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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Focus: COVID-19 vaccination, self-isolation, Crossing the Estonian border, personal protection equipment

 

How can I get a third dose of the vaccine, i.e. a booster dose? Do the persons who have received a complementary dose have the same rights as those who have completed the course of vaccinations?

A COVID-19 booster dose or a third shot is necessary for people over the age of 65, adult residents of care homes, and employees in the fields of health care, social care and education, if more than half a year (six months) have passed since the course of vaccinations. The booster doses are administered with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty regardless of what vaccine the person received earlier.

Those who have received a complementary dose (including an additional dose and a booster dose) are subject to the same exemptions as currently fully vaccinated persons. This means that if no more than a year has passed since receiving the complementary dose, an asymptomatic person who has received an additional or a booster dose does not have to stay in self-isolation as a close contact or when entering Estonia, may participate in events and activities, eat on the spot at restaurants etc. with a COVID certificate.

Who gets a booster dose and how?

If you meet the above mentioned requirements and at least six months have passed since your last shot:

65+ year olds

  • Contact your family doctor. Booster shots are primarily administered by family doctors. If you are also planning on receiving a free flu vaccine from the family doctor, it is possible to receive both shots on the same day but preferably in different arms.
  • If necessary, you can also get vaccinated in other nearby vaccination locations. Please book an appointment to the nearest vaccinator by phone or the digital registry of the medical institution itself -- it is currently not yet possible to book appointments for a third dose in the national digital registry.
  • Important! Getting COVID-19 is very dangerous at a higher age and a booster dose lowers the risks significantly: according to Israeli data, in the 70+ age group, the infections decrease five times two weeks after receiving the third dose of the vaccine, getting sick decreases 11 times and severe infections almost 20 times.

Adult resident and employee of a care home:

  • The vaccination is generally organised by the care home's provider of nursing services.

Employee in the field of education:

  • The vaccination on school employees is organised by the school nurse who performs the vaccinations herself or directs the employees to the nearest vaccinator. In order to get vaccinated, contact your school nurse who will give you further instructions. NB! If the school nurse directs to the nearest vaccinator, the appointment needs to be booked by phone or from the digital registry of the medical institution. It is currently not yet possible to book appointments for third doses in the national digital registry.
  • The employees of kindergartens, hobby schools and institutions of higher education can turn to the vaccinator of their county to get vaccinated.

Employees in the fields of health care and social care:

  • Health care institutions generally vaccinate their staff themselves or direct them to the vaccinator of their county to get vaccinated.
  • The employees in the field of social care can turn to the vaccinator of their county to get vaccinated.

For people with immune deficiency the booster dose means a fourth shot which should be administered when at least half a year has passed since the additional or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine -- consult your doctor about the necessity of a booster shot.

Based on current knowledge, a booster dose is not necessary for people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have been vaccinated with one or two doses, and people who have been infected repeatedly.

Booster doses are also administered to other adults (starting from 18 years of age) who want them but no sooner than after eight months have passed since the end of the primary course of vaccinations. The booster shot can be received in the nearest vaccination location (see: vaktsineeri.ee).

What are the most common side effects of a booster dose or a third shot?

The post-vaccination reactions are similar to the side effects of the second dose: in the clinical studies, the most common were pain in the injection site and fatigue, less common were headache, muscle and joint pain and chills.

If the clients have to wear a protective mask, do the same requirements apply to the employees as well? Is an employee allowed to wear a visor?

It is obligatory to behave in accordance with the risk analysis of the employer.

If the employer has, in the working environment risk analysis, come to the conclusion that the risks related to the spread of the virus have been lowered sufficiently with the use of other personal protective equipment, e.g. a visor or a protective glass, the employer does not have to wear a protective mask.

If the risk analysis has established that wearing a protective mask is necessary to safely perform the professional duties, the employee is obligated to wear a mask.

It is the task of the employer to assess the risks present in the working environment (including risks related to the spread of the virus), their effect on the health of the employee, and enact measures to lower the risks, in accordance with the results of the analysis. If it is necessary to carry out professional duties safely, the employer's risk analysis might also foresee the vaccination of employees, regular testing, reorganisation of work etc. in addition to using personal protective equipment as pre-emptive measures.

More information on lowering the risks during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in the Tööelu (Work Life) portal (in Estonian).

Are unvaccinated people allowed to keep going to work?

Yes, an unvaccinated person may keep going to work if the employer's risk analysis has reached the conclusion that the risk related to the spread of the virus have been lowered sufficiently with other pre-emptive measures like the use of personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask, a visor, a protective glass), reorganisation of work (e.g. dispersion, distance work) or regular testing of employees.

If the risk analysis has established that vaccination against the coronavirus is necessary for carrying out the professional duties safely and it is not possible to lower the risks with other measures or reorganise the work in any other way, the employer, in substantiated cases, has the right to issue a warning to the person, explain the possible consequences and as a last resort, to cancel the employment contract extraordinarily.

The employer, on the other hand, can help the employees to find answers to different vaccination-related questions and lower their fears by inviting expert-lectors to talk at the company. If there is a sufficient number of those who want it, it is also possible to organise vaccination on the spot. More information: vaktsineeri.ee.

More information on lowering the risks in a working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found from the Tööelu (Work Life) portal (in Estonian).

Do minors travelling with their parent or an authorised companion need to stay in self-isolation upon arriving to Estonia from risk countries?

The tables with the current infection rates of countries and additional information can be found on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If the child arrives in Estonia with a parent, a guardian, or an authorised companion who is not subject to the requirement to stay in self-isolation after crossing the border (i.e. the parent/companion is vaccinated, or no more than 180 days have passed since a positive PCR test or a diagnosis proving recovery from COVID-19 and she is not symptomatic).

If the child travels with two parents, at least one of whom is released from the requirement to isolate, the same release also applies to the child (does not apply to groups of minors travelling together).

  • A child under the age of 12 who is not symptomatic can participate in school and hobby activities without restrictions (does not apply to groups of minors travelling together, e.g. sports or excursion groups).

European Union member states, Schengen countries and third countries in the European Union list where the 14 day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 75 (the so-called yellow and red countries):

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated are released from the requirement to self-isolate if they are arriving from an European Union or Schengen country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican, and have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arriving or have done a test immediately after arriving in Estonia and the test results were negative. Until the negative test results come in, it is obligatory to stay in one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated are released from the requirement to self-isolate if they are arriving from a third country in the European Union list (see second table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arriving or have done a test immediately after arriving in Estonia and the test results were negative. Until the negative test results come in, it is obligatory to stay in one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.

Third countries not on the European Union list:

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated and arrive from third countries not on the European Union list (see third table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and are the citizens of the European Union, Schengen countries, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican may enter Estonia. In order to be released from the requirement to self-isolate it is required to do another SARS-CoV-2 test immediately after arriving in Estonia, the result of which also have to be negative. Until the results of the test done immediately after arrival are known, there is an obligation to stay at one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated and who are citizens of third countries not on the European Union list (see third table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and are arriving from these countries may enter Estonia if they have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arrival, the results of which are negative. In order to be released from the requirement to self-isolate it is required to do another SARS-CoV-2 test immediately after arriving in Estonia, the result of which also have to be negative. Until the results of the test done immediately after arrival are known, there is an obligation to stay at one's place of residence or permanent place of stay;

Useful information: if the SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test done at a health care service provider has turned out to be positive and is immediately followed by a PCR repeat test with a negative result, the PCR test result is the one that counts.

If the child arrives in Estonia with a parent, a guardian, or an authorised companion who is not subject to the requirement to stay in self-isolation after crossing the border (i.e. the parent/companion is vaccinated, or no more than 180 days have passed since a positive PCR test or a diagnosis proving recovery from COVID-19 and she is not symptomatic).

European Union member states, Schengen countries and third countries on the European Union list where the 14 day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 75 (the so-called yellow and red states), and third countries not on the European Union list:

  • Children under the age of 18 and young people turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year who are not vaccinated themselves and who are not symptomatic are allowed to go to school, kindergarten and child care, and participate in hobby and training activities that are attended by the same persons that participate in the academic and educational activities (i.e. the number of contacts is not extended) on the first day after returning from a trip. On the third day the child needs to do a coronavirus PCR test that is free of charge for minors (booking information: koroonatestimine.ee). It is important to keep in mind that even if the test is negative, the child cannot participate in any other activities than the ones mentioned above within 10 days of crossing the border. If the test done on the third day turns out to be positive, the child must stay home in self-isolation and the prescribed order of dealing with close contacts is initiated at child care institution where he was.

  • A child under the age of 18 also has to stay away from educational activities if he becomes symptomatic before the testing done on the third day or if the symptoms occur after the negative test done on the third day. In that case it is necessary to contact the family doctor. If the test is done later than on the third day, e.g. on the fifth day, this means that the child can participate in academic and educational activities for the first three days after returning from a trip but must stay at home during days 4 and 5 until the test gets done and the negative result comes in.

  • A child under the age of 12 who does not participate in educational and child care activities does not have to do a coronavirus PCR test but does have to stay in self-isolation for ten days after crossing the border.

If the minor himself is vaccinated or no more than 180 days have passed since a coronavirus PCR test proving recovery from COVID-19 or a diagnosis, and he is not symptomatic

  • The child does not have to test or stay in self-isolation upon crossing the border but can participate in school work and different activities, taking into consideration the control measures currently in force in the country (e.g. dispersion, presenting the COVID-certificate depending on age etc.).

All travellers arriving in Estonia by airplane (including children whose information is submitted by a parent) have to fill out a traveller's questionnaire (in Estonian, Russian or English). This can be done up to three days before arriving in Estonia. Travellers arriving by ship, bus or car have an obligation to fill out the traveller's questionnaire if they are arriving from a country that has been marked as red in the table or a country equated to that.

I am a close contact. Do I have to stay in self-isolation?

If you were in close contact with an infected person, you have to stay home in self-isolation for 10 days unless:

  • you have recovered from COVID-19 no more than 180 days ago;
  • you have completed the course of COVID-19 vaccinations, achieved maximum protection after the last dose of the vaccine and no more than one year has passed since your last dose of the vaccine;
  • You have completed the course of vaccinations against COVID-19, achieved maximum protection and received a complementary dose of the vaccine (the so-called additional or booster dose) after completing the course and no more than one year has passed from the complementary dose;
  • you are considered to be the same as vaccinated, i.e. after recovery from COVID-19 you have received one dose of the vaccine, achieved maximum protection after the vaccine dose and no more than one year has passed since your last dose of the vaccine, or you have been infected with COVID-19 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, have recovered from COVID-19 and no more than one year has passed from the date of the SARS-CoV-2 test confirming the diagnosis or the confirmation of the diagnosis.

If you have not recovered from COVID-19 or been vaccinated, and are a close contact, you have to remain in self-isolation for 10 days and stay home.

What does self-isolation mean?

The compulsory period of self-isolation is 10 days. The days are counted from when the close contact took place.

A person who has been sent to self-isolation is not allowed to go to work, school (except in the case of simplified quarantine), public places or to use public transport. It is obligatory to stay home. Instead of visiting the store or the pharmacy, you should turn to your acquaintances or use the e-store to order the necessary items. If you order food or essential items by courier, you have to avoid direct contact. It is only allowed to leave your home if there is an urgent need, e.g. to go to the doctor or to procure essential items or medicines, if you cannot get them without leaving your home.

If a close contact with a virus carrier took place in a kindergarten or child care, general education school or vocational school, the children and youths who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from COVID-19 have to stay in simplified quarantine.

How can minors, children and youths under the age of 18 get vaccinated?

All residents of Estonia over the age of 12 can get vaccinated.

An appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination can be booked at the Patient Portal digilugu.ee, on the web page vaktsineeriapteegis.ee (in Estonian), from the state helpline 1247, and the registries of local hospitals and medical institutions. At the digital register an appointment for a minor must be booked by a parent or a guardian.

It is also possible to get vaccinated against the coronavirus at schools:

  • in general education schools and vocational schools the vaccination is organised by school nurses who, in addition to vaccinating students, are also authorised to vaccinate the staff and, if necessary, other members of the community.
  • the school nurse can organise the vaccination herself in the schools, include a health care service provider, or organise it so that the persons getting vaccinated arrive at the regional vaccination center.
  • as with other vaccinations, minors are vaccinated at educational institutions only with the consent of a parent or a guardian.

More information: vaktsineeri.ee/vaktsineerimine-koolides (in Estonian).

You can find information on different vaccination options from the web page vaktsineeri.ee. If you need further counselling in order to make a decision about the COVID-19 vaccination, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. Calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is provided in Estonian and Russian (in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

How can I get vaccinated against COVID-19?

A vaccination appointment can be booked:

  • at the digital registry at http://www.digilugu.ee
  • by calling 1247 (every day between 08.00 and 20.00)
  • at a pharmacy: find a pharmacy closest to you and book an appointment at the web page vaktsineeriapteegis.ee (in Estonian)
  • by calling the registry of the local hospital or medical institution.

It is also possible to get immunised without prior registration in vaccination buses and vaccination points. You can find all the options in different towns and counties from the web page vaktsineeri.ee -- locations that have no prior booking requirement have a green label "without registration".

Within the limits of Tallinn, a group of at least ten adults have the option of ordering a vaccine ambulance for themselves. The service can be ordered by sending an e-mail to ltkhvak[at]keskhaigla[dot]ee. The query must contain an address where the ambulance is ordered, a date, the desired time of day, the number of people who want to get vaccinated (10 at minimum) and their personal identification codes. The vaccination ambulance team will contact the person who submitted the order to agree upon the exact time.

The location of vaccination is not connected to a person's official place of residence: everyone can book an appointment and go to get vaccinated in an area suitable to them all across Estonia. A booking for a minor must be done by his legal representative.

In addition to hospitals and private health care service providers it is possible to get vaccinated at schools (more information: vaktsineeri.ee (in Estonian). The elderly and people in risk groups also continue to be vaccinated by family doctors.

Make certain to be on time for your vaccination appointment or let the vaccinating institution know at first chance if you will not be able to go to your agreed upon vaccination for some reason.

If you need further counselling on COVID-19 vaccinations, we recommend that you consult with your family doctor or call the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

What kind of an interval must be left between the two shots of the vaccine?

The manufacturer has determined the intervals between administering the vaccine doses according to the results of clinical studies. The period prescribed by the manufacturer provides the highest efficacy of the vaccine, based on the results of the studies. For this reason it is important to administer the second dose at the prescribed time, generally no sooner than the summary of the vaccine properties suggests. For instance, if a person becomes ill and cannot go the get the second dose at the agreed upon time, the second dose can be administered later but preferably at first opportunity after recovery.

The interval between the two shots by vaccine:

  • the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: 6 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 7 days after receiving the second dose)
  • the Moderna vaccine: 4 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 14 days after receiving the second dose)
  • the AstraZeneca vaccine: 12 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 15 days after receiving the second dose)

Is it necessary to vaccinate people who have recovered from COVID-19 and when should they be vaccinated?

The state immunoprophylaxis expert committee recommends vaccinating people who have recovered from COVID-19 with one dose on the sixth month after recovery and consider the course of vaccinations completed with this. The committee recommends vaccinating with one dose even if more than six months have passed since recovery from COVID-19, in order to ensure long term protection. Those that have recovered from the disease and then have gotten vaccinated have a 20 times smaller chance of getting infected again.

If you have already received one dose of the vaccine before you got infected, the necessity of a second shot depends on the moment you fell ill:

  • if you got COVID-19 within two weeks of receiving the first dose, the recommendation is to administer one dose of the vaccine on the sixth month after recovery. After this the course of vaccinations is considered completed. Before receiving the second dose, if necessary, a person can prove their infection risk status with a COVID-19 recovery certificate which is valid if less than 180 days have passed since the positive test result (PCR test).
  • if you got COVID-19 more than two weeks after receiving the shot, it is no longer necessary to administer the second shot and the course of vaccinations is considered completed.

In both cases it should be kept in mind that the vaccination status does not change automatically on the digital COVID certificates, rather a certificate needs to be created again after the health care service provider has entered the information proving recovery (for instance, a positive PCR test result). If there are any questions about the information on the COVID certificate created, you can turn to the user support line of the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre +372 794 3943 (7.00 to 22.00) or from the e-mail abi[at]tehik[dot]ee.

If there is an unavoidable need (due to travel restrictions in certain countries etc.) a doctor can administer a person who has recovered from COVID-19 a second dose as well if the person wishes (the minimum time between the two doses is the interval determined in the summary of vaccine properties).

Restrictions in force and reductions of restrictions

Restrictions in force in Estonia

It is compulsory to cover one's nose and mouth in public transport, including in trains and ferries. Children under the age of 12 do not have to wear a mask.

Starting from October 25, 2021: A mask must be worn in public transport, including in trains and ferries. It is not sufficient to cover one's nose and mouth with a scarf, collar, visor or any such object that is not meant to be used as a protective mask.


It is compulsory to wear a mask in unchecked public indoor spaces. This mainly pertains to commercial and service establishments but also state and local government agencies. A mask must be worn in stores, pharmacies, service offices of telecommunication enterprises and banks, libraries, but also the service bureaus of the Police and Border Guard Board, the Social Insurance Board, or the Health Board, and elsewhere. A mask must not be worn by children under the age of 12 or people for whom wearing a mask is not reasonable due to health concerns or for other substantial reasons.

*Starting from October 25, 2021: A mask must be worn in unchecked public indoor spaces. It is not sufficient to cover one's nose and mouth with a scarf, collar, visor or any such object that is not meant to be used as a protective mask. A mask is not compulsory for children under the age of 12. People for whom wearing a protective mask is medically contraindicated must present a relevant certificate to the checker. Wearing a mask is highly recommended in rooms where vaccination and recovery status is checked.


Commercial enterprises and service providers

It is compulsory to wear a mask in stores and service facilities, disinfectants must be available and disinfection requirements must be fulfilled according to the instructions of the Health Board, and the requirement to disperse people must also be followed.

Starting from October 25, 2021: it is compulsory to wear a mask in stores and service facilities. The service provider or trader has the right to admit a person who refuses to wear a protective mask to the service area. Commercial and service enterprises must ensure the dispersion of people, so that people and groups of people would not be too close to each other


Catering establishments

All customers of catering establishments who are over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a prior negative test result. Consuming on the spot is allowed only if checking the COVID-19 certificates is ensured, and this applies even if the catering establishment is rented out, e.g. for birthdays, company parties or other private events. It is not necessary to present the certificate to buy food as takeaway or provide delivery services but in that case a mask must be worn. It is not necessary to present a certificate for buying food as takeaway or providing delivery services, but a mask must be worn.

Starting from October 25, 2021: All customers of catering establishments who are over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. Consuming on the spot is allowed only if checking the COVID-19 certificates is ensured.


Worship services

It is allowed to carry out public worship services and religious services in a way that up to 50 people may participate in them indoors (up to 100 outdoors) in places of worship or a 50% maximum occupancy requirement has to be observed. A mask must be worn. If the participation numbers exceed these limits, the infection risk status of people must be checked.

The exception does not extend to church concerts which fall under the requirements set to organising events.


Museums, exhibition venues

All visitors over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a prior negative test result. The infection risk status of all participants must also be checked if the activity or event takes place at the location of service provision, e.g. if a gallery space or a museum hall is rented out for a private event.

The restrictions apply to public meetings and events, including conferences, cinema showings, provision of entertainment services, museums and exhibitions. Additionally, they apply to doing sports and training, youth work, hobby activities, informal education, refresher training, organising sports competitions and sports and exercise events, and also in public saunas, spas, pools, water parks and swimming facilities.

Starting from October 25, 2021: All visitors over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. Wearing a protective mask is highly recommended.


Entertainment sector and public events

All visitors over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a prior negative test result. The infection risk status of all visitors must be checked even when the activity or event takes place in a place of service provision, for example a catering establishment in rented out or a theatre performance is ordered from a theatre.

In order to participate at the event or the activity it is possible to do an antigen rapid test up to 48 hours earlier or a PCR test up to 72 hours earlier. The testing needs to be carried out by a health care service provider. In order to participate at the event or activity, the test results need to be negative.

The organiser of the event does not have to provide for the possibility to do an antigen rapid test immediately before the event anymore. The organiser is still allowed to provide for the possibility to do the rapid test, according to the instructions of the Health Board, but if it does not provide for this, the person wishing to enter with a test result has to organise their own testing at a health care service provider.

The restrictions apply to public meetings and events, including conferences, cinema showings, provision of entertainment services, museums and exhibitions. Additionally, they apply to doing sports and training, youth work, hobby activities, informal education, refresher training, organising sports competitions and sports and exercise events, and also in public saunas, spas, pools, water parks and swimming facilities.

