The government imposed stricter restrictions to control the coronavirus

01.03.2021 | 15:15

Stenbock House, 26 February 2021 – At an e-session today, the government approved stricter measures in various areas to curb the accelerating growth of the coronavirus, with new requirements valid until 28 March.
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According to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, taking into account the proposals of researchers and considering all the circumstances, the government established nationwide additional rules because in recent weeks, the number of people infected with the coronavirus and the number of patients hospitalised has grown rapidly. With these restrictions, the government seeks to ensure that hospitals maintain the capacity to receive new patients and continue scheduled treatment.

The purpose of the restrictions is to first stabilise and then reduce both the rate of infection and the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital. This requires reducing human contacts and halting the spread of the virus. “Until the spread of the virus has subsided and a sufficient number of people have been vaccinated, we must continue to work together and adhere to the agreed rules. In addition to the restrictions, people’s sense of responsibility is very important. We all have to avoid close contacts and protect ourselves by keeping distance and wearing a mask,” said Kallas.

Education

From 1 to 28 March, the usual teaching in general education schools will continue only for students in grades 1 to 4. Other students are not allowed to be in the study buildings during this time. From Monday, the ban on entering school buildings also applies to vocational education institutions, institutions of professional higher education, and universities.

Students can be in the study buildings only if they need educational support services, counselling to achieve learning outcomes, participate in practical training, take examinations or tests, or participate in olympiads.

When in study rooms, students must be dispersed and the 2 + 2 rule must be followed outside the study room, pursuant to which up to two persons may be and move around together while keeping at least two metres of distance from others. The requirement for dispersal and other measures necessary to prevent the spread of the virus apply to both students and staff. The educational institution must also ensure that older students, teachers, and all other staff wear a mask. Children under the age of 12 do not have to wear a mask.

The restrictions do not apply to schools where the majority of students receive enhanced support or special support, as well as on the activities of people with disabilities. The restrictions also do not apply to educational institutions that have separate classes for students with special educational needs or students who need support services.

Hobby education and activities, refresher training and refresher courses, and youth work and sports

Indoor group activities or training in the form of hobby education and activities, refresher training and courses, and youth work and sports for children, young people, and adults are not permitted until 28 March. Activities or trainings are allowed alone or in pairs, for example with a personal trainer or training partner, ensuring that a distance of at least two metres is kept with other people. The restriction does not apply to families. Doubles are also allowed in sports that fall under the definition of individual sports, such as tennis.

Until now, it had to be ensured indoors that the occupancy of the room would not exceed 50 per cent. From 3 March, however, the permitted occupancy will be reduced to 25 per cent. In order to ensure adequate dispersion and safety, in particular to avoid contact with other people, it is advisable to provide an area of 20 square metres for each pair to carry out the activities.

From 3 March, outdoor sports, training, youth work, hobby activities, hobby education, refresher training, and refresher courses will be subject to a procedure pursuant to which groups of up to 10 people (previously 50), which may not come in contact with other groups, are allowed with a supervisor.

The restrictions do not apply to children in the same kindergarten class who are together in the same group on a daily basis and to those students who are allowed to be in educational buildings and who study in the same class because they come into contact on a daily basis. In addition, the restrictions do not apply to professional sports activities and activities of people with disabilities.

Sports competitions and sports and fitness events are generally not allowed. Only sports competitions without spectators are allowed for professional athletes in the competitive system of sports governing bodies, members and candidates of adult and youth Estonian national teams, and players in premier and championship leagues.

Public meetings, events, services, entertainment

Public services and other religious services, as well as public meetings and events with and without stationary seating, including conferences, theatre performances, concerts, and cinema screenings, are not allowed indoors from 3 to 28 March. Restrictions do not apply to virtual events that do not involve people other than the performers and the staff for the broadcast. However, participants must adhere to the 2 + 2 rule and disinfection requirements.

It is also forbidden to be in places where entertainment services are provided, such as casinos, nightclubs, bowling alleys or pool halls, or children’s playrooms, as well as museums and exhibitions from 3 to 28 March.

Outdoor entertainment, services, events, and meetings, as well as visits to museums and exhibitions are allowed in groups of up to 10 people. However, it must be ensured that groups do not come into contact with other groups. No events are allowed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Saunas, spas, swimming pools, and water parks

Visiting public saunas, spas, swimming pools, and water parks is generally not allowed until 28 March. Visitors of these establishments may stay in service halls, such as hair or manicure salons, as well as accommodation and catering establishments, provided that the rules generally laid down for these establishments are complied with. Individual swimming is also allowed in indoor swimming pools.

Catering

From 3 March, catering establishments may be open until 6 p.m., after which only take-away food sale is allowed. The 50 per cent occupancy rule will continue to apply, which means that up to 50 per cent of the space provided for customers may be filled in the sales or service hall of a catering establishment. In addition, the 2 + 2 rule must be followed in catering establishments, i.e. up to two persons may be and move around together while keeping at least two metres of distance from others. The restriction does not apply to families. Visitors must also wear a mask when moving in the catering establishments.

The restriction on opening hours and occupancy does not apply on board of aircraft used for international carriage of passengers. The restriction on opening hours also does not apply to places of business inside the security restricted area of an international airport, in the waiting area of a passenger terminal of an international port, located beyond the boarding gates in the waiting area, and on ferries. The restriction also does not apply to petrol stations if the service provider ensures that its customers will not consume any food or beverages on the premises.

The government introduced additional measures because the coronavirus is widespread throughout Estonia and the number of infections is very high. The aim of the additional measures is to further reduce contacts between people and prevent larger gatherings of people, and thus, to stop the spread of the virus.

The order is published in Riigi Teataja and on the website kriis.ee.

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