public religious services where the number of participants indoors does not exceed 50 people (100 outdoors) or the occupancy of the room is up to 50 per cent. If the number of participants exceeds these limits, infection safety must be proved.

In public spaces where the COVID certificate is required, the certificate must be presented by all customers or participants

From 26 August, all participants (from the age of 18) must present the COVID certificate for evidence of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or showing a negative test result in most organised activities.

This means that the COVID certificate must be presented for sport, training, youth work, hobby activities and education, refresher training and refresher courses; at sports competitions and sports and exercise events; in saunas, spas, water parks, and swimming pools; at public meetings and events, including in theatres and cinemas, at concerts (including in churches) and conferences; in museums and exhibition halls; for entertainment services; and for eating and drinking on site in catering establishments. All participants must also prove their infection safety when the activity or event takes place at the place where the service is provided, such as when renting a catering establishment or ordering a theatre performance. However, a COVID certificate is not required when entering a catering establishment to pick up a take-away order, but then, a mask must be worn.

The COVID certificate does not need to be presented for outdoor events with an unlimited territory.

In the case of indoor activities, in addition to checking the certificates or testing the participants for COVID-19, it is important to ensure dispersal and compliance with disinfection requirements.

The organisers are obliged to check the validity of the COVID certificates. In case of reasonable doubt, the person must be asked for an identity document.

The order also allows coronavirus testing in pharmacies, which allows rapid testing in more places and is more easily accessible to people. A more detailed order will be developed as instructions by the Health Board or the instructions of the Health Board on self-testing will be supplemented. The result of the rapid test taken in pharmacies is valid for up to 48 hours and can only be used in places where the COVID certificate is required nationally.

The government based the restrictions imposed by the order on the assessment of the Health Board in which the Health Board took into account the prognosis of coronavirus infection, the vaccination coverage of the population, and the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19. The assessment takes into account, among other things, that the delta strain accounts for more than 90 per cent of infections in Estonia and that the infectivity of this strain is 60 per cent higher than the coronavirus alpha strain prevalent at the beginning of the epidemic. In addition, due to the delta strain, secondary cases infect tertiary cases more easily than before. Given that 45.57% of the population had completed the vaccination course as at 19 August, when the government adopted a decision in principle on the restrictions, the Health Board estimates that the vaccination coverage is not sufficient to prevent a possible increase in the number of cases caused by the delta strain.

The obligation to wear a mask and to present a COVID certificate is introduced to ensure the continuity of the healthcare system. Considering the current spread of COVID-19 in Estonia and the projected upward trend in the spread of the infection, the number of COVID-19 cases affects the availability of regular medical care.

As at 21 August, the total COVID resource of hospitals was 204 beds, of which 48.5% (99 beds) were occupied by COVID-19 patients. The total intensive care resource for COVID was 22 beds, of which 59% (13 beds) were occupied by COVID-19 patients. The total general care resource for COVID was 156 beds, of which 53% (82 beds) were occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The number of cases in the last 14 days has increased in all counties except Ida-Viru County. The highest increase is in Valga County (139.4%), Jõgeva County (136.8%), and Saare County (90.9%). The regions with the highest number of cases are Võru County (477.2 per 100,000 inhabitants), Põlva County (446.3 per 100,000 inhabitants), Pärnu County (385.2 per 100,000 inhabitants), Tartu County (341.8 per 100,000 inhabitants), Jõgeva County (316.4 per 100,000 inhabitants), and Rapla County (303.5 per 100,000 inhabitants).

The order approved today introduces a new consolidated text instead of the current Government Order No. 282

The new order changes the structure and wording of the text and divides the sectoral restrictions into separate parts.

The first part sets out the requirements for testing and self-isolation related to the crossing of the state border, in which no fundamental changes are made. The second part imposes national restrictions and measures if certificates are not checked. The third part lays down the rules relating to the activities where the certificate is required and the fourth part lays down the implementing provisions for the entry into force of the order.

The Government Communication Unit will publish the order and the explanatory memorandum on the website The new order will also be published in Riigi Teataja.

Government Communication Unit