Starting from October 25, 2021: People who are of age and have not been vaccinated against COVID or recovered from the disease are no longer allowed to participate in activities where the COVID certificate is required. All participants over the age of 18 must present a valid certificate proving vaccination or recovery.

Work life, risk analysis of the working environment

In employment relationships the basis for going to work and using personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask) is the risk analysis of the working environment. It is the task of the employer to evaluate the risks present in the working environment (including risks related to the spread of the virus), their effect on the health of the employee and, according to the results of the analysis, enact measures to lower the risks. As a preventative measure, the employer might, for instance, foresee in the risk analysis that the employees have to get vaccinated if it is necessary to safely perform their professional duties. It is also possible to use other relevant measures, for instance to obligate the employees to wear personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask). However, the Government of the Republic recommends distance work to everyone who has that option.

Where will I get my COVID-19 vaccination certificate?

By logging into the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee), a person who has received the COVID-19 vaccine can create an immunisation certificate for themselves or reproduce previously created valid certificates. A certificate can be opened and downloaded in the Patient Portal. At a check point, the vaccination certificate can be presented on a smart device or printed out on a paper.

Estonians and foreign nationals with an Estonian personal identification code who cannot create their own EU COVID certificates in the Patient Portal can submit an application for it at all the service bureaus of the Social Insurance Board. Those who wish to receive one have to fill out an application and take it to a suitable service bureau of the Social Insurance Board. After this, the EU COVID certificate will be sent to the person's e-mail address within three working days. More specific information can be found on the web page of TEHIK.

I wish to travel abroad. How can I get information about entry to other countries?

Information about entry conditions to other countries can be found on the Reisi Targalt website (in Estonian).

When travelling, it is recommended to adhere to the following principles:

  • before planning a trip, check the information about the infection rate of the country of destination on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • you can find out about travel restrictions in the destination country from the Reisi Targalt website (in Estonian), the European Union ReOpen portal, and in more detail from a foreign representation of the destination country;
  • register your trip on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reisi Targalt website, so we could inform you about possible crises;
  • follow the recommendations of the Health Board for a safe flight, if you get symptoms, postpone your trip and contact your family doctor;
  • purchase travel insurance and familiarise yourself with all the conditions (including for any travel disruptions caused by COVID-19);
  • when crossing the border, it is obligatory to fill out a declaration which can also be done electronically. The declaration can be filled out 24 hours before arrival in Estonia: iseteenindus.terviseamet.ee. Please hold on to the notification letter that you receive on your e-mail after you have filled out the form! The declarations can still also be filled out on paper, which you can find here (.docx in Estonian).
  • follow the instructions of local authorities in the country of stay and find out about possible new restrictions.
  • follow the rules in force in Estonia when returning from your trip, contact your family doctor in case of suspicion of the virus.
  • Any country may change the conditions for entry and stay in the country with a very short notice. For more detailed information on the conditions of the country of destination, we recommend contacting the foreign representation or authorities of the relevant country.

More information on the coronavirus and movement restrictions from the state information line 1247 (+372 600 1247 when calling from abroad).

 

Culture and entertainment

 

What restrictions apply to churches and worship services?

Protective mask

Participants have to wear a mask. A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

Dispersion

In public indoor spaces it is important ensure dispersion, availability of disinfectants and the following of disinfection rules in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

Limitations to the number of participants

It is allowed to carry out public worship services and religious services in a way that up to 50 people may participate in them indoors (100 outdoors) or a 50% maximum occupancy requirement has to be observed.

COVID certificate

Participants of a worship service do not have to present any COVID certificates. The exception does not extend to church concerts which are subject to the general requirements in force for organising public events.

If a sauna is rented out for a private event, is there an obligation to check the certificates?

Yes, if a sauna is rented out for a private event, the obligation to check COVID certificates extends to it.

The obligation to check a person's infection risk status extends to saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools, and this obligation also applies to private events taking place at the establishment's place of business.

The obligation to check does not extend to the activities of disabled persons and thus there is an obligation to wear a mask. If a person volunteers to present a COVID certificate or is tested, is he released from the obligation to wear a mask while using

the service?

The exceptions to disabled persons apply in sports, training, hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training. They also apply to participating in sports competitions and events.

If, for instance, the person responsible for the activity is training disabled persons, he can choose whether he checks the certificates of all individuals (including disabled persons) and then the participants are released from the obligation to wear a mask.

The other option is to not check the certificates of only those who belong in the group of disabled persons and then there is an obligation to wear a mask, even if five people out of ten have the certificate. In any case, the choice of approach should be made before the service is provided.

The obligation to wear a mask does not extend to children under the age of 12 and to persons for whom it is not possible to wear a mask for health reasons (e.g. breathing difficulties, certain mental disorders, allergies) or reasonable for other substantial considerations, e.g. special needs or disability. The person should still consider whether health reasons rule out all options of covering one's nose and mouth or whether it would still be possible to reduce the infection risk with some suitable alternative.

A mask does not have to be worn by people with special needs, e.g. if it is not possible for the person to wear a mask as required or put a mask on and take it off by himself due to a mental disorder or a physical aberration. A mask does not have to be worn by a person accompanying a hard-of-hearing person or an individual who is communicating with a person who needs to read from lips, read facial expressions, needs to hear clear speech etc. to communicate if wearing a mask complicates that.

If there are no above described health complaints related to the disability, a mask should also be worn in order to participate in the activity.

If the local government, consumer protection, local police or other authority has a false interpretation of the obligations of the parties, where should the entrepreneur or an organisation representing entrepreneurs turn to for solving the situation?

The activities of all law enforcement bodies can be challenged or contested in court. In case of questions or a need to specify, both an entrepreneur and a private person always have the option of pre-emptively turning to the state helpline 1247 or writing to covid19[at]mkm[dot]ee.

Is dispersion obligation the same as the 2+2 rule?

Dispersion is not the 2+2 rule but guidance to keep a safe distance with each other in a public indoor space. A public indoor space is a room that can be entered by anyone (this also includes public transport).

Starting from October, 2021: People have to be and move around in a public indoor space in a dispersed manner. The restriction does not apply to families or in cases where it is not possible to ensure these conditions reasonably.

The person responsible for the activities (i.e. the trader, the service provider, the organiser of the event, the catering establishment etc.) ensures, there would not be an unreasonable amount of people in the space or room. The Government order does not prescribe an exact distance -- ensuring dispersion means that groups of persons (e.g. families) or individuals should not be too close to each other or in direct contact.

Close contacts between people who are not usually together increase the probability of the virus spreading.

Which special needs release a person from an obligation to present a COVID certificate?

  • If a person cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons i.e. she has a contraindication to vaccination (e.g. she has anaphylaxis or a strong allergic reaction to some ingredient of the vaccine, has had capillary leak syndrome in the past etc.), it is possible for her to use a certificate of negative test result in order to participate in activities. Contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination is documented by a family doctor or a treating specialist with the international disease classification (IDC-10) code intended for that and that is the basis for free testing at a health care service provider with a referral from a family doctor or the Family Doctor's Advice (1220 or +372 634 6630). If testing is organised in some other way than at a health care service provider, it is a paid service.

  • If a person can get neither vaccinated nor tested due to medical reasons, a family doctor or a treating specialist can issue a certificate based on which she can participate in activities. It has to be taken into account that the certificate is valid nationally, and in other countries the restrictions and requirements in force there should be adhered to. If a person travelling has a very rare (and medically proven) combined contraindication to both testing and vaccination, she has to stay in a 10 day self-isolation after arriving from a risk country. It is very strongly recommended that they also use personal protective equipment, e.g. an FFP2 or FFP3 respirator, when participating in activities.

  • If a person cannot get tested due to medical reasons (e.g. he has a specific facial trauma), it is possible to get vaccinated and participate in activities with a COVID immunisation certificate (either the paper based immunisation passport or a digital certificate).

Starting from October 25, 2021:

  • If a person cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, i.e. vaccination is contraindicated to him (e.g. he has anaphylaxis or a strong allergic reaction to an ingredient of the vaccine, a previously occurred capillary leak syndrome etc.), they can use a certificate issued by a doctor to participate in activities. A contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination is established by a doctor who documents it with an international disease classification (ICD-10) code, on the basis of which she can issue a paper certificate.

It should be noted that it is only possible to use the abovementioned doctor's certificate to participate in activities within the country. In other countries you have to act according to the restrictions and requirements in force there. People who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons are urgently recommended to also use personal protective equipment, e.g. a FFP2 or FFP3 respirator, while participating in activities, in order to reduce the infection risk.

What must be kept in mind when doing the rapid tests?

The following needs to be considered:

Rapid tests that are valid for 48 hours:

  • antigen rapid tests that are used have been approved in the EU and meant for professional use
  • are done by a health care service provider, generally in their own medical centres, special testing locations (e.g. Confido's 17 locations across Estonia, Corrigo in Ida-Virumaa) or the user himself at a holder of an activity licence for general pharmacy services according to the instructions of the Health Board
  • the test results are entered into the health information system
  • a person gets a certificate to prove a negative result
  • a person pays for the service herself

Rapid tests that are valid only for the specific event, for providing a service on the spot

  • antigen rapid tests that are used have been approved in the EU
  • the tests are done by the visitor herself, on the spot, upon arriving to an event or to consume the service
  • doing the test is guided by a vaccinated person responsible for the activity; there is also a possibility to hire a health care service provider
  • an operator may charge for the service

If the test result is positive or unclear, the person must stay in isolation and contact their family doctor to confirm the diagnosis with a PCR test.

More information in the Health Board's instructions for administering rapid tests. (in Estonian).

Starting from October 25, 2021: A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof in Estonia for participating in activities taking place in public indoor spaces. The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

Is the yellow paper based immunisation passport also suitable for proving one's vaccination status?

Yes, it is.

The yellow immunisation passport is issued at the request of a person by a family doctor or some other medical worker carrying out vaccinations. If a person already has an immunisation passport and he wishes to prove his vaccination status with it later, he should bring it along to the vaccination. In that case, the person carrying out the vaccination can make a corresponding note in the passport. People who have been vaccinated abroad can also prove their vaccination status with the immunisation passport.

Among other things, the passport contains the disease against which the immunisation was administered, the date of immunisation, immune preparation that was used, the lot number of it, and the number of doses administered, also the name and other data of the immuniser.

Who has the right to get ticket money back due to the new, stricter corona restrictions?

A participant who is 18 years of age of older has to prove that they do not pose an infection risk, by presenting a vaccination certificate or a COVID-19 recovery certificate. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate at the event by presenting a certificate issued by a doctor, confirming the fact. People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

If the organiser finds that checking the certificates is too complicated or costly and decides to cancel the event due to that, it is obligated to reimburse the people who bought tickets.

If the event is taking place but the participant does not want to or is not able to prove their infection risk status as required, he generally does not have the right to be reimbursed.

Do 18-year-olds coming to an event need to present a vaccination certificate or a negative test? Does it have to be a PCR test or can it be some other allowed test? Can the organiser of the event carry out testing at its own initiative?

For now, people under the age of 18 do not have to prove that they are not an infection risk, i.e. that they are vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 or have a negative test result.

The organiser of the event does not have to provide for the possibility to do an antigen rapid test on the spot but is still allowed to provide for the possibility to do the rapid test, according to the instructions of the Health Board, but if it does not provide for this, the person wishing to enter with a test result has to organise their own testing at a health care service provider or a holder of an activity licence for general pharmacy services.

The allowed tests are a PCR test done within 72 hours or an antigen rapid test done up to 48 hours earlier.

What application can the organiser of an event use to read the digital COVID certificate, and how?

The digital EU COVID certificates can be checked on the web page kontroll.digilugu.ee.

The web page allows checking the authenticity of the certificate and whether it meets the requirements currently in force in Estonia. The person doing the check will be displayed three colours: green (the certificate is valid), orange (the information on the certificate does not meet the vaccination or recovery conditions in force in Estonia), and red (technical error and/or the certificate is not valid).

The checking application shows whether:

  • the course of vaccination has been completed (1/1, 2/2 etc.)
  • at least 14 days have passed since the last vaccination, or at least 7 days if the vaccine used was the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty
  • up to one year has passed since the last vaccination
  • the sample for the PCR test with a negative result has been taken within the past 72 hours
  • the sample for the rapid test with a negative result has been taken within the past 48 hours
  • the sample of the PCR test with a positive result has been taken more than 11 days and no more than 180 days ago (i.e. whether the person has recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months)

Detailed instructions for checking the certificate can be found on the web page tehik.ee (in Estonian).

Starting from October 25, 2021: In unchecked activities and spaces it is obligatory for all participants over the age of 18 to present a valid COVID certificate proving that they have completed the course of vaccinations within the past year (or completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate with a certificate confirming the fact, issued by a doctor. People under the age of 18 do not have to present any certificates.

A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof. The access of unvaccinated people to events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

Is it obligatory to check COVID certificates at a company's team building event, summer days, or Christmas party?

This depends on where the event is taking place.

If a natural person organises the activity in the yard of his home and is not charging for tickets, or orders catering for the employees of the company to be delivered to the office, this constitutes a private event and there is no obligation to check COVID certificates.

If, however, a restaurant, an entertainment establishment (e.g. a theatre, a cinema hall or a sauna) or some other public space is reserved for the private event, there is also an obligation to check COVID certificates.

Allowed tests are a PCR test done within 72 hours, an rapid antigen test done up to 48 hours earlier, as well as a SARS-CoV-2 antigen RTD test at the location of the activity according to the instructions of the Health Board. It is important that negative memories would not throw shadow on a major event.

Starting from October 25, 2021: A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof for participating in events. Rather, all persons over the age of 18 have to present a valid certificate proving that they have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate by presenting a certificate issued by a doctor, attesting to that fact.

The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

Who has to check this certificate?

The organiser of the event or the person responsible for the activity can decide who checks the certificate, e.g. the security company, ticket sellers, guards etc.

Is recovery from the disease enough or is it also necessary to vaccinate for the certificate to be valid?

Recovery from the disease is sufficient to prove one does not pose an infection risk if less than 180 days have passed since receiving a positive test result (PCR test). This means that a COVID-19 recovery certificate is valid for six months.

Once the recovery certificate is about to expire, it would be wise to get vaccinated: those who have recovered from the disease and then gotten vaccinated have a 20 times smaller chance of getting reinfected.

The recommendation is to vaccinate people who have recovered from the coronavirus with one dose on the sixth month after recovery. After this, the course of vaccination can be considered completed and a vaccination certificate becomes valid after maximum protection is achieved. The time that it takes to achieve maximum protection is different for different vaccines: Pfizer BioNTech Comirnaty 7 days after the second dose, Spikevax (Moderna) 14 days after the second dose, Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) 15 days after the second dose, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) 14 days after the first dose.

It is worth noting that the status on the digital COVID certificates does not change automatically. The certificate has to be created again once the health care service provider has entered the new information to the Patient Portal digilugu.ee. If you have any questions about the information on the created COVID certificate, you can get assistance from the user support line of the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre +372 794 3943 (from 7.00 to 22.00) or from the e-mail abi[at]tehik[dot]ee.

How long must I wait after the second shot for the certificate to be considered valid and is the schedule the same for all the vaccines?

In Estonia this period is different for different vaccines. The maximum protection is considered achieved according to the manufacturer's instructions -- 7 calendar days after the second vaccine dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine, 15 calendar days after the second vaccine dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine Vaxzevria, 14 calendar days after the second vaccine shot for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and 14 calendar days after the single vaccine dose for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. If new COVID-19 vaccines come to the market, the period they take to achieve maximum protection is determined according to the particular manufacturer's instructions. If a person has recovered from the disease and has been vaccinated with one dose, the maximum protection is considered to have been achieved by the abovementioned deadlines.

If I do not have a smart phone where to display my digital certificate, how can I get into the event?

A printout of the certificate, the so-called yellow vaccination passport, and also certificates issued abroad are considered equivalent to a digital certificate.

As an organiser of an event, what do I need to check before the beginning of the event?

Starting from the first participant, it is compulsory for everyone who is 18 years of age or older, who have recovered from the disease, been vaccinated, or have done either the PCR of antigen rapid test, to present a corresponding certificate to the organiser before the start of the event or activity.

The organiser must check the validity of the COVID certificates. If there is a substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

The organiser may also provide for the possibility of doing a rapid test on the spot in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board, but if they do not, the person wishing to enter with a test result must organise their own testing at a health care service provider or a holder of an activity licence for a general pharmacy.

Starting from October 25, 2021: Starting from the first participant, it is compulsory for everyone who is 18 years of age or older to present a corresponding certificate to the organiser before the start of the event or activity. An event may be attended by people who:

  • have completed the course of vaccinations with the past year (or have completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose)
  • have recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed.
  • cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, if they present a certificate issued by a doctor, attesting to that fact.

People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

The organiser must check the authenticity and validity of the COVID certificates. If there is a substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

A negative test result is not sufficient as proof. The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

Do major events need to be approved by the Health Board?

The event does not need to be approved by the Health Board but they will definitely give advice and instructions on how to hold it and ensure safety.

Can I also participate at an event if I do not have the digital certificate?

Yes, if a person does not have a digital certificate or he does not wish to use it, the infection risk status can also be proven with a test. If the results are negative, the person may participate at the event.

The organiser may provide for the possibility of doing a rapid test on the spot in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board, but if they do not, the person wishing to enter with a test result must organise their own testing at a health care service provider or a holder of an activity licence for general pharmacy services.

Starting from October 25, 2021: A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof for participating in events. The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

If a person has completed the course of vaccinations within the past year (or has completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed, they can present a printout of the certificate or prove their vaccination status with the so-called yellow vaccination passport. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate with a certificate issued by a doctor, confirming the fact. People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

Can I also participate at an event if I am not vaccinated?

Yes. In addition to people who are vaccinated, events may also be attended by people who have recovered from COVID-19 (within the past 6 months), or people who have a negative test result. In order to participate at the event or the activity it is possible to do an antigen rapid test up to 48 hours earlier or a PCR test up to 72 hours earlier. The testing needs to be carried out by a health care service provider. It is also possible to do the SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test meant for self-testing at a holder of an activity permit for general pharmacy services.

In order to participate at the event or activity, the test result needs to be negative.

Starting from October 25, 2021: An unvaccinated person may participate in events only if the person:

  • is under 18 years of age
  • has recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed
  • cannot get vaccinated for health reasons and presents a certificate issued by a doctor, confirming the fact.

A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof. The access of unvaccinated people to events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

If I received my vaccine shot yesterday, when can I go to a major event?

According to the instructions of the manufacturers, it is estimated that maximum protection is achieved in 7 calendar days after receiving the second shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty, 15 calendar days after receiving the second shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine Vaxzevria, 14 calendar days after receiving the second shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and 14 calendar days after receiving the single dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. If new COVID-19 vaccines enter the market, the approach is determined by the particular manufacturer's instructions on when the maximum protection is achieved. If a person has recovered from the disease and has been vaccinated with one dose, it is considered that the maximum protection is achieved at the abovementioned deadlines.

What does a child need to do to be able to get into an event?

A child does not have to have a COVID certificate: people under the age of 18 do not have to prove their infection risk status, i.e. vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 in order to participate in checked activities (including events, entertainment, informal education).

Similarly to adults, it is also strongly recommended that children over the age of 12 wear a protective mask even in places where the COVID certificates are being checked. Preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. a FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator), which effectively keeps the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

An event is to be attended only when healthy, people who are sick (or in simplified quarantine) have to stay home.

Do the organisers of all events have to check COVID certificates?

There is no obligation to check COVID certificates at outdoor events that take place in an unrestricted territory, for instance events that take place in a single city neighbourhood, on the streets or in the forest where people are in constant movement and it is not possible to determine an event or activity with a certain location or number of participants.

At the same time, if a part of an event takes place in an unrestricted area and another part of the same event takes place in a specific location, i.e. a restricted area, where tickets are being checked, a starting corridor, catering, a concert, a gathering, or some similar activity is taking place, a COVID-19 certificate must be presented in order to be able to participate at the latter.

Public meetings organised outdoors in an unrestricted territory and in limited conditions also public meetings taking place indoors also fall under an exception. It should be noted that in this context, a public meeting is a gathering of people at a public space in order to form or express their minds.

What kind of restrictions apply to museums and exhibition facilities?

COVID certificate

In museums and exhibition facilities and at entertainment services all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of people, have to present a COVID certificate to prove vaccination, recovery or negative results of a previously done test. COVID certificate has to also be checked if the activity or event is taking place at a location of service provision, for instance if an exhibition or conference space is rented out for a private event.

The establishments have an obligation to check the authenticity and validity of COVID certificates. If there is substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identification document.

Dispersion

In public indoor spaces, in addition to checking COVID certificates, it is important to ensure dispersion, availability of disinfectants and following disinfection requirements in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

Limits to the numbers of participants

Up to 6000 people are allowed to participate in events indoors and up to 12 000 outdoors.

Requirements for the employees of museums and exhibition facilities

In employment relationships, the basis for going to work, the requirements regarding the use of personal protective equipment and other control measures of the spread of the virus (including the presenting of COVID certificates, testing, mask wearing etc.) is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the specific employer.

*The same rules apply to both indoor and outdoor activities: sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; sports competitions and sports and exercise events; saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; public meetings and events (including at the theatre, in the cinema, at a concert, including a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition venues; at entertainment services.

Starting from October 25, 2021: In museums and exhibition facilities it is obligatory for all participants over the age of 18 to present a valid COVID certificate proving that they have completed the course of vaccinations within the past year (or completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate with a certificate confirming the fact, issued by a doctor. People under the age of 18 do not have to present any certificates.

A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof. The access of unvaccinated people to events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and end up in a hospital.

Protective mask

Wearing a protective mask is strongly recommended. A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

What restrictions apply to libraries?

Protective mask

In public spaces where the COVID infection risk is not being checked (spaces that can be entered without having to present the COVID certificate) it is obligatory to wear a mask or cover one's nose and mouth. Masks will have to be worn in all the spaces meant for public use that can be entered by anyone who wishes to and where there are too many people who do not come into daily contact with each other.

The obligation to wear a mask does not extend to children under the age of 12 or persons for whom it is not reasonable to wear a mask due to health considerations or other substantial reasons.

Dispersion

In public indoor spaces, in addition to checking the COVID certificates and tests, it is important to ensure dispersion, availability of disinfectants and following of the disinfecting requirements in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

COVID certificate

It is not obligatory to present a COVID certificate in the library, expect at events taking place on the same territory, where checking for infection risk is compulsory.

Requirements for the employees of libraries

In employment relationships, the basis for going to work, the requirements regarding the use of personal protective equipment and other control measures of the spread of the virus (including the presenting of COVID certificates, testing, mask wearing etc.) is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the specific employer.

Starting from October 25, 2021:

It is obligatory to wear a protective mask in libraries and other unchecked public indoor spaces. A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

A mask must be worn by all people over the age of 12 and the service provider has the right to refuse entry to the service area to people who are not wearing a mask. If a person cannot wear a mask for health reasons, they have to prove their contraindication with a certificate issued by a health care service provider.

  • Wearing a mask is generally the responsibility of each individual themselves but in commercial establishments, service and other unchecked public indoor spaces the observation of the obligation to wear a mask must also be monitored by the traders and service providers.

What restrictions apply to entertainment establishments?

COVID certificate

At entertainment establishments it is obligatory for all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of people, to present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test. Infection risk status needs to also be proven if the activity or event is taking place at a location of service provision, for example when a theatre hall or a conference room is rented out for a private event.

The establishments have an obligation to check the authenticity and validity of COVID certificates. If there is substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identification document.

Dispersion

In public indoor spaces, in addition to checking the COVID certificates and tests, it is important to ensure dispersion, availability of disinfectants and following of the disinfecting requirements in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

Limits to the numbers of participants

Up to 6000 people are allowed to participate in events indoors and up to 12 000 outdoors.

Requirements for the employees of entertainment establishments

In employment relationships, the basis for going to work, the requirements regarding the use of personal protective equipment and other control measures of the spread of the virus (including the presenting of COVID certificates, testing, mask wearing etc.) is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the specific employer.

The same rules apply to both indoor and outdoor activities: sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; sports competitions and sports and exercise events; saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; public meetings and events (including at the theatre, in the cinema, at a concert, including a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition venues; at entertainment services.

In addition to the listed activities, raft saunas, party buses or other recreational and entertainment related activities are considered to be entertainment services. As entertainment services are partly covered by the restrictions and measures set to cinemas, music events, and theatres, these are complemented by gambling events, amusement parks (including children's playrooms) and game halls.

Starting from October 25, 2021: In entertainment establishments it is obligatory for all participants over the age of 18 to present a valid COVID certificate proving that they have completed the course of vaccinations within the past year (or completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate with a certificate confirming the fact, issued by a doctor. People under the age of 18 do not have to present any certificates.

A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof. The access of unvaccinated people to events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

Protective mask

Wearing a protective mask is strongly recommended. A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

What restrictions are in force for cinemas, theatres, and concerts halls?

COVID certificate

In cinemas, theatres, at concerts (including church concerts) it is obligatory for all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of people, to present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test. COVID certificate needs also to be checked if the activity or event is taking place at a location of service provision, for example when a theatre, cinema, or conference hall is rented out for a private event.

The establishments have an obligation to check the authenticity and validity of COVID certificates. If there is substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identification document.

The COVID certificate does not have to be checked at outdoor events taking place on an unrestricted territory.

Dispersion

Indoors, in addition to checking the COVID certificates, it is important to ensure dispersion, availability of disinfectants and following of the disinfecting requirements in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

Limits to the numbers of participants

Up to 6000 people may participate in events and activities indoors and up to 12 000 people outdoors.

Requirements for the employees of entertainment establishments

In employment relationships, the basis for going to work, the requirements regarding the use of personal protective equipment and other control measures of the spread of the virus (including the presenting of COVID certificates, testing, mask wearing etc.) is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the specific employer.

  • The same rules apply to both indoor and outdoor activities: sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; sports competitions and sports and exercise events; saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; public meetings and events (including at the theatre, in the cinema, at a concert, including a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition venues; at entertainment services.

Starting from October 25, 2021: In cinemas, theatres, at concerts (including church concerts) it is obligatory for all participants over the age of 18 to present a valid COVID certificate proving that they have completed the course of vaccinations within the past year (or completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate with a certificate confirming the fact, issued by a doctor. People under the age of 18 do not have to present any certificates.

A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof. The access of unvaccinated people to events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and end up in a hospital.

Protective mask

Wearing a protective mask is strongly recommended. A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

 

Grocery stores, shopping centres, restaurants

 

What restrictions apply in hair and beauty salons?

Protective mask

A protective mask must be worn in public indoor spaces, including the service areas of hair and beauty salons. A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is clearly not meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A mask must be worn by all persons over the age of 12 and the trader has the right to not allow people who are not wearing a mask to enter their sales or service area. If a person cannot wear a mask for health reasons, they have to prove their contraindication by presenting a certificate that has been issued by a health care service provider.

  • Wearing a mask is generally the responsibility of each individual themselves but in commercial establishments, service and other unchecked public indoor spaces the observation of the obligation to wear a mask must also be monitored by the service providers.

Dispersion

Dispersion, availability of disinfectants and following disinfection requirements in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board must be ensured in the public indoor spaces of hair and beauty salons.

COVID certificate

It is not obligatory to present the COVID certificate at hair and beauty salons, except when an organised event where checking for infection risk is compulsory is taking place on the premises.

Requirements for the employees of hair and beauty salons

In employment relationships, the basis for going to work, the requirements regarding the use of personal protective equipment and other control measures of the spread of the virus (including the presenting of COVID certificates, testing, mask wearing etc.) is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the employer -- even if the hairdresser has their own company and she is a renter in the space. I.e. it is obligatory to behave in accordance with the risk analysis of the company.

Does the obligation to wear a mask also extend to different service providers who move around in the commercial establishments' back rooms that are not public space (e.g. electricians, technicians, logisticians etc. that do not enter the sales area)?

If it is not public space then the obligation to wear a mask does not extend to the back rooms of commercial establishments. The obligation to wear a mask does extend to service providers as well, if such an obligation is foreseen in their employer's risk analysis.

Can an employer foresee in the risk analysis that a vaccinated service person is not obligated to wear a mask? E.g. a cashier can be without a mask behind a protective glass but wear a mask in the sales area?

Yes, it can. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer has a legal obligation to do a working environment risk analysis, evaluate the risks stemming from a biological risk factor to its employees and plan corresponding measures to lower the risks. Based on the results of the analysis carried out in the working environment, the employer can determine in the risk analysis that in order to work in certain positions it is compulsory to get vaccinated, present a certificate proving recovery from COVID-19, do a COVID-19 test, or wear a mask. These measures can be implemented as alternatives to each other or simultaneously (e.g. vaccination/certificate and mask).

It is in the interests of all of us that the society remains as open as possible, and thus it is necessary to use all possible means to keep it that way in the future.

If the clients have to wear a protective mask, do the same requirements apply to the employees as well? Is an employee allowed to wear a visor?

It is obligatory to behave in accordance with the risk analysis of the employer.

If the employer has, in the working environment risk analysis, come to the conclusion that the risks related to the spread of the virus have been lowered sufficiently with the use of other personal protective equipment, e.g. a visor or a protective glass, the employer does not have to wear a protective mask.

If the risk analysis has established that wearing a protective mask is necessary to safely perform the professional duties, the employee is obligated to wear a mask.

It is the task of the employer to assess the risks present in the working environment (including risks related to the spread of the virus), their effect on the health of the employee, and enact measures to lower the risks, in accordance with the results of the analysis. If it is necessary to carry out professional duties safely, the employer's risk analysis might also foresee the vaccination of employees, regular testing, reorganisation of work etc. in addition to using personal protective equipment as pre-emptive measures.

More information on lowering the risks during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in the Tööelu (Work Life) portal (in Estonian).

Which regulation is primary when it comes to the obligation to wear a mask? Is it this order or the regulation that provides that the measures for lowering the risk for employees are imposed by the employer in its risk assessment?

The basis for the requirement for the employees to wear a mask is the occupational health and safety regulation. In employment relationships the basis for going to work and using personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask) is the risk analysis of the working environment.

It is the task of the employer to evaluate the risks present in the working environment (including risks related to the spread of the virus), their effect on the health of the employee and, according to the results of the analysis, enact measures to lower the risks.

As a preventative measure, the employer might, for instance, foresee in the risk analysis that the employees have to get vaccinated if it is necessary to safely perform their professional duties. It is also possible to use other relevant measures, for instance to obligate the employees to wear personal protective equipment (including a mask, a protective shield), testing, reorganisation of work etc.

Can establishments that operate as a store-cafe determine on their own whether they are a store or a cafe?

No, they cannot, as they are simultaneously a store and a cafe. This means that it is compulsory to wear a mask while buying food as takeaway or providing delivery services and there is an obligation to check the client's infection risk status (COVID certificate) if catering takes place on the premises.

Is there also an obligation to check the COVID certificate in stores that have individual service (e.g. a bridal salon) where only one customer is being serviced at a time?

There is no obligation to check the certificate at the stores but the observance of other requirements imposed on commercial establishments (e.g. that the visitors of the store wear protective masks, dispersion, the availability of disinfectants, that the disinfection requirements are followed in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board) still has to be monitored, regardless of the number of clients.

Do traders have to ensure mask wearing and dispersion on their territory?

Wearing a mask and covering their nose and mouth is the client's obligation. The entrepreneur has an obligation to implement activities that are aimed at ensuring that the order is adhered to (that dispersion would be ensured and that the store has disinfectants available).

Starting from October 25, 2025: yes, the traders have to ensure that clients wear a mask and are dispersed on their territory, as well as the availability of disinfectants and the following of disinfecting requirements according to the instructions of the Health Board.

Wearing a mask is generally the responsibility of each individual themselves but in commercial spaces, service facilities and other unchecked public indoor spaces, the traders and service providers also have to monitor the observance of the obligation to wear a mask. This means that a trader is not allowed to let people who are not wearing a mask enter their sales or service space.

What to keep in mind when it comes to wearing masks?

  • A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or other object that is clearly not meant to be used as a protective mask does not count as a mask.
  • Children under the age of 12 do not have to wear a mask.
  • People for whom wearing a mask is medically contraindicated have to present a certificate that has been issued by a health care service provider to prove it.
  • The order of the Government does not regulate the mask wearing obligation of employees: in employment relationships, the basis for teh requirements of going to work and using personal protective equipment (including mask wearing) is the risk analysis of the working environment. If the analysis foresees mask wearing, a mask must be worn; if the risks of the spread of the virus have been lowered with other safety measures, those are the ones that need to be followed.

In order to stop the spread of the virus, the trader or service provider has to ensure dispersion of people in the public indoor spaces on their territory. The restriction does not apply to families moving together or if it is not reasonably possible to ensure dispersion.

If the local government, consumer protection, local police or other authority has a false interpretation of the obligations of the parties, where should the entrepreneur or an organisation representing entrepreneurs turn to for solving the situation?

The activities of all law enforcement bodies can be challenged or contested in court. In case of questions or a need to specify, both an entrepreneur and a private person always have the option of pre-emptively turning to the state helpline 1247 or writing to covid19[at]mkm[dot]ee.

Should a store use the official materials and radio commercials from spring for informing about the need to wear a mask or will new ones be produced? If yes then when?

As of August 26, 2021, the new visuals are being created and will be available soon.

If a tradesman fails to put up notifications to clients about the obligation to wear a mask and keep a distance, will he be sanctioned? If yes, then on what legal basis and what are the rates of the sanctions?

The duty to notify has not been imposed with a legal act. It has been taking place as cooperation between the state and the trader.

Is dispersion obligation the same as the 2+2 rule?

Dispersion is not the 2+2 rule but guidance to keep a safe distance with each other in a public indoor space. A public indoor space is a room that can be entered by anyone (this also includes public transport).

Starting from October, 2021: People have to be and move around in a public indoor space in a dispersed manner. The restriction does not apply to families or in cases where it is not possible to ensure these conditions reasonably.

The person responsible for the activities (i.e. the trader, the service provider, the organiser of the event, the catering establishment etc.) ensures, there would not be an unreasonable amount of people in the space or room. The Government order does not prescribe an exact distance -- ensuring dispersion means that groups of persons (e.g. families) or individuals should not be too close to each other or in direct contact.

Close contacts between people who are not usually together increase the probability of the virus spreading.

If a natural person's place of operations is involved in community days, for instance a day of neighbourhood home cafes, and if the natural person does not charge for the product or service she offers, she doesn't need to ask for the certificates?

Yes, it is not obligatory to ask for a certificate if the place is an unrestricted area that is situated in a public space, e.g. on the streets of a neighbourhood.

How should a trader or a service provider act if a client says that she can't wear a mask for health reasons?

People do not need to prove a medical contraindication or other special need, including inability to wear a mask, with a separate certificate. People's statements regarding having a contraindication to wearing a mask are considered sufficient. A client is the one who has to substantiate not wearing a mask and in more complicated situations the Health Board can do the evaluation if necessary, involving the Police and Border Guard Board.

Starting from October 25, 2021: Poeple for whom wearing a mask is contraindicated for health reasons have to present a certificate that has been issued by a health care service provider to prove that fact.

Wearing a mask is generally the responsibility of each individual themselves but in commercial establishments, service and other unchecked public indoor spaces the observation of the obligation to wear a mask must also be monitored by the service providers and traders. This means that a trader is not allowed to permit people who are not wearing a mask to enter it's sales or service area. Children under the age of 12 do not have to wear a protective mask.

It should also be kept in mind that a scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is clearly not meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. This is necessary for achieving the objective of mask wearing more efficiently -- to stop the spread of the coronavirus and thus protect the life and health of the people.

The order of the Government does not regulate the mask wearing obligation of the employees of the store or the service provider: in employment relationships, the requirements to go to work and use personal protective equipment (including wearing a mask) are based on the pre-emptive measures enacted in the risk analysis of the working environment.

If a private event takes place at a hotel conference hall, is it obligatory to check COVID certificates?

Yes, they must be checked because conference halls are subject to the obligation to present the certificates and this obligation also extends to private events taking place at the place of operations of the company.

Is there an obligation to check COVID certificates at the general areas (reading area, recreational area etc.) of hotels or hostels?

It is not necessary to check COVID certificates for providing accommodation services. It is, however, obligatory to check the infection risk status of persons in activities that have been listed in the order, e.g. the restaurant of a hotel or hostel (including while offering breakfast), spa, water park, sports club or other entertainment area.

Also, if the hotel or resort offers rooms for organising different events (including conferences, seminars or entertainment) it is obligatory to check that all participants over the age of 18 have a valid COVID-19 certificate. People under the age of 18 do not have to present any certificates. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate in the activities by presenting a corresponding medical certificate.

Wearing a protective mask is obligatory in public indoor spaces where COVID certificates are not being checked.'

Requirements for the employees

In employment relationships, the basis for going to work, the requirements regarding the use of personal protective equipment and other control measures of the spread of the virus (including the presenting of COVID certificates, testing, mask wearing etc.) is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the employer.

Is there an obligation to ask for the COVID certificate and follow the dispersion rule at catering establishments located at the airport?

The restrictions set for catering establishments apply to the catering establishments at the airport as well. The dispersion must be organised within reason and possibilities.

Is the yellow paper based immunisation passport also suitable for proving one's vaccination status?

Yes, it is.

The yellow immunisation passport is issued at the request of a person by a family doctor or some other medical worker carrying out vaccinations. If a person already has an immunisation passport and he wishes to prove his vaccination status with it later, he should bring it along to the vaccination. In that case, the person carrying out the vaccination can make a corresponding note in the passport. People who have been vaccinated abroad can also prove their vaccination status with the immunisation passport.

Among other things, the passport contains the disease against which the immunisation was administered, the date of immunisation, immune preparation that was used, the lot number of it, and the number of doses administered, also the name and other data of the immuniser.

What kind of restrictions apply on ferries?

Just like in other public transport, it is also obligatory to wear in mask on ferries. A mask is not obligatory for children under the age of 12. People who have a contraindication to wearing a mask for health reasons must present a corresponding certificate to the checker.

A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

Additionally, in the catering establishments of internal ferries it must be ensured that people are dispersed, disinfectants are available, and the disinfection rules are followed in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

What restrictions apply to stores?

Protective mask

In public spaces where the COVID infection risk is not being checked (i.e. spaces that can be entered without presenting a COVID certificate) it is obligatory to wear a mask or cover one's nose and mouth. For instance, a mask must be worn in stores, pharmacies, service halls of telecommunication companies and banks, post offices, libraries, as well as the service bureaus of the Police and Border Guard Board, the Social Insurance Board or the Health Board, and elsewhere.

The obligation to wear a mask still does not extend to children under the age of 12 or people for whom wearing a mask would not be reasonable due to health concerns or other substantial reasons.

Dispersion

In public indoor spaces of stores there is an obligation to ensure dispersion, availability of disinfectants and following of the disinfection requirements in accordance with the requirements of the Health Board.

COVID certificates

It is not necessary to present a COVID certificate in a store, except in places that are located on the same territory where the check of infection risk status is required (e.g. cinemas, restaurants, sports clubs, children's play rooms etc. that are located in shopping centres).

Requirements for the employees

In employment relationships, the basis for going to work, the requirements regarding the use of personal protective equipment and other control measures of the spread of the virus (including the presenting of COVID certificates, testing, mask wearing etc.) is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the employer.

Starting from October 25, 2021:

It is obligatory to wear a protective mask in the public indoor spaces of stores and shopping centres. A scarf, tube scarf, collar, visor or any other object that is clearly not meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A mask must be worn by everyone over the age of 12 and the trader has the right to refuse entry to the sales or service area to anyone not wearing a mask. If a person cannot wear a mask for health reasons, they have to prove their contraindication with a certificate that has been issued by a health care service provider.

Wearing a mask is generally the responsibility of each individual themselves but in commercial establishments, service and other unchecked public indoor spaces, the observance of the obligation to wear a mask must also be monitored by the service providers and traders

Should payments be made only by card during the pandemic, in order to avoid virus transmission with cash?

Yes, it is true that payments should be made

  • preferably contactlesly (payment limit has been temporarily raised to 50 Euros) or
  • with a bank card, as usual.

If possible, do not use cash.

If you have no other option than paying in cash, be vigilant about hand hygiene.

Is it allowed to offer breakfast in hotel restaurants?

Yes, it is, but the restrictions set to catering establishments need to be adhered to: when eating and drinking on the premises of a catering establishment, all customers over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or the negative results of a prior test. Consuming on the spot is allowed only if the checking of COVID-19 certificates is ensured.

It is not necessary to present the COVID certificate if the catering establishment is entered for picking up pre-ordered takeaway or providing delivery services (including ordering food to a hotel room), but in that case a protective mask must be worn. If a person refuses to wear a protective mask, the service provider or trader has the right to refuse to let them enter the sales or service area.

Dispersion, the availability of disinfectants and following the disinfection requirements according to the instructions of the Health Board must be ensured at the indoor premises of catering establishments.

Starting from October 25, 2021: In order to eat and drink on the premises, all people over the age of 18 must present a valid COVID certificate proving that they have completed a course of vaccinations within the past year (or completed a course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the diagnosis was confirmed. Simply a negative test result is not sufficient as a proof. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can dine on the premises by presenting a corresponding medical certificate. People under the age of 18 do not have to present any certificates.

What restrictions apply to catering establishments (restaurants, cafes, bars etc)?

The following rules apply in catering establishments:

COVID certificate

When eating and drinking on the premises of a catering establishment, all customers or participants over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or the negative results of a prior test. Consuming on the spot is allowed only if the checking of COVID certificates is ensured, and this applies even if the catering establishment is rented out e.g. for birthdays, company parties or other private events.

The organisers have the obligation to check the authenticity and validity of the COVID certificates. If there is substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

Protective mask

It is not necessary to present the COVID certificate if the catering establishment is entered for picking up pre-ordered takeaway or providing delivery services, but in that case a protective mask must be worn. If a person refuses to wear a protective mask, the service provider or trader has the right to refuse to let them enter the sales or service area.

Dispersion

Dispersion, the availability of disinfectants and following the disinfection requirements according to the instructions of the Health Board must be ensured at the indoor premises of catering establishments.

Requirements to the employees

In employment relationships, the basis for going to work, the requirements regarding the use of personal protective equipment and other control measures of the spread of the virus (including the presenting of COVID certificates, testing, mask wearing etc.) is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the employer.

Starting from October 25, 2021: In order to eat and drink on the premises, all people over the age of 18 must present a valid COVID certificate proving that they have completed a course of vaccinations within the past year (or completed a course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the diagnosis was confirmed. Simply a negative test result is not sufficient as a proof. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can dine on the premises by presenting a corresponding medical certificate. People under the age of 18 do not have to present any certificates.

 

Vaccination in Estonia

 

Are unvaccinated people allowed to keep going to work?

Yes, an unvaccinated person may keep going to work if the employer's risk analysis has reached the conclusion that the risk related to the spread of the virus have been lowered sufficiently with other pre-emptive measures like the use of personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask, a visor, a protective glass), reorganisation of work (e.g. dispersion, distance work) or regular testing of employees.

If the risk analysis has established that vaccination against the coronavirus is necessary for carrying out the professional duties safely and it is not possible to lower the risks with other measures or reorganise the work in any other way, the employer, in substantiated cases, has the right to issue a warning to the person, explain the possible consequences and as a last resort, to cancel the employment contract extraordinarily.

The employer, on the other hand, can help the employees to find answers to different vaccination-related questions and lower their fears by inviting expert-lectors to talk at the company. If there is a sufficient number of those who want it, it is also possible to organise vaccination on the spot. More information: vaktsineeri.ee.

More information on lowering the risks in a working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found from the Tööelu (Work Life) portal (in Estonian).

How can I as an entrepreneur contribute to getting my employees vaccinated?

Employers can use the Estonian Health Insurance Fund both to get information about the vaccination rate among the employees in their organisation and to invite vaccinators and counsellors to come to the spot:

  1. It is possible to ask the Estonian Health Insurance Fund about vaccination coverage among one's employees. Information is issued to organisations that have at least 30 employees. In order to get the information, write to vaktsineerimine[at]haigekassa[dot]ee.
  2. An employer can invite vaccinators to come to them if at least five persons want to get vaccinated. In order to agree upon a vaccination, write to vaktsineerimine[at]haigekassa[dot]ee.
  3. It is possible to invite an expert lecturer (doctors, nurses, medical students who have passed the immunology course and the elective course on vaccination) to the company to give an overview of the vaccines and answer questions. The service is paid for by the Health Insurance Fund. Apply for this by writing to vaktsineerimine[at]haigekassa[dot]ee. Inviting a lecturer does not bring any costs to the employer but there should be at least five people who are interested.

What does a meeting with a vaccination expert lecturer look like?

A meeting with an expert lecturer lasts for about 30 to 45 minutes. The following topics are covered:

  • The body's (immune system's) response to a viral infection
  • Vaccination vs. viral infection, side effects of vaccines, diseases that can be avoided with vaccination
  • The nature of the COVID vaccines
  • Opinions and myths related to vaccination
  • How COVID vaccinations are conducted (who is vaccinating, where to find information etc.)
  • In the second half of the meeting, the expert lecturer answers the questions of the participants.

Online, it is also possible to watch information sessions on COVID-19 vaccination that took place on September 27 and where doctors and top experts of the field answered the most common questions. The information session in Estonian, the information session in Russian, and the information session in Estonian with simultaneous interpretation into English can be found in the YouTube channel of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Information on vaccination locations, county level vaccination coordinators, the vaccines, their effects and more common myths can be found on the web page vaktsineeri.ee.

How can I get a third dose of the vaccine, i.e. a booster dose? Do the persons who have received a complementary dose have the same rights as those who have completed the course of vaccinations?

A COVID-19 booster dose or a third shot is necessary for people over the age of 65, adult residents of care homes, and employees in the fields of health care, social care and education, if more than half a year (six months) have passed since the course of vaccinations. The booster doses are administered with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty regardless of what vaccine the person received earlier.

Those who have received a complementary dose (including an additional dose and a booster dose) are subject to the same exemptions as currently fully vaccinated persons. This means that if no more than a year has passed since receiving the complementary dose, an asymptomatic person who has received an additional or a booster dose does not have to stay in self-isolation as a close contact or when entering Estonia, may participate in events and activities, eat on the spot at restaurants etc. with a COVID certificate.

Who gets a booster dose and how?

If you meet the above mentioned requirements and at least six months have passed since your last shot:

65+ year olds

  • Contact your family doctor. Booster shots are primarily administered by family doctors. If you are also planning on receiving a free flu vaccine from the family doctor, it is possible to receive both shots on the same day but preferably in different arms.
  • If necessary, you can also get vaccinated in other nearby vaccination locations. Please book an appointment to the nearest vaccinator by phone or the digital registry of the medical institution itself -- it is currently not yet possible to book appointments for a third dose in the national digital registry.
  • Important! Getting COVID-19 is very dangerous at a higher age and a booster dose lowers the risks significantly: according to Israeli data, in the 70+ age group, the infections decrease five times two weeks after receiving the third dose of the vaccine, getting sick decreases 11 times and severe infections almost 20 times.

Adult resident and employee of a care home:

  • The vaccination is generally organised by the care home's provider of nursing services.

Employee in the field of education:

  • The vaccination on school employees is organised by the school nurse who performs the vaccinations herself or directs the employees to the nearest vaccinator. In order to get vaccinated, contact your school nurse who will give you further instructions. NB! If the school nurse directs to the nearest vaccinator, the appointment needs to be booked by phone or from the digital registry of the medical institution. It is currently not yet possible to book appointments for third doses in the national digital registry.
  • The employees of kindergartens, hobby schools and institutions of higher education can turn to the vaccinator of their county to get vaccinated.

Employees in the fields of health care and social care:

  • Health care institutions generally vaccinate their staff themselves or direct them to the vaccinator of their county to get vaccinated.
  • The employees in the field of social care can turn to the vaccinator of their county to get vaccinated.

For people with immune deficiency the booster dose means a fourth shot which should be administered when at least half a year has passed since the additional or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine -- consult your doctor about the necessity of a booster shot.

Based on current knowledge, a booster dose is not necessary for people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have been vaccinated with one or two doses, and people who have been infected repeatedly.

Booster doses are also administered to other adults (starting from 18 years of age) who want them but no sooner than after eight months have passed since the end of the primary course of vaccinations. The booster shot can be received in the nearest vaccination location (see: vaktsineeri.ee).

What are the most common side effects of a booster dose or a third shot?

The post-vaccination reactions are similar to the side effects of the second dose: in the clinical studies, the most common were pain in the injection site and fatigue, less common were headache, muscle and joint pain and chills.

Am I allowed to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and tick-borne encephalitis or flu vaccine at the same time?

The vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis (the so-called tick vaccine):

  • The interval between the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis should be 14 days.

Flu vaccine:

  • There in no fixed interval of time that should be left between the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine. The vaccines can be received on the same day as well, but in orde to identify possible reactions, the shots should be administered to different arms.

How can I participate in activities where a COVID certificate is required if vaccinating is medically contraindicated for me?

  • If a person cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons i.e. she has a contraindication to vaccination (e.g. she has anaphylaxis or a strong allergic reaction to some ingredient of the vaccine, has had capillary leak syndrome in the past etc.), it is possible for her to use a certificate of negative test result in order to participate in activities. Contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination is documented by a family doctor or a treating specialist with the international disease classification (RHK-10) code intended for that and that is the basis for free testing at a health care service provider with a referral from a family doctor or the Family Doctor's Advice (1220 or +372 634 6630). If testing is organised in some other way than at a health care service provider, it is a paid service.

  • If a person can get neither vaccinated nor tested due to medical reasons, a family doctor or a treating specialist can issue a certificate based on which she can participate in activities. It has to be taken into account that the certificate is valid nationally, and in other countries the restrictions and requirements in force there should be adhered to. If a person travelling has a very rare (and medically proven) combined contraindication to both testing and vaccination, she has to stay in a 10 day self-isolation after arriving from a risk country. It is very strongly recommended that they also use personal protective equipment, e.g. an FFP2 or FFP3 respirator, when participating in activities.

  • If a person cannot get tested due to medical reasons (e.g. he has a specific facial trauma), it is possible to get vaccinated and participate in activities with a COVID immunisation certificate (either the paper based immunisation passport or a digital certificate).

Starting from October 25, 2021:

  • If a person cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, i.e. vaccination is contraindicated to him (e.g. he has anaphylaxis or a strong allergic reaction to a component of the vaccine, a previously occurred capillary leak syndrome etc.), they can use a certificate issued by a doctor to participate in activities. A contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination is established by a doctor who documents it with an international disease classification (ICD-10) code, on the basis of which she can issue a paper certificate.

It should be noted that it is only possible to use the abovementioned doctor's certificate to participate in activities within the country. In other countries you have to act according to the restrictions and requirements in force there. People who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons are urgently recommended to also use personal protective equipment, e.g. a FFP2 or FFP3 respirator, while participating in activities, in order to reduce the infection risk.

I received one dose of the vaccine and became infected with the coronavirus. What will happen to the second dose?

If you have already received one dose of the vaccine before you got infected, the necessity of a second shot depends on the moment you fell ill:

  • if you got COVID-19 within two weeks of receiving the first dose, the recommendation is to administer one dose of the vaccine on the sixth month after recovery. After this the course of vaccinations is considered completed. Before receiving the second dose, if necessary, a person can prove their infection risk status with a COVID-19 recovery certificate which is valid if less than 180 days have passed since the positive test result (PCR test).
  • if you got COVID-19 more than two weeks after receiving the shot, it is no longer necessary to administer the second shot and the course of vaccinations is considered completed.

In both cases it should be kept in mind that the vaccination status does not change automatically on the digital COVID certificates, rather a certificate needs to be created again after the health care service provider has entered the information proving recovery (for instance, a positive PCR test result). If there are any questions about the information on the COVID certificate created, you can turn to the user support line of the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre +372 794 3943 (7.00 to 22.00) or from the e-mail abi[at]tehik[dot]ee.

If there is an unavoidable need (due to travel restrictions in certain countries etc.) a doctor can administer a person who has recovered from COVID-19 a second dose as well if the person wishes (the minimum time between the two doses is the interval determined in the summary of vaccine properties).

How can I get a vaccination certificate if I do not have an internet connection and/or a computer and a printer, or a smartphone?

Estonians and foreigners who have an Estonian personal identification code for whom it is not possible to log into the Patient Portal for technical reasons or who cannot create the EU COVID certificates in the Patient Portal, can submit an application for that in all service bureaus of the Social Insurance Board.

In order to create the certificate, the people who turn to the Social Insurance Board must have:

  • an Estonian personal identification code and an identification document
  • the vaccine must have been administered in Estonia

Everyone who wishes to receive a certificate can fill out an application (DOCX) in advance and print it out. An application that has either been filled out in advance or on the spot must be submitted to a suitable service bureau of the Social Insurance Board and an EU COVID certificate will be sent to the person's e-mail address within three working days from that. Even though a vaccination certificate can already be created after one vaccination, in order to participate in different events and activities in Estonia, the course of vaccinations has to be completed. The service is free of charge for everyone. More info from the web page of the Social Insurance Board.

If a person does not have the possibility to print out the certificate or display it from a smartphone, they also have the opportunity, for instance, to turn to the local library. This, however, requires a working ID card and PIN codes. If necessary, a person can also be assisted by the social worker of the local municipality.

If the PIN codes of the ID card are expired or lost, it is possible to apply for a new username and password from the service offices of the Police and Border Guard Board. The service costs 5 Euros.

How can minors, children and youths under the age of 18 get vaccinated?

All residents of Estonia over the age of 12 can get vaccinated.

An appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination can be booked at the Patient Portal digilugu.ee, on the web page vaktsineeriapteegis.ee (in Estonian), from the state helpline 1247, and the registries of local hospitals and medical institutions. At the digital register an appointment for a minor must be booked by a parent or a guardian.

It is also possible to get vaccinated against the coronavirus at schools:

  • in general education schools and vocational schools the vaccination is organised by school nurses who, in addition to vaccinating students, are also authorised to vaccinate the staff and, if necessary, other members of the community.
  • the school nurse can organise the vaccination herself in the schools, include a health care service provider, or organise it so that the persons getting vaccinated arrive at the regional vaccination center.
  • as with other vaccinations, minors are vaccinated at educational institutions only with the consent of a parent or a guardian.

More information: vaktsineeri.ee/vaktsineerimine-koolides (in Estonian).

You can find information on different vaccination options from the web page vaktsineeri.ee. If you need further counselling in order to make a decision about the COVID-19 vaccination, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. Calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is provided in Estonian and Russian (in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

Can I get a second dose of some other vaccine if my first dose was AstraZeneca, and how?

In the current stage of vaccination it neither possible nor justified to change the vaccine during the course, thus the first recommendation is to finish the course of vaccination with the same vaccine.

All vaccines in use in Estonia help with the known COVID-19 strains, including the delta strain but it is important that a person has received a full course of vaccination. At a decision of a doctor it might, in certain cases and if it is organisationally possible, be justified to administer a second dose with an mRNA vaccine even if the course was started with the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

I received my COVID-19 vaccine abroad/did my COVID-19 PCR test abroad. Do I also get a digital certificate from the Patient Portal?

No, you cannot. The digital COVID-19 health certificates confirm the veracity of the information in the Estonian health information system. The Estonian health information system cannot confirm vaccinations performed or tests done abroad and in order to get the corresponding certificate you should turn to the institution where the vaccination or the test was done.

If I have received my first vaccine dose abroad, is it possible to receive the second dose in Estonia?

Yes, it is. For this you need to be issued a certificate about the first vaccination, and book yourself an appointment for receiving the second dose at the digital registry or by calling the state helpline 1247 (+372 600 1247).

You should still keep in mind the interval between the two doses of the different vaccines:

  • the Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine: 6 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 7 days after the second dose)
  • the Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine: 4 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 14 days after the second dose)
  • the Astra Zeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine: 12 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 15 days after the second dose)

How can I change or cancel a vaccination appointment?

Vaccination appointments (1st dose) booked through the digital registry and the call centre can be changed and cancelled in the national digital registry.

The appointment for the second dose is given by the vaccinator. We recommend definitely keeping that appointment. If there is an urgent need to change the time of administering the second dose (illness, becoming a close contact etc.), it is necessary to contact the medical institution that administered the first dose and ask if it is possible to find a new time slot. If this medical institution does not perform vaccinations at other times anymore or it is not possible to book a new appointment for other reasons, the previous appointment needs to be cancelled there (by phone or e-mail) and a new appointment for a second dose needs to be found by calling medical institutions directly.

It is possible to find the medical institutions performing vaccinations from the map at https://vaktsineeri.ee/en/covid-19/getting-a-vaccination/. It is also possible to turn to the state information line 1247 which aids people in finding a suitable medical institution and its contacts.

Are women who want to have a child, are pregnant or breastfeeding allowed to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Yes. The protection that the vaccine offers against getting sick outweighs all the risks related to getting vaccinated, including for women who are planning to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • if a woman who is pregnant gets infected, it increases the risk of both premature labour and the probability that the woman ends up needing intensive care. Vaccination reduces these risks considerably.
  • if a breastfeeding mother is vaccinated, the child will also obtain somewhat of a protection against COVID-19.

There is no biological reason why corona vaccines should be unsafe for pregnant women, foetuses or children who are being breastfed. This is also supported by animal tests in which multiplied vaccine doses administered to rats did not bring about any direct or indirect harm to pregnancy, the development of the foetus, birth or the postnatal period.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), where the Society of Estonian Gyneacologists is also a member, supports vaccinating pregnant and breastfeeding mothers against COVID-19, accounting also for the risk of infection, the size of the pregnancy, the health condition of the mother etc.

If you need further counselling to make a COVID-19 vaccination decision, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

How is the vaccination organised in the Defence Forces?

The principles that apply to vaccination in the Defence Forces are the same that apply in the rest of Estonia: vaccinations started with the medical workers and units that are important for the daily functioning of the Defence Forces. The vaccines are the best possibility for conquering the coronavirus and returning to the regular order of life, and the Defence Forces certainly encourage our personnel to get vaccinated. The Defence Forces consider it normal that, due to the goal of our activities -- to maintain the defence capabilities of the state, our staff and servicemen are willing to protect themselves, their companions and close ones by getting vaccinated.

Refusing vaccination means that regular restrictions in force in the country must be taken into account. Furthermore, additional restrictions might be enacted with a decree of the Commander of the Defence Forces, applying to the service and movement in the unit and outside of the territory of the unit, in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Each time when people who have not been vaccinated leave the unit, they must do a COVID-19 rapid test upon returning.

I am not vaccinated against COVID-19 -- am I now unable to go to other countries?

A valid vaccination certificate is not a basis for travelling abroad but, depending on the requirements of the destination country, may offer an exemption from certain restrictions that the country has enacted (e.g. self-isolation).

The requirements of the destination country for entering, the conditions for the self-isolation obligation, and restrictions in force on the spot need to be taken into account when travelling. Information on the conditions for entry into other countries can be found on the Reisi Targalt website (in Estonian).

How to explain receiving positive coronavirus test results after getting vaccinated?

The vaccine itself definitely does not contain anything that could cause coronavirus. The vaccine contains only very particular virus particles, not the whole virus.

Thus it is unfortunately unclear where the vaccinated person got the disease. The incubation period of the virus is 2-12 days, so it cannot be ruled out that the person came into contact with the virus more than a week before receiving the first dose of the vaccine, or even on the day of vaccination. It could have taken place at the hospital or any other place that the person happened to be at (public transport, store, elevator, public toilet, and other public places).

Unfortunately five days is not enough time for the vaccine to already offer protection. The test data from the Phase III trials of Pfizer show that infection rates among the vaccinated started to noticeably decrease only 12 days after receiving the first shot. The maximum protection only occurs a week after receiving the second dose.

How can I get vaccinated against COVID-19?

A vaccination appointment can be booked:

  • at the digital registry at http://www.digilugu.ee
  • by calling 1247 (every day between 08.00 and 20.00)
  • at a pharmacy: find a pharmacy closest to you and book an appointment at the web page vaktsineeriapteegis.ee (in Estonian)
  • by calling the registry of the local hospital or medical institution.

It is also possible to get immunised without prior registration in vaccination buses and vaccination points. You can find all the options in different towns and counties from the web page vaktsineeri.ee -- locations that have no prior booking requirement have a green label "without registration".

Within the limits of Tallinn, a group of at least ten adults have the option of ordering a vaccine ambulance for themselves. The service can be ordered by sending an e-mail to ltkhvak[at]keskhaigla[dot]ee. The query must contain an address where the ambulance is ordered, a date, the desired time of day, the number of people who want to get vaccinated (10 at minimum) and their personal identification codes. The vaccination ambulance team will contact the person who submitted the order to agree upon the exact time.

The location of vaccination is not connected to a person's official place of residence: everyone can book an appointment and go to get vaccinated in an area suitable to them all across Estonia. A booking for a minor must be done by his legal representative.

In addition to hospitals and private health care service providers it is possible to get vaccinated at schools (more information: vaktsineeri.ee (in Estonian). The elderly and people in risk groups also continue to be vaccinated by family doctors.

Make certain to be on time for your vaccination appointment or let the vaccinating institution know at first chance if you will not be able to go to your agreed upon vaccination for some reason.

If you need further counselling on COVID-19 vaccinations, we recommend that you consult with your family doctor or call the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

Am I allowed to postpone getting the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, so that I get it in 12 weeks instead of the initially planned 8 weeks?

Starting from March 15, 2021, the recommendation of the state Immunoprophylaxis Expert Committee is to administer the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine 12 weeks after the initial dose. Upon agreement with the vaccinator or the vaccinating institution, it is possible to postpone the appointment for receiving the second dose from the initially arranged time to 12 weeks.

I was vaccinated with the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, can I register the fact of this vaccination somewhere in Estonia?

Estonia recognises the vaccinations that are recognised by the person’s country of. There is no separate way to register vaccinations received in other countries but the vaccination status of a person does need to be proven on the border.

How does vaccination take place for people who are in Estonia temporarily (do not have an Estonian personal identification code and health insurance)?

Vaccination is free in Estonia for:

  • foreigners who do not have an Estonian personal identification code but are here with a residency, study or work permit
  • European Union citizens staying here for longer who have a valid European Health Insurance Card.

Tourists temporarily visiting the country cannot get vaccinated in Estonia.

How long will I be infectious if I get sick after getting vaccinated?

If a person gets infected with the COVID-19 disease after receiving the first or the second dose of the vaccine, he can be infectious for up to then days in most cases and has to stay in isolation.

Can I get a vaccination passport from my family doctor if I turn to them for vaccination?

Persons who get vaccinated at their family doctor's office will, upon request, be issued an immunisation passport in paper format by the family doctor.

Many people will already have received an immunisation passport in the past. If you are one of them, please take it with you when you go out to get vaccinated.

What documents do I need to be able to prove on the border that I have been vaccinated against COVID-19?

Vaccinated in Estonia

If you have been vaccinated in Estonia, you can go to the Patient Portal digilugu.ee to create a digital COVID certificate that meets the European Union standards and can be used both as a printout and in a smart device.

The course of vaccinations is considered completed and the certificate valid from the time of achieving maximum protection according to the instructions of the particular manufacturer:

  • for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty, 7 calendar days from the second dose of the vaccine;
  • for the AstraZeneca vaccine Vaxzevria, 15 calendar days from the second dose of the vaccine;
  • for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, 14 calendar days from the second dose of the vaccine;
  • for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, 14 calendar days after one dose of the vaccine.

People who have received an additional vaccine dose after completing the course, and no more than one year has passed since the additional dose, are equated to a vaccinated person.

Vaccinated in other countries

Estonia recognizes those vaccinations that are recognized by the country of origin (including also e.g. Sputnik V, Sputnik Lite, Sinovac, Sinopharm etc.). The course of vaccinations is considered completed and the certificate valid from the time of achieving maximum protection according to the instructions of the particular manufacturer (e.g. 21 days after the second dose of the vaccine for Sputnik V). People who have received an additional vaccine dose after completing the course, and no more than one year has passed since the additional dose, are equated to a vaccinated person.

Suitable for proving vaccination:

  • an immunisation passport, a copy of it or a relevant certificate (including a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate that meets the EU requirements);
  • an officially certified printout from a database of another country;
  • a paper immunisation passport that a health care service provide can provide upon request;

The document proving vaccination in another country must be in Latin or Slavic alphabet, in Estonian, Russian or English and contain the following information:

  • the disease against which the immunisation was done;
  • the date of immunisation;
  • the vaccine medicinal product that was used;
  • how many doses have been administered to the person;
  • the data of the issuer of the certificate.

If I am vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from it, do I have to stay in self-isolation as a close contact or after crossing the border?

It is not obligatory to stay in quarantine as a close contact or after crossing the border for asymptomatic people who are:

  • vaccinated, i.e. completed the course of vaccinations against COVID-19, achieved maximum protection after the last dose of the vaccine, and no more than one year has passed since the last dose of the vaccine
  • recovered from COVID-19, and no more than 180 days have passed since the SARS-CoV-2 test that confirmed the diagnosis or the date of confirming the diagnosis
  • considered the same as vaccinated, i.e. have received one dose of the vaccine after recovery from COVID-19, achieved maximum protection after the vaccine dose, and no more than one year has passed from the last dose of the vaccine; or who have been infected with COVID-19 in between two doses of the vaccine (no sooner than two weeks after the first shot), have recovered from COVID-19 and no more than one year has passed since the SARS-CoV-2 test that confirmed the diagnosis or the date of confirming the diagnosis.

It is still obligatory for a person who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, recovered from the disease or considered the same as vaccinated to wear a mask or cover one's nose and mouth indoors within 10 days of having been a close contact. The obligation to does not extend to children under the age of 12 or if wearing a mask is not possible for health reasons, due to the nature of a job or activity or for other substantial reasons.

Additionally, an asymptomatic close contact who has had the coronavirus or is vaccinated against it must monitor their health closely during the next 10 days and follow the measures enacted by the government and the Health Board to stop the spread of the virus.

Following the measures is necessary as there is still very little scientific information on how probable it is that people who have had the coronavirus or are vaccinated against it can still get infected with or spread COVID-19.

Can an employer request an employee's health data (incl. vaccination) and under what conditions?

The employee is generally not obliged to share their health data with the employer, including information about vaccination.

The employer has the right to ask the employee for confirmation that the employee's state of health does not hinder the performance of work duties and does not pose a danger to other employees or customers.

In particular, the employer has the right to ask about the employee's vaccination in justified cases, if the results of the risk assessment of the work environment show that vaccination is one of the possible measures to prevent infection in the given position and to perform work tasks safely in the future.

Although the employer has the right to ask about vaccination in certain cases, the employee has the right to refuse to share the relevant information with the employer.

In a situation where the employer, based on the results of the risk assessment of the work environment, asks the employee for information about their vaccination status or offers vaccination to the employee, but the employee refuses to provide information related to vaccination or refuses to get vaccinated, the employer can:

  • anticipate and take other measures that can mitigate the risks - for example, additional personal protective equipment, collective protective equipment, etc.

  • if necessary, reorganise the work or the part of the task performed by the employee. If the parties reach an agreement on the reorganisation of work, the terms of the employment contract (for example, change of duties) can only be changed by agreement of the parties on the basis of § 12 of the Employment Contracts Act.

If the employer is not reasonably able to reorganise the work or take other measures to effectively mitigate the risks, the employer may have the right to terminate the employment relationship with the employee pursuant to § 88 (1) 2) of the Employment Contracts Act due to unsuitability to perform the tasks.

If a company has more than 30 employees, it is possible for an employer to make a query to the Health Board about vaccine coverage in its company. An application for that needs to be sent to vaktsineerimine[at]haigekassa[dot]ee. In order to protect personal information, the Health Board only gives out information in a limited form and one of three possible options are forwarded as a reply: 1) less than 50%, 2) the exact percentage if the vaccination coverage is in the range of 50-80%, 3) more than 80%.

Is it possible and under what conditions can an employer fire an employee (eg in a catering establishment) who refuses to be vaccinated?

Vaccination is voluntary in Estonia. Enabling vaccination in the workplace is one of the possible measures taken by the employer to ensure the safety of the working environment and the protection of the employees´ health, but vaccination cannot be the only way to prevent getting infected with biological risk factors.

If an employee refuses to get vaccinated, the employer can:

  • anticipate and take other measures that can mitigate the risks - for example, additional personal protective equipment, collective protective equipment, etc. The employer therefore has a responsibility primarily to assess whether, for example, the health of the customer service provider and customers can be protected by other measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask, disinfecting hands, using a plexiglass, reducing direct contacts, more frequent surface cleaning and other measures.

  • if necessary, reorganise the work for the specific section of the work or for specific employees. If the parties reach an agreement on the reorganisation of work, the terms of the employment contract (for example, change of duties) can only be changed by agreement of both parties on the basis of § 12 of the Employment Contracts Act.

If the results of the risk assessment of the work environment show that vaccination is particularly important in certain sectors or activities (e.g. health care, nursing homes) and that other measures are not effective enough to protect the health of the employees or clients and patients, then vaccination may be justified.

Vaccination alone may not be helpful in ensuring employee safety, and risk mitigation measures often need to be applied simultaneously.

Where can I get information on the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination if I do not have a familly doctor?

Information on the different vaccines used in Estonia and the organisation of the vaccination can be found on the web page vaktsineeri.ee.

If you do not have a family doctor but need further counselling on the COVID-19 vaccination or you have questions, you can call the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is provided in Estonian and Russian (in English every day from 15.00 to 17.00).

Can a person choose which manufacturer's vaccine is administered to her?

Yes -- a choice between the Janssen, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be made when booking a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at the digital registry. The AstraZeneca vaccine is not offered to people under the age of 50.

Additionally, the indications and contraindications might differ somewhat between the vaccines of different manufacturers and in that case the person administering the vaccine will choose the suitable one.

Does a corona test need to be done before vaccination?

It is not necessary to do a corona test before vaccination. It is, however, necessary to come to the vaccination healthy. Postpone the vaccination temporarily if you are currently suffering from a fever, have COVID-19 or have been a close contact.

Is vaccination voluntary in Estonia?

Yes, vaccinations are voluntary in Estonia and the same also applies for the vaccination against COVID-19.

At the same time, it is highly recommended to get immunised against the coronavirus as vaccination reduces severe illness and hospitalisations, makes it possible to also protect those who cannot get vaccinated themselves, and is probably the only real solution for turning back to our regular order of life.

Information on where and how to get vaccinated can be found on the web page vaktsineeri.ee. If you need further counselling to make a COVID-19 vaccination decision, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

How will the COVID-19 vaccination be organised in Estonia? Who are conducting the vaccinations and where?

Vaccinations can be administered by those doctors, nurses and midwives who have completed a basic training on immunization and refresher training within the previous five years.

Estonia has an agreement with the coronavirus vaccine manufacturers that the vaccines are delivered to the Health Board where the necessary vaccine storage conditions (including extremely low temperatures and following of the cold-chain requirements) are guaranteed. The Health Board organises the national distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines to the vaccination locations according to the vaccine distribution plan. Transport is guaranteed in a way that does not necessitate the creation of new and irregular storage conditions in vaccination locations. Even the most high maintenance vaccines can be stored in regular conditions for five days.

In 2021, the vaccination against the coronavirus is free to all Estonian residents (including those who are not covered by health insurance), persons who are in Estonia with a study, residence or work permit and European Union citizens staying here longer. Vaccination is voluntary.

More information on where and how to get vaccinated can be found on the web page vaktsineeri.ee:.

 

Work during the emergency situation

 

Are unvaccinated people allowed to keep going to work?

Yes, an unvaccinated person may keep going to work if the employer's risk analysis has reached the conclusion that the risk related to the spread of the virus have been lowered sufficiently with other pre-emptive measures like the use of personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask, a visor, a protective glass), reorganisation of work (e.g. dispersion, distance work) or regular testing of employees.

If the risk analysis has established that vaccination against the coronavirus is necessary for carrying out the professional duties safely and it is not possible to lower the risks with other measures or reorganise the work in any other way, the employer, in substantiated cases, has the right to issue a warning to the person, explain the possible consequences and as a last resort, to cancel the employment contract extraordinarily.

The employer, on the other hand, can help the employees to find answers to different vaccination-related questions and lower their fears by inviting expert-lectors to talk at the company. If there is a sufficient number of those who want it, it is also possible to organise vaccination on the spot. More information: vaktsineeri.ee.

More information on lowering the risks in a working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found from the Tööelu (Work Life) portal (in Estonian).

What should I do if my employer demands that I am vaccinated against COVID-19 but I have a contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination?

To ensure the safety of the working environment, the employer must first have conducted a risk analysis that evaluates the risks related to biological risk factors, including the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The employer has to evaluate in the risk analysis which measures must be enacted to prevent the infection risk.

If one of the measures that the employer foresees is also vaccination against CIVID-19 but it is contraindicated to the employee, the employer must consider whether he can ensure that the employee and customers are safe from infection risk with some other measure -- e.g. the use of personal protective equipment, reorganising the work, regular testing of the employee, or other suitable measure. The employer must weigh whether he can offer the employee working with the kind of duties where the risk to the employee herself and other people would be smaller.

If it is not possible for the employer to reorganise the work or offer other duties, and it is not possible to lower the risks with other measures, the employer might, in substantiated cases, have the right to extraordinarily terminate the employment contract of the employee based on § 88 subsection 1 point 2 of the Employment Contracts Act for non-suitability for the position.

Does an employee (or a customer) have the right to refuse having his body temperature measured?

Yes, as the measuring of body temperature is the processing of personal data. According to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it is prohibited to process personal health data unless there is a specific basis in the existing law that would allow the processing of health data.

In the working environment, the main concerns are how it is being done, how people are informed of this, and what is done with the data afterwards or what happens if the employee or the customer actually does have a fever. The rights of the company/employer are rather limited in this context.

The Estonian Data Protection Inspectorate has explained that it is not allowed to process a person's health data based on so-called legitimate interest and the legal basis for processing health data can only be a law or the person's consent. Based on this, an employer can process a person's health data in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak only if an employee has voluntarily given this data to the employer.

That is, before measuring body temperatures it is certainly necessary to consider whether this is a necessary and only measure with which to separate out a sick person, what happens if a person refuses, and whether there are other options for avoiding the spread of the disease.

The issue is also how the body temperature is being measured and what device is used. If it is done by a person, is that person's safety ensured, as he has to be very close to the potentially infected person (do a visor, mask, gloves offer him sufficient protection, does the potential effect of a psychosocial risk factor come into play with this task). If it is done by a remote reading device, how is a person with a higher body temperature informed and what happens after that (a customer is not allowed to enter, an employee is asked to leave work, who pays for that day?).

Can an employer demand that I wear a mask during work hours?

Yes, if an employer has established, based on the working environment risk analysis, that it is not possible to avoid or reduce the risk of infection by using collective protective equipment (e.g. installing protective glass shields in order to stop the spread of the virus) or measures regarding the organisation of the work (keeping a distance, availability of disinfectants).

The employer has an obligation to inform the employees of the results of the evaluation of working environment risks, including of health risks and measures taken to avoid damage to health. The employer explains to the employees the possible risk areas that the risk analysis discovered (a place of infection in a specific company while performing specific duties) and what the measures that are being taken are. As collective protective equipment and measures regarding the organisation of work should always be preferable to the use of personal protective equipment, the employees must be explained why it was decided to favour the use of personal protective equipment.

The employer must also make sure that the personal protective equipment does not pose an undue burden to the wearer, would fit the user and be suitable for use in the specific working conditions. If these requirements are not fulfilled in case of some employees, the employee must turn to the employer and solutions must be found in co-operation (e.g. using another type of mask or reorganising the work so that the employee would be able to take more breaks).

The employee has an obligation to use the personal protective equipment in accordance with the user manual and instructions given by the employer. Thus the employer also has the right to demand that the employee use personal protective equipment (a mask) and the employee has an obligation to use the personal protective equipment. If the employee does not use the personal protective equipment, regardless of the employer's comments, the employer has the option of issuing a warning to the employee. As an extreme measure and in case issuing a warning was not sufficient and the employee is still in breach of his obligations, the employer has the right to extraordinarily cancel the employment relationship, as, despite warnings, the employee has disregarded the employers reasonable orders or breached his duties.

When can an employee go back to work after having the coronavirus?

The family doctor is the medical expert whose opinion and decision an employer can and must accept. In this case, an employee must be allowed back to work even though the test results are still positive.

More can be read from the Estonian Family Medicine Association's instructions to family doctors. the instructions clearly state that even though a patient is no longer infectious, her SARS-CoV-2 PCR analysis result may still be positive for several weeks. That is also the reason why family doctors are no longer referring people to repeat testing before the certificate of incapacity for work is terminated.

In order to prevent the spread of the virus in the working environment you should evaluate the probability of the occurrence of a biological risk factor and, if necessary, take measures that would help to prevent the risk.

Are the any recommendations about how an employer could lower the risk that a person with a COVID-19 certificate brings the next outbreak into the company?

Based on the working environment risk analysis, the employer has the right to implement further measures, including demanding that a mask, gloves etc. are worn.

If an employee is not vaccinated, is wearing a mask a sufficient measure? Is it also important what kind of a mask is worn -- is a medical mask sufficient or should it rather be an FFP2 mask?

Which mask is the most efficient in a given situation must be worked out on the basis of the working environment risk analysis, i.e. it all depends on the risk level and the number of contacts. An FFP2 mask that is used according to the requirements is certainly a more efficient measure than other masks. See also the explanation on the kriis.ee web page: https://www.kriis.ee/en/personal-protection-equipment-masks-and-similar

Is the employer obligated to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?

According to the coronavirus vaccination plan (page 5), vaccination against COVID-19 in Estonia is free of charge to everyone in 2021. Vaccination is voluntary but each vaccination contributes to decreasing the spread of the virus and normalisation of the situation, and makes it possible to also protect those who cannot get vaccinated for different reasons.

Even though, according to the regulation on the biological risk factor of the working environment there is a general requirement that vaccination takes place at the expense of the employer, the vaccination against COVID-19 is currently taking place according to the vaccination plan (i.e. immunisation against the coronavirus is free in Estonia) and it is not possible for all employers to acquire the vaccine; it is also not known when it would be possible.

According to § 6 subsection 3 of the regulation on the biological risk factor of the working environment, the employer must consult the occupational health doctor on the necessity and suitability of vaccinating employees.

See more: "Occupational health and safety requirements in a working environment influenced by a biological risk factor" (in Estonian).

Where would it be possible to find information on whether the employees of my company are vaccinated?

If the company has more than 30 employees, the employer can make a query to the Health Board about the vaccination coverage in its company. An application for that needs to be sent to vaktsineerimine[at]haigekassa[dot]ee.

In order to protect personal data, the Health Board gives out information in a limited form and one of three possible options are forwarded as a reply:

  1. less than 50%
    1. the exact percentage, if the vaccination coverage is in the range of 50-80%
  2. more than 80%.

The Estonian Health Board can answer the query based on the information they have at their disposal. A person's vaccination status is checked based on immunisation reports and a person's connection to the company is based on the insurance cover data that has been entered into the Health Board database. In the reply to the query, all persons that have been vaccinated with at least one dose are also considered to be vaccinated.

If an employee of a trader ignores the national obligation to wear a mask, is the trader, i.e. her employer at risk of being sanctioned? If yes then what sanctions? And what kind of sanctions does the employee risk getting?

According to § 24 clause 2 of the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act, an employer is required to ensure that the requirements established for safety from infection are met at the workplace and according to § 13 subsection 1 clause 11 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act an employer has to provide the employees with personal protective equipment, and according to clause 12 verify compliance with the occupational health and safety requirements. Thus the employer also has to ensure that the employees have masks, if the employer's risk analysis foresees it.

If the employee is not carrying out work duties at the time but is participating in an activity listed in the order of the Government of the Republic, it is his obligation as a client to wear a mask.

Additionally, § 14 subsection 1 clause 4 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (TTOS) says that the employee is required to make correct use of the prescribed personal protective equipment and keep it in working order and if she breaches this requirement, she is liable to the employer. The employer can issue her a warning for breach of duties. In the employment contract an employer and an employee may agree upon a contractual penalty for the violation of the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (TTOS § 14.1).

If the clients have to wear a protective mask, do the same requirements apply to the employees as well? Is an employee allowed to wear a visor?

It is obligatory to behave in accordance with the risk analysis of the employer.

If the employer has, in the working environment risk analysis, come to the conclusion that the risks related to the spread of the virus have been lowered sufficiently with the use of other personal protective equipment, e.g. a visor or a protective glass, the employer does not have to wear a protective mask.

If the risk analysis has established that wearing a protective mask is necessary to safely perform the professional duties, the employee is obligated to wear a mask.

It is the task of the employer to assess the risks present in the working environment (including risks related to the spread of the virus), their effect on the health of the employee, and enact measures to lower the risks, in accordance with the results of the analysis. If it is necessary to carry out professional duties safely, the employer's risk analysis might also foresee the vaccination of employees, regular testing, reorganisation of work etc. in addition to using personal protective equipment as pre-emptive measures.

More information on lowering the risks during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in the Tööelu (Work Life) portal (in Estonian).

Which regulation is primary when it comes to the obligation to wear a mask? Is it this order or the regulation that provides that the measures for lowering the risk for employees are imposed by the employer in its risk assessment?

The basis for the requirement for the employees to wear a mask is the occupational health and safety regulation. In employment relationships the basis for going to work and using personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask) is the risk analysis of the working environment.

It is the task of the employer to evaluate the risks present in the working environment (including risks related to the spread of the virus), their effect on the health of the employee and, according to the results of the analysis, enact measures to lower the risks.

As a preventative measure, the employer might, for instance, foresee in the risk analysis that the employees have to get vaccinated if it is necessary to safely perform their professional duties. It is also possible to use other relevant measures, for instance to obligate the employees to wear personal protective equipment (including a mask, a protective shield), testing, reorganisation of work etc.

Do traders have to ensure mask wearing and dispersion on their territory?

Wearing a mask and covering their nose and mouth is the client's obligation. The entrepreneur has an obligation to implement activities that are aimed at ensuring that the order is adhered to (that dispersion would be ensured and that the store has disinfectants available).

Starting from October 25, 2025: yes, the traders have to ensure that clients wear a mask and are dispersed on their territory, as well as the availability of disinfectants and the following of disinfecting requirements according to the instructions of the Health Board.

Wearing a mask is generally the responsibility of each individual themselves but in commercial spaces, service facilities and other unchecked public indoor spaces, the traders and service providers also have to monitor the observance of the obligation to wear a mask. This means that a trader is not allowed to let people who are not wearing a mask enter their sales or service space.

What to keep in mind when it comes to wearing masks?

  • A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or other object that is clearly not meant to be used as a protective mask does not count as a mask.
  • Children under the age of 12 do not have to wear a mask.
  • People for whom wearing a mask is medically contraindicated have to present a certificate that has been issued by a health care service provider to prove it.
  • The order of the Government does not regulate the mask wearing obligation of employees: in employment relationships, the basis for teh requirements of going to work and using personal protective equipment (including mask wearing) is the risk analysis of the working environment. If the analysis foresees mask wearing, a mask must be worn; if the risks of the spread of the virus have been lowered with other safety measures, those are the ones that need to be followed.

In order to stop the spread of the virus, the trader or service provider has to ensure dispersion of people in the public indoor spaces on their territory. The restriction does not apply to families moving together or if it is not reasonably possible to ensure dispersion.

In which indoor spaces is it allowed to organise meetings without the obligation to check COVID certificates? Is it only in the company's own offices or can e.g. the meeting room of a joint office also be used?

There is no obligation to present the certificate in indoor rooms that are not public spaces (i.e. they can be entered for all who wish to). The meeting rooms of a company are usually not public spaces.

If a meeting takes place in a working environment (this extends to both people who come in daily contact with each other and people from different teams), it is not necessary to check the infection risk statuses.

In which cases can a COVID-19 infection be an accident at work? How do I determine the location of infection in the case of this supposed accident at work?

According to § 22 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an occupational accident is damage to the health of an employee or death of an employee which occurred in the performance of a duty assigned by an employer or in other work performed with the employer’s permission, during a break included in the working time, or during other activity in the interests of the employer. Getting infected with the coronavirus is not considered to be an accident at work if it is not in a causal relationship with the employee's work or working environment (e.g. an office worker gets infected with the virus but it is essentially impossible to determine where the infection took place).

This kind of a situation may possibly occur in a medical institution if the employer and the employee herself do not implement measures to avoid the spread of the virus, i.e. it is possible to determine a concrete connection with the working environment and the work being done.

If getting infected with COVID was caused by work, this can definitely be seen as getting an occupational disease. More on this topic can be read on the web page of the Labour Inspectorate.

If an employee does not agree to present the COVID certificate and one of the measures in the risk analysis to lower the risks is an obligation to wear a mask, does wearing a mask release an employee from proving that they are vaccinated?

This depends on the results of the working environment risk analysis and the effectiveness and sufficiency of the measures enacted by the employer. Mask wearing in useful only if all requirements are followed and the masks used are relevant and take into account the specific risks.

See more:

Is it allowed to ask employees to present a COVID certificate for participation at, for instance, an intra-company training or summer days? There is no risk analysis covering that.

Yes, but still following the principles of good faith and reason.

The organising of events is regulated by an order of the Government of the Republic that is not directly related to working environment. At events and activities taking place in public indoor and outdoor spaces, all participants over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving their vaccination, recovery or negative results of a prior test. A COVID certificate must also be presented if the activity takes place at a location of service provision, e.g. when a catering establishment, conference hall, sauna, children's play room, entertainment establishment etc is rented out.

The restrictions set to sports and catering are also not connected to employees of a particular company but rather the location where the event takes place. It is obligatory to check certificates if an event, training or any other activity is organised in a catering establishment or some other public space. However, if a catering establishment is offering catering or, for instance, brings the food to the company's office which is not public space, there is no obligation to check certificates.

There is also no obligation to check the COVID certificate at outdoor events that take place on an unrestricted territory (in areas where people are in constant movement and it is not possible to determine a specific place of activities or participants, e.g. in the forest, on the streets of a city neighbourhood etc.).

An employer must still re-evaluate the risks related to its employees and, based on that, decide the measures enacted in the working environment and put together an action plan.

It should be kept in mind that even one sick customer or a colleague who has come to work sick can infect the whole staff.

Starting from October 25, 2021: in events and organised activities taking place in public indoor and outdoor spaces, all participants over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery, just presenting a negative test result is no longer sufficient. If vaccination is contraindicated to a person due to health reasons, they can participate in the activities by presenting a corresponding medical certificate.

Is it obligatory to carry out a working environment risk analysis of the impacts of biological risk factors and/or amend it due to the coronavirus?

Making it possible to get vaccinated is one of the possible measures that an employer can enact in order to ensure the maintenance of the safety of the working environment and the health of the employee. Measures to lower the working environment risk can only be determined if prior to that it has been mapped what the risk is and how big the probability is that it will be realised. Thus the employer must definitely review their working environment risk analysis in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, amend it if necessary and, based on a risk analysis that reflects reality, put together a relevant action plan.

The vaccine is certainly not the only possibility to avoid infection with biological risk factors and the employees have the right to refuse to get vaccinated. Thus the employer must also consider other measures to lower the risks, for instance:

  • issuing further personal protective equipment;
  • reorganising the work.

In which working environment would it be proportional to demand full vaccination of employees? Is it allowed to demand that from office workers?

Enacting the requirement is proportional in a working environment where the employee has a very direct and constant contact with other people (including touching other people, contact with biological material etc.), e.g. in medicine, care work, provision of beauty services etc.

When in comes to office work, it all depends on the circumstances and how the work is organised but certainly it is possible to implement other measures that lower risks there, including distance work, dispersion, the wearing of masks etc.

An employer may demand a vaccination certificate and offer testing at the employer's expense as an alternative. However, it has been said that an employer can pay for the tests for two weeks and if the employee does not present a certificate after that,

the employment relationship may be terminated?

The underlying principle of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is that if an employer enacts a requirement in the working environment, it will also cover the costs related to it.

According to § 12 upper 1 subsection 3 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (TTOS), the planning and implementation of measures related to occupational health, safety and hygiene may not involve the employees in financial cost.

The law also specifies (TTOS § 13 upper 1 subsection 7) that an employer shall cover the costs related to medical examinations and the regulation directs the employer to cover the costs related to vaccination. The employer must also provide, at the employer’s expense, an employee with personal protective equipment, special work clothes, and cleaning and washing means if the nature of the work so requires, and arrange training for the employee in the use of personal protective equipment (TTOS § 13 subsection 1 claus 11) etc.

Examples:

  1. The employer has evaluated biological risk factors in the working environment and enacts a requirement that in order to lower the risks, the employees have to do daily rapid tests or present a negative PCR test result. The employer has to reimburse the costs related to testing.
  2. The employer foresees that in order to lower the risks, the employees have to present a certificate proving that they have recovered from COVID-19 or have been vaccinated. It gives a reasonable deadline for presenting the certificate, considering that all adults can go to get vaccinated but there is a six week period between the first and the second dose. After this deadline has passed, the employer does not have to reimburse the costs related to testing anymore.

In practice, there might be a situation where the employer has determined a deadline for vaccination but the employee does not wish to get vaccinated and proposes on his own that he will start presenting the employer with PCR test results every 2-3 days or daily rapid test results. If the employer agrees to this solution, the employee himself will cover the costs related to testing. If the employer does not agree to this solution, the work of the employee is reorganised in a way that contact with people and thus the risk level of the biological risk factor is significantly reduced, or, if this is not possible, the employment contract of the employee is extraordinarily cancelled due to non-suitability of the employee, based on § 88 subsection 1 clause 2 of the Employment Contracts Act, following all the requirements set by law for extraordinary cancellation of an employment contract.

We have to demand vaccination based on the risk analysis and only after that are allowed to ask for the vaccination certificate. Can't we ask for a vaccination certificate without demanding that an employee at work is vaccinated?

The employer conducts a workinhg environment risk analysis, or evaluates the risks, then decides what measures should be enacted to lower the risks and puts together an action plan. Thus, the requirement to get vaccinated and the obligation to present a vaccination certificate have to be based on the working environment risk analysis and the specific action plan.

The only exceptions are trainings, joint events etc. organised by the employer where the requirement can be enacted due to the restrictions set to events and the organisers liability.

In the course of an inspection, does the Labour Inspectorate accept that the employer has not demanded at salespersons who are against vaccination do a corona test or rapid tests, and uses only other measures?

The choice is made by every employer, based on the results of the biological risk factor risk analysis of the working environment. The Labour Inspectorate inspects the evaluation of risks, the measures enacted to lower the risks, and concrete activities organised by the employer mainly as a part of a general inspection, while solving a complaint, or in connection with an investigation into an accident at work or an occupational disease.

The Labour Inspectorate accepts the order as long as there has been no corona outbreak at the particular employer or complaints filed by the employees about the inactivity of the employer.

If it has become clear that an unvaccinated colleague has given a positive test and was in close contact with a vaccinated colleague, why doesn't the requirement to isolate not extend to the vaccinated employee even though she might also be infectious?

The explanation of the Health Board (from the kriis.ee web page): If a person has been vaccinated against VOVID-19 or has recovered from it, does she have to stay in self-isolation?

*Starting from February 2, the people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, or have had the coronavirus within the last 12 months and been declared recovered by a doctor do not have to self-isolate as a close contact or after crossing the border.

*A person who has had the coronavirus or is vaccinated against it must still wear a mask indoors during the next 10 days or cover their nose and mouth if they have been a close contact.

*The obligation to wear a mask does not extend to children under the age of 12 or if wearing a mask is not possible due to health considerations, the nature their work or activities, or for some other substantial reason.

*Additionally, an asymptomatic close contact who has had the coronavirus or is vaccinated against it must monitor their health closely during the next 10 days and follow the measures enacted by the government and the Health Board to stop the spread of the virus.

*Following the measures is necessary as there is still very little scientific information on how probable it is that people who have had the coronavirus or are vaccinated against it can still get infected with or spread COVID-19.

As a result of a working environment risk analysis, an employer may enact stricter measures in its working environment, while explaining their objective to the employees. If these kinds of additional requirements are enacted, there definitely needs to be prior consideration of how to organise the work of the employee who has been sent to self-isolation (even though she is vaccinated). According to § 35 of the Employment Contracts Act, if the employee cannot continue the work from a distance, the employer has the obligation to pay average wages to her.

Is the requirement to get vaccinated justified in a regular office environment?

As the organisation of work is very different in different offices, and the measures enacted by the employer in order to lower the risks may be different as well, no one other than the employer can take this decision. The decisions are preceded by an evaluation of working environment risks in total. More information and recommendations on presenting a risk analysis can be found from the Tööelu.ee web page (in Estonian).

How is it possible to ensure the safety of the employees if, for instance, some people in a ten person office are not vaccinated? Is it justified to take a position that unvaccinated workers will not be allowed to come to work at the office?

The answer depends of the organisation of work at the particular office and the use of other measures aiming to prevent the realisation of risks (including an open office vs everyone having their own work room, contacts between people during the time they spend at the office, changing the start and end times of work in order to disperse the people who are in the room at the same time, the obligation to disperse and keep a distance during breaks etc.). The circumstances must be analysed and have come out in the course of evaluating the biological risk factor of the working environment.

If the organisation of works presumes that people working in an open office are in constant contact with little distances, the employer can, as one of the measures for preventing the spread of the disease, demand vaccination. But if there is a dispute over ending the employment relationship, the employer must be ready to substantiate and explain which other measures for lowering the working environment risks it has considered and why those were considered insufficient. There might also be a necessity to substantiate why the work of the employee or employees could not be reorganised in any other way.

How is the cancellation of an employment contract simplified if there is still an obligation to take relevant measures based on the risk analysis? The problem comes from which measures are justified and which are obligatory?

The amendment of the regulation The "Occupational health and safety requirements at a working environment that is influenced by biological risk factors" (in Estonian) enacts an indicative list of measures that are considered relevant for lowering the SARS-CoV-2 risk for employees who come into contact with many people. This simplifies the choice that an employer must make between the measures aimed at lowering the risk and gives an opportunity to refer to the requirements and possibilities of the legal act. Based on the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer must foresee the measures aimed at lowering the risks in the action plan contained in the risk analysis.

For instance, the action plan could foresee that employees who come into contact with many people must prove that they do not pose an infection risk, be vaccinated, use personal protective equipment, or use other measures. An employer can demand that an employee prove that they do not pose an infection risk if this is necessary in order to stop the spread of the virus and fulfil professional duties safely, according to the working environment risk analysis. The main effective measures in ensuring that there is no infection risk are considered to be support for creating vaccination opportunities, proving one's infection risk status with a certificate of recovery from COVID-19, testing or vaccination, and testing employees. The employer has the right and the opportunity to use these measures in order to mitigate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 but it does not have an obligation to do so.

The employer has to also consider other effective measures in addition to the measures listed, including reorganisation of work, use of personal protective equipment, and following hygiene requirements. The employer ensures that the chosen measures are proportionate and relevant in the specific working environment and considering the nature of the specific employee's work, and that they adequately ensure the lowering of the risks evaluated in the risk analysis.

Has thought been given to a situation where a vaccinated employee later gets COVID?

In order to lower the working environment risks, the employer always has the right to enact measures or conditions stricter than the law/regulation demands, as this is its working environment and the question of maintaining the welfare and health or its employees. That means that in order to lower a risk like that, it might be necessary to enact a requirement to, for instance, wear personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask), due to the results of the working environment risk analysis.

More:

What are the criteria for classifying a position as having a higher infection risk?

The "Occupational health and safety requirements at a working environment that is influenced by biological risk factors" (in Estonian). (BOT) regulation does not regulate which positions have a higher risk level or which measures must certainly be enacted for which positions. An employer has to base its choice of suitable measures on the results of the risk assessment of its working environment. The regulation sets out a list of examples of measures that an employer could consider in the course of the risk analysis for the positions where the employees come into contact with many people and where the risk is thus higher. If it is possible to lower the risks with other (more lenient) measures, that is what must be done and it is not necessary to implement the measures described in § 6 subsection 2 clause 11 of the regulation.

The labour inspector retains the right to re-evaluate the risks and, if necessary, to consult the occupational health doctor to demand an additional evaluation of working environment risks and the implementation of further measures. According to § 3 subsection 4 of the BOT regulation, the things that must be taken into consideration in evaluating an employee's health risk are:

  1. the possible impact of the biological risk factors present in the working environment according to their risk group;
  2. the recommendation of the labour inspector or the occupational health doctor about implementing precautionary measures regarding the biological risk factor, if they find that the employee's health is endangered by that factor due to the nature of her work;
  3. information about the diseases, symptoms of possible allergies or poisoning that the employee might get in that specific position;
  4. information on a work-related illness that has come out in the course of a health check.

An employer has the right to demand a corona test from person working in positions that have a higher infection risk. Does the corona test have to be a PCR or a rapid test?

The regulation does not regulate positions with a higher risk level or obligate the employer to demand vaccination or testing of people working at some specific positions. An employer has to base its choice of suitable measures on the results of the risk assessment of its working environment.

If it is decided that testing is a necessary measure, the choice of the test will be decided by the employer, depending on the frequency of testing and the risk grade of the biological risk factors but a PCR test is organised at a health care service provider.

Rapid antigen tests have been on the market for a year already and their sensitivity and preciseness is very good but not comparable to the gold standard of testing -- the PCR test. It is important to know that the rapid antigen test detects the virus only if the viral load in the organism is very high, which is usually 4-5 days after symptoms occur. A person can be infectious even before symptoms occur and several weeks after symptoms have occurred but the antigen test is not capable of detecting that. You can find a longer explanation of the web page of the Health Board.

The Health Board has also put together instruction materials (pdf, in Estonian) on how to use the rapid tests that are meant for self-testing.

When it comes to rapid tests, it is important that the employer explains and sets conditions of use and rules on how to behave if the result of the rapid test is positive.

In which cases may the employees refuse to get vaccinated for medical reasons? Does there have to be a doctor's decision? Is a family doctor's decision that vaccination is contraindicated enough?

An employment relationship is a relationship of trust and if the employee claims that vaccination is contraindicated to him, the employer has different options, including

  1. to reorganise the work so that the unvaccinated worker would not be at risk himself or a danger to others;
  2. send the employer to the occupational health doctor, as based on § 6 subsection 3 of the BOT regulation, the employer must consult the occupational health doctor about the necessity and suitability of vaccinating employees, i.e. the occupational health doctor can issue the employee a certificate stating that vaccination is contraindicated, and also give recommendations on reorganising work.

"Occupational health and safety requirements at a working environment that is influenced by biological risk factors" (in Estonian).

What happens if half the employees of a care home refuse to get vaccinated and it is not possible to reorganise work in a way that they would not have any contact with the clients?

The first thing is to think through whether vaccination and/or periodical testing are the only possible measures or if there are other solutions that would safeguard the health of customers and other employees.

From the employees' point of view it is important that the exchange of information is continuous and open, explanations to why something is being done, what the long term objective is, and what the possible consequences of one choice or another are. Including the employees helps to find the most suitable solutions.

Is the new clause 11 of § 6 subsection 2 of the biological risk factor regulation the only measure to be implemented in the case of the SARS-CoV-2 spread or are all ten of the earlier clauses valid as well?

Before the new clause 11 of § 6 subsection 2 of the "Occupational health and safety requirements at a working environment that is influenced by biological risk factors" regulation (henceforth BOT), the tenth clause describes the obligation to implement collective protection measures or personal protective equipment if it is not possible to avoid contact with the biological risk factor in any other way. Thus, the employer has the option to decide, considering the probability of the risk coming true, by choosing a measure or measures to implement, i.e. to make a choice between the measures listed in the regulation. There is no obligation to implement the measures brought out in clause 11 if it is possible to lower the risks with some other more suitable measure. § 6 subsection 4 of the BOT regulation, according to which

  • (4) If it is not possible to make the working environment safe by implementing the listed measures, the employees need to be given personal protective equipment and the order of its use needs to be determined.*

is still valid.

Can an employer issue a warning to an employee if the employee is in the vaccination list but refuses to get vaccinated without a good reason and does not show up?

The vaccination list named is actually the vaccination plan and determination of risk groups that are being vaccinated first.

If one of the possible measures for lowering working environment risks is vaccination, and an employee refuses it, the employer has to enact other measures to lower the risks, if possible, and reorganise the work if necessary. If the parties reach an agreement on reorganising the work, it is possible to amend the conditions of the employment contract (e.g. changing the work tasks) only with an agreement between the parties based on § 12 of the Employment Contracts Act.

If the employer cannot reasonably reorganise the work or enact other measures to effectively lower the risks, the employer might have the right to issue a warning to the employee in substantiated cases and explain possible consequences. If a warning is issued, it is important that the employee understands what the employer is doing or might do about them in the future and why. If the employee still refuses to get vaccinated, the employer does have the right to extraordinarily cancel the employment contract in substantiated cases, due to non-suitability of the worker based on § 88 subsection 1 clause 2 of the Employment Contracts Act or even due to a breach of their duties based on § 88 subsection 1 clause 3 of the Employment Contracts Act.

After 2-3 warnings that the employee has to get vaccinated or the employment relationship will be terminated, does the employer have the right to extraordinarily cancel the employment contract for breach of duties, as a care home is responsible for the

health of its client?

It all begins with the results of the working environment risk analysis and the measures that the employer enacts, i.e. whether the employer has foreseen measures alternative to getting vaccinated to stop the spread of the coronavirus and what kind of measures these are. That is, the employer has to evaluate whether it would be possible to take up other measures. Cancelling the employment contract should be the very last option if no other alternatives remain.

If an employee has been warned repeatedly but his attitude towards following the requirements does not change, the consequence is that the employment contract is extraordinarily cancelled, either due to non-suitability of the worker based on § 88 subsection 1 clause 2 of the Employment Contracts Act or due to breaching of their duties based on § 88 subsection 1 clause 3 of the Employment Contracts Act.

Does the employee also have personal liability if she refuses to get vaccinated or do a test but is continuing to deal with risk group clients?

Everything begins with the results of the working environment risk analysis and the measures that the employer enacts, i.e. whether the employer has foreseen any alternative possibilities, in addition to vaccination, to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and what these possibilities are. In a situation where an employee refuses to get vaccinated but the employer has foreseen other effective measures to lower the risks, e.g. a mask with a respirator, a protective suit etc, i.e. has already done all that they can to protect the health of the employee and other persons, the liability might not lie with the employer. If the employee disregards the measures enacted by the employer and, for instance, gets infected with the virus, the liability lies with the employee.

According to § 15 subsection 2 of the Employment Contracts Act, the employee is obligated to refrain from actions which hinder other employees from fulfilling their obligations or endanger the life, health or property of the employee or other persons. Additionally, according to § 14 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employee has an obligation to contribute to the creation of a safe working environment by observing the occupational health and safety requirements.

Taken together, these obligations mean that an employee is not allowed to put the clients of their employer in danger with their carelessness, and in a situation like that the representative of the employer has both the right and the obligation to check the employee, reprimand them, and initially react to the employee's infractions with a warning which may lead to an extraordinary cancellation of their employment contract, based on § 88 subsection 1 clause 3 or the following of the Employment Contracts Act due to the employee breaching their duties.

Does an employee have the right to refuse to get vaccinated?

An employer cannot obligate an employee to get vaccinated, i.e. the employee has the right to refuse to get vaccinated. Vaccination may be substantiated if the results of a risk analysis show that vaccination is particularly important in certain sectors or professions (e.g. health care, care homes) and other measures are not sufficiently effective in order to protect the health of employees or clients/patients.

Based on the action plan of the risk analysis of the working environment, an employer might provide for the possibility for all employees to get vaccinated but that does not mean that an employee is forced to get vaccinated. An employee can't and is not allowed to be made to get vaccinated by force, as that would run counter to the principle of a person's physical integrity and would be a clear violation of human rights.

An employee must be aware of everything that has to do with working environment health risks, precautions for avoiding the effects of biological risk factors, hygiene requirements, the use of personal protective equipment, avoidance of risk situations, and actions to be taken in case of an accident. This means that after a risk analysis is conducted or updated and new measures are taken up, the employees also have to be informed of them. If the employees do not know why some new measures have been taken up or why the employer has enacted new rules, it creates misunderstandings. Thus it is important that the employer explains why vaccination is important and what the next actions are if an employee does not wish to get vaccinated.

According to § 6 subsection 2 clause 11 of the May 5, 2000 regulation no 144 of the Government of the Republic, "Occupational health and safety requirements at a working environment that is influenced by biological risk factors" (henceforth Regulation), during the spread of SARS-CoV-2, in cases where it is not possible to remove the risk with measures listed in § 5 of the same regulation, one of the main options the employer has to guarantee that people who come into contact with each other in the working environment do not pose an infection risk, is to ensure that the employees are able to get vaccinated against COVID-19, that certificates proving the employees' infection risk status are checked or the employees are tested with a SARS-CoV-2 test.

Is the director of a care home etc liable if she allows an employee who has refused vaccination to work with risk group clients?

It is the responsibility of the director to make sure that the work is safe both for the employees and the customers, i.e. she has to do everything possible to ensure safety -- carry out a risk analysis of the working environment and as a result of that take the best possible measures in order to stop the spread of the virus.

If a meeting takes place at the office of a company or agency there is no obligation to present a COVID certificate but if the same meeting takes place as a working lunch at a restaurant or a hotel, the certificate must be presented?

Yes.

Is the employer required to reorganise the work if the new vaccine is contraindicated to the employee due to a possibility of an allergic reaction?

In the action plan devised based on the results of the risk analysis of the working environment, the employer has the obligation to foresee different prevention measures in order to lower the risks. In situations where it is not possible to lower the risks in any other way but it is also not possible to vaccinate the employee, the employer has to think about the options of reorganising the work in order to still give the employee the opportunity to continue the employment relationship.

A vaccination requirement enacted by the employer might come unexpected to a longtime employee and thus it is very important that the employer explain the objective of the measures and give the employee a chance to think about and offer solutions of their own before issuing a warning to them or extraordinarily cancelling their employment contract.

Thus the employer needs to think whether it is possible for them to offer the employee work with tasks where the risk for the employee and other people is lower. If there is no such possibility, then, in substantiated cases, this may constitute non-suitability for the position or inadaptability which does not allow for the continuance of the employment relationship as prescribed in § 88 subsection 1 point 2 of the Employment Contracts Act, i.e. the employer has the possibility of extraordinarily cancelling the employment contract.

Before cancelling the employment relationship it must be considered that § 88 subsection 2 of the Employment Contracts Act provides the precondition that before the employment contract is cancelled, particularly on the basis described in subsection 1 point 2 of the given section, the employer shall offer other work to the employee, where possible. The employer shall offer other work to the employee, including organise, if necessary, the employee's in-service training, adapt the workplace or change the employee’s working conditions if the changes do not cause disproportionately high costs for the employer and the offering of other work may, considering the circumstances, be reasonably expected.

Subsection 3 of the same section enacts an obligation to give prior warning to the employee as well, giving the employee an opportunity to once again consider getting vaccinated before a concrete deadline and only if it is clear, once and for all, that the employee does not wish to get vaccinated are they presented with a declaration of cancellation on the basis of § 88 subsection 1 point 2 of the Employment Contracts Act. At that, the employer must consider all circumstances, including evaluating the risk of infection in changed conditions (for instance, the spread of the coronavirus going down).

Ending an employment relationship based on § 88 subsection 1 point 2 of the Employment Contracts Act gives the employee who has the required insurance period the right to apply for unemployment insurance benefits once they become unemployed and register themselves at the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

If, based on the evaluation of working environment risks, the employees have to get vaccinated or test themselves in order to limit the spread of the virus, who pays for the test, the employee or the employer?

If, based on the evaluation of risks in the working environment, a requirement will be enacted according to which, in order to lower the risks, the employees have to do daily rapid tests or present a negative PCR test result, the employer has to compensate the costs realted to the testing.

If, however, the employees have to present a certificate about recovery from COVID-19 or vaccination in order to lower the risks, a reasonable deadline for presenting the certificate must be given. Right now, all adults may go to get vaccinated but there are six weeks between the first and the second dose. After this deadline has passed, the employer does not have to compensate the testing costs anymore.

In practice, there might be a situation where the employer has given a deadline for vaccination but the employee does not wish to get vaccinated and thus proposes to the employer that he will start presenting the employer with PCR test results every 2-3 days or daily rapid test results. If the employer does not agree to this kind of a solution, the employee's work is reorganised in a way that contact with people and thus the risk level of a biological risk factor is significantly reduced or, if this is not possible, the employment contract can be cancelled extraordinarily due to the noncompliance of the employee, based on § 88 subsection 1 point 2 of the Employment Contracts Act, while following all the legal requirements pertaining to extraordinary cancellation of an employment contract.

Is an employer allowed to demand for a vaccination certificate from an employee?

An employer may ask for a vaccination certificate from an employee if vaccination is necessary in that position, based on the risk analysis of the work environment. If the employee refuses to present the certificate or to get vaccinated, the employer has to take up other measures to lower the risks, e.g. masks, or reorganise the work. If it is not possible for the employer to reorganise the work, the employer can, in substantiated cases, extraordinarily cancel the employment contract.

More information at www.tooelu.ee (in Estonian).

Is the employer allowed to close the break room?

The employer has to evaluate who big the infection risk is in the company and for people performing different tasks.

The main measures for reducing the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus are keeping a distance, wearing masks, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces if necessary, ensuring the possibility to wash hands, and ensuring disinfecting opporunities is places where hands cannot be washed.

However, in order to ensure safety, the use of recreational spaces needs to be reorganised. It should be analysed how many people fits into the dining space in a way that keeping a distance is possible. It should also be established who disinfects surfaces. In a place where people remove their masks, there must be a possibility to wash and dry (or disinfect) hands, and also a trash can with a foot-operated lid for disposing of the used mask. After eating, a new mask must be worn.

An employer does not have the right to forbid the use of the break room; rather, it is the task of the employer to figure out how to use the room safely.

Where is it allowed to do distance work and how can a location of distance working be changed?

An employee and an employer can agree on a particular location of doing distance work (e.g. the employee's home) or doing distance work in general (e.g. no particular location has been determined).

If there is an agreement that distance work is done in a particular location (e.g. the apartment of the employee), then if the employee wants to change this (e.g. do distance work in her summerhouse), the location of doing distance work must be amended. The amendment can be made only by mutual agreement, i.e. the employer also has a right to reject the amendment.

The employer is responsible for the work environment of the employee, and that also applies to distance work. Thus, in this case, the employer has a legitimate interest to know where and in what kind of an environment the employee is performing her work tasks.

As the employee also has an obligation to participate in the creation of a safe work environment, the employer should be notified of the wish to change the location of distance work as early as possible, and assisted in being able to evaluate the work environment at the summerhouse. If the employer finds that the work environment of the summerhouse is not suitable for doing distance work, the employer needs to be notified whether the employee is willing to make the necessary adjustments for it to become suitable (e.g. acquire a work chair, a desk lamp). It is also possible to negotiate with the employer on whether the employer would, for instance, allow for a temporary relocation of the work chair or computer monitor issued for setting up a distance work station (i.e. from an apartment to the summerhouse). If, however, the parties do not come to an agreement about making the necessary adjustments, the employer is allowed to reject the change of the distance work location.

In conclusion, as distance working can only take place with a mutual agreement, all changes regarding distance work need to be separately agreed upon by the parties.

What do the employee and the employer need to agree upon for distance working?

Distance work can be done only upon an agreement between the parties.

The parties have to have a written agreement about doing distance work. For instance, the agreement should contain the following conditions:

  • How work tasks are given and their fulfilment checked, and how is the interaction with the employer and colleagues organised?
  • What is the working time of the distance worker managed? Can the employer monitor that the employee adheres to the working time, and how?
  • Are the times when the employee should be present at the premises of the employer?
  • Does the employee have to notify the employer of starting distance work, and when?
  • What adjustments are necessary for the employees work station?
  • How is the installation and maintenance of the work equipment (e.g. a computer, a printer) organised? How is work equipment returned if the working relationship terminates?
  • Does the employee need to follow data protection and other security requirements while doing distance work, and which ones?
  • How does the employee ensure that the property of the employer is not damaged?
  • Does the employer reimburse the costs related to doing distance work, and to what extent?
  • Does the employer have the possibility to enter the location of doing distance work, and in what cases?
  • On what conditions can the employee and the employer stop the distance working?

During the current period of restrictions, is the employer allowed to unilaterally change the schedules of sales persons who work at the store on the basis of total working time?

Generally, the schedule that has already been approved can only be changed with an agreement between the parties but due to the unexpected restrictions enacted to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the employer can unilaterally change the schedule and give other orders if these are arising from an emergency.

An emergency is presumed in case of possible damage or a threat of such damage to the employer’s property or other amenity caused, above all, by force majeure. In determining whether the situation constitutes an emergency, the employee's interests and rights as well as the principle of good faith and reasonable expectations must be taken into account, i.e. the consequences arising from an emergency need to be weighed against the employee's rights that are external to the employment relationship.

If the employer does not reorganise work, he has to pay average wages to the employees who are scheduled to be working on the weekend and are not given work. Thus the restrictions allow the employer to use emergency as the basis for his orders.

The employer may also unilaterally change the organisation of working time, provided the changes arise from the needs of the employer’s enterprise and are reasonable, considering mutual interests. The goal of the working time organisation is to determine the period of working, primarily the beginning and end of the working time and the breaks during the working day.

Thus, due to the restrictions, it is possible to unilaterally change the schedule, or the beginning and end times of work, if these changes arise from an emergency or the needs of the enterprise. The employer must substantiate to the employee why the schedule needs to be changed due to the restrictions and what the emergency in the current case is. It is not allowed to act in contradiction to the principle of good faith and the interests of the other party in an employment relationship. For instance, if an employee does not agree to the changes in the work schedule due to the need to fulfil important family duties, the employer must take this into account.

What to do if an employee falls ill?

  • If an employee falls ill outside of work, they must stay at home.
  • If an employee falls ill at work, they must leave immediately.
  • A person who has fallen ill should contact their family doctor, who will decide on the diagnosis of COVID-19, the need for testing and the certificate of incapacity for work.
  • In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is important that the affected employee informs the employer that the diagnosis of COVID-19 has been confirmed. The employer is informed in accordance with the agreement between the employee and the employer.
  • The employer, being informed of the employee's diagnosis of COVID-19, co-operates with the regional department of the Health Board in order to determine the employee's close contacts at work and provide guidelines for further work organisation.
  • Premises potentially contaminated with the virus must be closed and not used before being properly cleaned, disinfected and aired.
  • When cleaning rooms and surfaces, the recommendations of the Health Board for cleaning and disinfection (PDF) (in Estonian) must be followed.
  • If the diagnosis of COVID-19 is confirmed, people who were in close contact with the affected employee during the symptomatic period or up to two days before must be identified at the workplace.

Close contacts are determined by the regional department of the Health Board in co-operation with the employer.

  • Persons who have been in close contact with the infected person must closely monitor their health and stay in isolation for the next 10 days. Close contacts who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 180 days do not have to stay in self-isolation.
  • The rest of the employees can continue their daily work but should monitor their health more closely.
  • If the diagnosis of COVID-19 of an infected employee is not confirmed, other employees may continue to work, but must monitor their health for 10 days.

To prevent the spread of disease it has been recommended to also air office spaces. How to clean the air when the office has general ventilation and the windows cannot be opened?

If it is not possible to air the rooms, surfaces should be regularly cleaned with disinfectant. The corona virus does not spread through the ventilation system but mainly by a close contact with a person suspected to be infected who has symptoms characteristic to the disease, mainly a cough.

The precondition to the spread of the virus is close contact with the bodily fluids (blood, excrements, urine, spit, sperm) of an infected person. When a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks, droplets containing the virus end up in the air. These virus droplets are quite heavy and therefore do not travel very far in the air. According to what we have learned thus far they can travel 2 meters at the maximum. Because of their heaviness it is also not probable that air flow would make the droplets travel further from surfaces.

The life span of virus droplets on surfaces depends on the air temperature and average humidity of the surrounding environment. At room temperature, or 22-25 degrees and 40% relative humidity, the virus survives up to 4 or 5 days. The higher the temperature and relative humidity, the faster the virus is destroyed.

An effective way to destroy the corona virus from surfaces is using different biocides or antimicrobial solutions. One of the most common ones is ethanol. A solution containing 70% ethanol is adequate for cleaning surfaces of COVID-19 contamination.

Who has the right to go on sick leave?

Doctors can issue the sick note (confirmation of incapacity to work) to people who have medical insurance through their employer. The doctor decides whether or not to issue such a certificate based on the state of the person’s health.

Based on the sick note the employer and the Health Insurance Fund will pay compensation for incapacity to work, aimed at partial compensation for loss of earnings while the person is sick.

The doctor fills in the electronic sick note specifying the period how long the person will be on sick leave, and sends it electronically to the Health Insurance Fund. The data sent by the doctor and information on compensation paid out can be found under the personal sickness compensation service in the state portal www.eesti.ee.

For more see: https://www.haigekassa.ee/en/people/benefits/benefits-incapacity-work

At what rate and for which days of sick leave will an employee be compensated? What kinds of benefits are available for care leave?

Sickness benefit:

In order to reduce the risk of people going to work when sick and the personal liability of employees, and thus limit the spread of COVID-19 disease, the procedure for compensating the sick leaves will chage until the end of 2021.

The employee co-pay covers the first day of illness, the employer covers the compensation from the second to the fifth day, and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pays the compensation from the sixth day onwards.

The new procedure is valid for initial incapacity to work certificates. The procedure for the compensation for care leave certificates does not change.

  • No compensation is paid for the first day of sick leave.

  • For sickness days 2 to 5, compensation will be paid by the employer based on average salary.

  • From day 6, the sickness compensation will be paid by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund on the basis of the daily income of the employee. The calculation is based on the data on social tax calculated or paid in the calendar year preceding the date of the beginning of the sick leave, which is obtained from the Tax and Customs Board.

  • The information on which the calculation is based can be accessed from the state portal eesti.ee after the compensation has been received.

Read more about the sickness benefit (in Estonian).

Care allowance:

On the basis of the certificate for care leave, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pays care allowance for the first

  • 14 sickness days to a parent whose child under the age of 12 or disabled child under the age of 19 is sick;
  • 7 sickness days to the carer of other family members.

The allowance is 80% of the average wage of the person who has been issued the certificate for care leave. Income tax is withheld from the benefit.

Different rules for paying care allowance apply in the case of severe illness such as tumours.

Read more about care allowance.

More information can be received from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund telephone (+372) 669 6630.

During the emergency situation, people were given the opportunity to apply for incapacity to work certificate on medical grounds or for care leave via the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee website. After the emergency situation was ended on May 18, the medical leave certificate can be only issued by the doctor, so if you are sick or are caring for a sick family member, you must contact your family doctor in order to obtain the sick leave or care leave.

Is it possible and under what conditions can an employer fire an employee (eg in a catering establishment) who refuses to be vaccinated?

Vaccination is voluntary in Estonia. Enabling vaccination in the workplace is one of the possible measures taken by the employer to ensure the safety of the working environment and the protection of the employees´ health, but vaccination cannot be the only way to prevent getting infected with biological risk factors.

If an employee refuses to get vaccinated, the employer can:

  • anticipate and take other measures that can mitigate the risks - for example, additional personal protective equipment, collective protective equipment, etc. The employer therefore has a responsibility primarily to assess whether, for example, the health of the customer service provider and customers can be protected by other measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask, disinfecting hands, using a plexiglass, reducing direct contacts, more frequent surface cleaning and other measures.

  • if necessary, reorganise the work for the specific section of the work or for specific employees. If the parties reach an agreement on the reorganisation of work, the terms of the employment contract (for example, change of duties) can only be changed by agreement of both parties on the basis of § 12 of the Employment Contracts Act.

If the results of the risk assessment of the work environment show that vaccination is particularly important in certain sectors or activities (e.g. health care, nursing homes) and that other measures are not effective enough to protect the health of the employees or clients and patients, then vaccination may be justified.

Vaccination alone may not be helpful in ensuring employee safety, and risk mitigation measures often need to be applied simultaneously.

Can an employer request an employee's health data (incl. vaccination) and under what conditions?

The employee is generally not obliged to share their health data with the employer, including information about vaccination.

The employer has the right to ask the employee for confirmation that the employee's state of health does not hinder the performance of work duties and does not pose a danger to other employees or customers.

In particular, the employer has the right to ask about the employee's vaccination in justified cases, if the results of the risk assessment of the work environment show that vaccination is one of the possible measures to prevent infection in the given position and to perform work tasks safely in the future.

Although the employer has the right to ask about vaccination in certain cases, the employee has the right to refuse to share the relevant information with the employer.

In a situation where the employer, based on the results of the risk assessment of the work environment, asks the employee for information about their vaccination status or offers vaccination to the employee, but the employee refuses to provide information related to vaccination or refuses to get vaccinated, the employer can:

  • anticipate and take other measures that can mitigate the risks - for example, additional personal protective equipment, collective protective equipment, etc.

  • if necessary, reorganise the work or the part of the task performed by the employee. If the parties reach an agreement on the reorganisation of work, the terms of the employment contract (for example, change of duties) can only be changed by agreement of the parties on the basis of § 12 of the Employment Contracts Act.

If the employer is not reasonably able to reorganise the work or take other measures to effectively mitigate the risks, the employer may have the right to terminate the employment relationship with the employee pursuant to § 88 (1) 2) of the Employment Contracts Act due to unsuitability to perform the tasks.

If a company has more than 30 employees, it is possible for an employer to make a query to the Health Board about vaccine coverage in its company. An application for that needs to be sent to vaktsineerimine[at]haigekassa[dot]ee. In order to protect personal information, the Health Board only gives out information in a limited form and one of three possible options are forwarded as a reply: 1) less than 50%, 2) the exact percentage if the vaccination coverage is in the range of 50-80%, 3) more than 80%.

Can an employee demand the possibility to work from the office if it is not possible to do distance work due to circumstances beyond the employee's control (e.g. construction work is taking place next door and the noise is too bothering)?

Distance work is a condition in the employment contract. If it has been agreed upon once, it can be amended with a new agreement. The employee must immediately notify the employer of an impediment to work or of a threat thereof and, if possible, eliminates such an impediment or threat without a special instruction (Employment Contracts Act § 15(2)7).

If the employee cannot eliminate the impediment on their own, they must find solutions to still keep working in cooperation with the employer -- whether the employer could still enable them to work from the office during the construction works, or maybe the working hours can be changed so that the work could take place before and after the active construction period of the neighbour. All these kinds of agreements are possible and allowed in employment relations but presume negotiations and certainly a solution oriented approach from both sides.

There is an analogy to a situation where the employee is working from the employer's office but construction works start there and because of the noise, the work cannot continue at the office as it would damage the health of the employee. In this case, the solution is usually finding another working space, temporarily moving office, or the employee will be assigned to distance work, with their consent. Now, however, new risks have occurred in the employee's home working environment, the solutions to which must be found in cooperation with the employer.

Is the employer allowed to obligate an employee to get vaccinated?

Making it possible to get vaccinated is one of the possible measures with which an employer can ensure the safety of the working environment and the health of employees. The measures for reducing the risks in the working environment can only be determined by first mapping what is the risk and how big is the probability that it will come true. Thus, in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the employer has to review its risk analysis of the working environment, amend it if necessary, and prepare an appropriate action plan based on a risk analysis that reflects the reality.

Based on the risk analysis of the working environment, the employer may start requiring that an employee who comes into contact with many people prove that they do not pose an infection risk, or that other measures that lower the infection risk be taken up, e.g. using personal protective equipment. Infection risk status can be proven with the certificate of recovery from COVID-19, testing certificate or vaccination certificate.

It is important that the employee knows what the consequences are if they refuse to get vaccinated -- i.e. does the employer have to reorganise this employee's work, ensure further personal or general protective equipment, or is there also a danger that in substantiated cases their employment contract is cancelled extraordinarily if it is not possible for the employer to reasonably reorganise the work and take up other measures to effectively lower the risk, and the risk for spreading the virus is big, endangering the patients or clients of the employer.

If the employee refuses vaccination and the employer estimates that the other possibilities for reducing the risks are not adequate either, the employee must be explained the consequences, get a prior warning (preferably at least in a form that can be reproduced in writing) and, if there are no other options, the employment contract can be cancelled extraordinarily based on § 88 subsection 1 point 2 of the Employment Contracts Act.

More information, recommendations and instructions about presenting the risk analysis can be found on the Tööelu.ee web page (in Estonian).

Can the employer oblige the employees to stay home without a pay (furlough, unpaid leave)?

Compulsory leave is not provided for in the Employment Contract Act, but the employer and the employee can agree that the employee is staying at home, for example, for two weeks. If the employee does not work because the employer does not provide them with tasks, then employer must pay the average salary for that period.

The parties must come to an agreement regarding unpaid leave. If an agreement is reached, the employee may use unpaid leave. If the employee does not agree to unpaid leave, but the employer does not allow the employee to work, Art 35 of the Employment Contract Act applies.

The employer and the employee can also agree to change the terms of the employment contract. For example, the parties may agree that while the employee is at home and does not work, they will get paid less than agreed in the employment contract. However, the employer cannot do this unilaterally, only with the consent of the employee.

Can an employer ask their employees whether they have been infected with COVID-19 (when was it diagnosed, and how the employee got infected)?

The employer is generally not entitled to know the health data of the employee, including the COVID-19 diagnosis, when the employee received the diagnosis and other information related to the infection (e.g. the source of the infection).

The employer has the right to ask the employee whether they have been exposed to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 infection. The employer is also entitled to ask the employee's confirmation that the employee´s health condition does not hinder the performance of their tasks and is not a threat to other employees or customers.

The employer has the right to ask the employee who has gone home with/taken a certificate for sick leave with COVID-19 symptoms whether they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a doctor.

Therefore, information on COVID-19 diagnosis can be provided on the basis of an agreement between the employee and the employer.

At the same time, it is important to note that the employer has no right to conduct a comprehensive survey among the employees regarding their health status.

Based on the risk analysis of the working environment, the employer may start requiring that an employee who comes into contact with many people prove that they do not pose an infection risk, or that other measures that lower the infection risk be taken up, e.g. using personal protective equipment. Infection risk status can be proven with the certificate of recovery from COVID-19, testing certificate or vaccination certificate.

If an employee is made redundant, will the reduced wages according to Art. 37 of the Employment Contract Act be calculated as part of the redundancy pay and holiday allowance?

The redundancy payment is calculated on the basis of the employee's salary over the previous six months period. If during this time period the employee has received reduced wages under Art 37 of the Employment Contract Act, then this reduction is disregarded when calculating the redundancy payment for the given time period, e.g. the payment will not be reduced. For example, if the employee is made redundant in September, the salaries of March, April, May, June, July, and August will be taken into account when calculating the redundancy payment. The employee's salary was reduced in April and May under Art. 37 of the Employment Contract Act. As these reduced payments are not included in the calculation of the payment, the calculation is made based on the wages received for March, June, July, and August.

At the same time the reduced wages are factored in when calculating the holiday allowance, therefore the holiday allowance will be reduced.

If a worker gets infected with COVID-19 at the workplace, does that qualify as an accident at work or is it a regular illness?

An accident at work is the health damage or death of an employee that occurred while carrying out a work task given by the employer, or while performing other work with his permission, while on a break that is counted as part of working time, or during other activities performed in the interests of the employer. Health damage or death that happened in the listed cases but are not in a causal relationship with the employees work or working environment are not considered to be accidents at work (§ 22 subsection 1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act). An accident at work is rather a so-called sudden damage to health, e.g. as a result of a fall, or a poisoning that has occurred as a result of inhaling chemicals.

Diseases related to work are divided in two -- a disease caused by work and an occupational disease. An occupational disease is a disease that was caused by a working environment risk factor or nature of work listed in the list of occupational diseases. A disease caused by work is a disease caused by a working environment risk factor that is not considered to be an occupational disease.

In the case of catching the coronavirus, it might be an occupational disease according to the §3 subsection 7 of the May 9, 2005 regulation no 66 of the Minister of Social Affairs, according to which occupational infectious diseases and occupational parasitic diseases are also other infectious and parasitic diseases that are caused by the working environment biological risk factors. Here, the coronavirus would classify as other occupational infectious disease.

If you suspect that you got sick due to your work, i.e. you got sick at work, while fulfilling work duties, let the doctor know. A family doctor or another doctor who suspects that an employee might have an occupational disease refers the person to an occupational health doctor for diagnosing an occupational disease. The occupational health doctor determines the employee's health condition and gathers information on the working conditions and nature of the employee's work. A decision on whether a disease is caused by work or not is taken by the occupational health doctor.

May the employer notify workers and clients if a worker or workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19?

An employer must notify its staff of COVID-19 cases and protective measures (how clients and workers are protected at the company). An employer must limit these notifications to only the necessary information.

It is not allowed to reveal the name of the infected person to other workers and clients without cause. The name of the infected person may be revealed only if it is necessary to prevent further infections (for instance, to notify colleagues who worked in close contact with the infected person). The infected person must be notified that information on his disease is also being shared with other workers. An employer must give only a minimum amount of necessary information on the person and take the human dignity of the infected worker into account.

Under what conditions may an employer require their employees to use personal protective equipment?

The employer carries out a risk analysis which will show what dangers there are in the work environment. This includes biological dangers, and among them is the possibility of infection with the coronavirus. After that, they can decide what measures should be taken to avoid or reduce related risks.

Personal protective equipment must be used if the risk analysis shows that the danger of infection cannot be avoided or reduced only by shared means of protection such as protective glass to stop the spread of the virus, or through organisational measures such as maintaining distance and making disinfectant available.

The employer has the obligation to inform their employees of any possible points of danger identified during the risk analysis such as the risk of infection in particular companies or during particular work tasks, and what measures are being taken.

The employer must explain why it is necessary to use personal protective equipment and to require its use. When this is explained to the employees it is important that they understand why this requirement has been introduced. If the reasons for the requirement are not explained to the employees, there may be more opposition to complying with it.

If the employee does not comply with the construction, the employer may issue a warning that they may be dismissed if they do not follow the rules. If the employee does not abide by the rules even after the warning, the employer has the right to terminate their employment.

What should the employer take into account regarding the work environment?

Various precautions to prevent the spread of the virus continue to be important:

  • preference for remote work,
  • reducing the physical exposure of employees,
  • airing and proper cleaning of rooms,
  • the employees must stay at home when sick.

When working in the work environment you should bear in mind the following:

  • when you are sick, stay home! Ask sick employees to stay home!
  • before allowing people to return to work, find out how employees can be exposed to the virus in the work environment and take action to mitigate risks.
  • consider how to protect the employees belonging to risk groups.
  • If necessary, consult with the Labour Inspectorate's work environment consultant or occupational health doctor on how to make the working environment safer.
  • discuss planned changes with the employees in the work environment and, if necessary, instruct them before returning to work.
  • re-arrange the work environment so that working places would be separated from each other, and the least possible number of employees would be in the same room.
  • Resume work gradually, if possible, prefer remote working, and holding meetings online.
  • Disperse break times so that there are not many employees gathering in the break rooms at the same time.
  • pay attention to hygiene rules, hand washing and the availability of disinfectants at entrances and exits, near movement routes and near meeting and recreation rooms.
  • arrange work in such a way that the same tools and work surfaces are used by only one employee and assure regular cleaning.
  • clean and air both working and resting spaces, assure proper ventilation or airing of premises.
  • if necessary, issue personal protective equipment to employees and instruct how to use them.

Can I refuse to go to work?

An employee with a contract of employment has an obligation to work according to the agreed terms.

If the employee feels that they cannot go to work, then the employee has to make an arrangement with the employer. The employee and the employer have various options for coming to an arrangement, including:

  • distance working (working from home),
  • unpaid leave,
  • application of § 35 and § 37 of the Employment Act,
  • use of mandated annual leave. If an annual leave schedule has been pre-arranged, changes in annual leave times can only be made by mutual agreement. If the employee does not wish to use the employee’s mandated annual leave, another solution must be found.

Please also refer to the Employment Contracts Act: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/529122020003/consolide

However, if the employee is returning from a country with a higher risk for COVID-19, the 10-day period of self-isolation or the restrictions on freedom of movement apply (information on risk countries is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The 10-day self-isolation requirement does not automatically mean that the employee does not have to go to work. The employee must inform the employer of their return from a foreign country and make an arrangement on how they can fulfil their obligations; for example, as by distance working from home or arranging to use some of the points mentioned above (e.g. use of unpaid leave or mandated annual leave etc.).

The employer must assess the possible risk of the spread of the disease among the staff. When giving permission to work, both the employer and the employee must take all measures to prevent possible spread of the virus and infecting the staff, including, for example, minimizing contact with other persons if possible or using personal protective equipment.

When returning from a risk country, it is possible to reduce the period of restrictions on freedom of movement by taking two SARS-CoV-2 tests upon returning to Estonia – the first test immediately on arrival and the second test no earlier than on the sixth day after the results of the first test have come in. The results of both tests must be negative, after which it is possible to return to regular life.

The employee must not go to work if they have been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19 - in this case they must remain in quarantine for 10 days. If the employee needs to quarantine, they can take a sick leave if you were the person who had contact with an infected person, or care leave if the person who has been in contact with an infected person was your child. The requirements to close contacts can be found on the website of the Health Board.

The employer must bear in mind that also in these cases, the rights and obligations of the employer resulting from the Law on Health and Safety at Work still apply, including the obligation to ensure safety at work and to carry out a health checks.

Can I refuse a secondment or a business trip abroad?

The employer is obligated to assess work-related risks when he sends an employee to a work-related trip abroad. Therefore, it is primarily the obligation of the employer to assess the risks and take the decision on whether it is possible to avoid sending the employee on a business trip.

The employee has the right to refuse or suspend work when fulfilling the tasks if it

  • endangers their own health or that of other persons', or
  • would not allow to follow environmental safety regulations,

by immediately notifying the employer or their representative and occupational health and safety representative.

Thus, if you find that you would be endangering your life or health by going to a work-related trip abroad, you do have the right to refuse to go.

If the employee is sent on a business trip, the employer must ensure that the employee has the necessary personal protective equipment (e.g. mask, disinfectants, etc.) for their trip. This is particularly important in countries where wearing a mask is mandatory.

See more in §14(5) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/520032019007/consolide

How and when can the wages be reduced or three months due to economic circumstances beyond the employer’s control?

The spread of the coronavirus was one of those unforeseen circumstances that allowed the employer to unilaterally reduce the workload and the wages of an employee for three months over a twelve-month period, if paying the agreed wages was an unreasonably heavy burden for the employer. If the employer has already reduced an employee's wages for three months, then further unilateral reduction is not allowed.

The period during which the wages can be reduced is not a calendar year but 12 months. An example: the wages were reduced in the period between April 15, 2020 and July 15, 2020. This means that the 12-month period started on April 15, 2020 and the employer can reduce the wages again no sooner than April 16, 2021.

This has been stipulated under §37 of the Employment Contracts Act.

It is permitted to reduce the wages to the minimum wage as determined by the Government of Estonia (584 Euros per month or 3.48 Euros per hour) but only under the following conditions:

  • If the employer is unable to provide work to the employee as previously agreed due to economic circumstances (this does not include seasonal changes in the amount of work);

  • If payment of the agreed wages is an unreasonable burden on the employer. It is not permitted to reduce the wages if the employer does not have enough work for the employee to do, but still has enough funds to pay the wages and thus has no real need to reduce the wages.

The employer must be able to substantiate what circumstance was unforeseen and out of their control for them, and the reason why they cannot pay the employee the agreed wages.

Please find additional information from the Employment Contracts Act: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/529122020003/consolide.

Where can I register as unemployed and apply for an unemployment insurance allowance or an unemployment benefit?

If you wish to register as unemployed and apply for an unemployment insurance allowance or for an unemployment benefit, we recommend submitting your application using our online services https://www.tootukassa.ee/. Applications will be accepted via e-mail (digitally signed), regular post, or telephone, and in the offices.

Applications for work ability assessment and work capability allowance can also be submitted at the website, e-mail (digitally signed), regular post, or in the offices of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. If necessary, the Unemployment Insurance Fund will forward the application documentation by post.

Please note! If you submit your application by e-mail, sign it digitally.

For further information:

 

Pre-school institutions

 

What to do if somebody in the group has been diagnosed with the coronavirus? Simplified quarantine

The health of child who has been a close contact in a pre-school child-care institution has to be monitored and if the child does not become symptomatic, she may continue to attend kindergarten or child care and participate in the same group's hobby activities as well. She can only participate in training and other hobby groups that take place outside the institution after 10 days have passed since the close contact. Simplified quarantine does not apply if the close contact took place somewhere else -- for instance at home or during hobby activities outside the kindergarten.

Can hobby activities take place in kindergartens?

Yes, hobby activities can take place but here as well it is recommended to follow the so-called bubbles' principle as much as possible, i.e. organise the activities in groupings that are as composed as permanently as possible. Weather permitting, we recommend doing the hobby activities outdoors, if possible.

Do children have to be given over to the kindergarten or child care outside of the premises?

If possible, it is recommended to organise the transfer of children outdoors and, in cooperation with the families, to also find suitable solutions for supporting the children who come to the kindergarten or child care facility for the first time.

Symptomatic children, parents, and employees are not permitted to be in child care institutions.

How should daily activities be organised in kindergartens?

We recommend that children spend as much time as possible outdoors.

The so-called principle of bubbles should be followed in organising activities, i.e. study trips and excursions should take place in concrete and permanent groups. Contacts between different groups should also be avoided in commonly used rooms as well.

If groups are merged, we recommend that it is always children from the same groups that join each other.

Is it allowed to take children to the kindergarten or child care?

Yes. Kindergartens may continue their regular work, keeping in mind the necessary precautions.

The instructions of the Ministry of Education and Research on how to organise the work of kindergartens and child care facilities can be found on the web page of the ministry (in Estonian).

Can a kindergarten prohibit attendance of a child who has stayed home for 10 days after returning from a foreign country and who has no symptoms of a disease? What should a parent do if their child is not allowed to attend the kindergarten?

Not allowing a child to attend kindergarten must be substantiated, for instance if:

  • it is known that there has been a breach of the requirement to stay at home after returning from a trip
  • the child lives with or has come in contact with a family member or some other person who has the coronavirus or is suspected of having it. The parent has an obligation to present true information about a possible risk of infection.

The local municipality has to guarantee a place in kindergarten to all children who have at least one parent registered as living in that local municipality. This means that if the head of the kindergarten refuses to accept a child, the parent should contact the local municipality.

The health concition of oneself and one's family members must certainly be monitored closely and a symptomatic child is not to be taken to kindergarten. The kindergarten has the right to send sick children home.

Should the employees of kindergartens or child care facilities wear personal protective equipment?

It is recommended that unvaccinated employees wear a mask. We recommend that all adults wear a mask at events where it is not possible to keep a distance and in situations where children from different groups come into contact with each other.

 

Testing for the virus

 

What should I do if I suspect that I have been infected or if I have COVID-19?

If you are COVID-19 positive or suspect that you have been infected, stay home if you have any kind of symptoms. Avoid contact with other people, follow hand and respiratory hygiene. If at all possible, have all essentials delivered to you at home contact free.

If you suspect that you have been infected with the coronavirus:

  • Contact your family doctor. The family doctor will evaluate the need for testing, give medical advice and will also start a certificate of incapacity for work or a certificate for care leave (the so-called certificate for sick leave). If you are unable to contact your family doctor, call the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 (634 66 30). The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7, advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day from 15.00 to 17.00).
  • If the family doctor decides that testing is necessary, you will be given a digital referral. Make sure that your family doctor has your correct phone number so that the testing centre could contact you.
  • Once the referral has been submitted, you can book a testing appointment for yourself. Adults get an SMS along with a link to the National Booking System to the phone number on the referral. In the online booking system of the testing centre you can identify yourself with an ID card or Mobile ID and book your own appointment. If you do not wish to use the online registry system or the SMS does not reach you for some reason, wait for a call from the testing centre -- the testing centre is making calls in the order the referrals reached them. Testing takes place on weekends and public holidays as well.
  • Go to testing on time and make sure to take an identification document with you -- you can give a nasopharyngeal sample only on the basis of a digital referral and an identification document. You should go to testing alone. More information about testing can be found on the web page of the Health Board. If you have questions, you can turn to the testing call centre (+372) 646 4848 (Monday to Friday 9-17).
  • After giving the sample, stay home and wait for the results. You will receive the results within two working days. If the result was positive, you will get a phone call and you can see the results yourself in the Patient Portal digilugu.ee.

Foreigners and people who do not have health insurance have to contact the nearest family health centre if they become symptomatic. If there is cause to suspect an upper respiratory virus (fever, dry cough, difficulties breathing), the patients are served regardless of whether they belong to the family doctor's list or not.

If you have COVID-19:

  • If your test result was positive, you have to remain in self-isolation at home. Follow the recommendations of the family doctor, you can also find advice on how to treat the coronavirus at home from the guidelines of the Health Board (in Estonian). If your health condition worsens suddenly, call 112.
  • Make sure to inform your close contacts. Close contacts must remain in self-isolation for 10 days, except if they have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months or no more than a year has passed since getting vaccinated against the disease. More specific instructions on how to determine close contacts can be found on the web page of the Health Board.
  • The Health Board will contact you at first chance to determine the circumstances of your infection. See the questions that the official will ask you -- if possible, think them through even before the Health Board's call.
  • If you are using the HOIA app, mark your infection in the app as well.
  • As an infected person you have to stay in self-isolation for at least ten days. You have to remain in a 10-day isolation even if the symptoms disappear in a few days. This will help to prevent the disease from spreading.
  • Recovery is decided by a doctor -- generally you are declared healthy if you have not had a fever for at least 72 hours and acute symptoms of the virus have receded.

If the results of your corona test were positive but you have no symptoms:

  • Stay home. Avoid contacts with other people and follow hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • If no symptoms appear, the isolation is ended after 10 days have passed since the positive test. The day of taking the test is considered Day 0. Isolation is ended by a doctor.
  • If symptoms appear during isolation, the isolation restarts from when the symptoms appeared and the patient is a symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive.

Is it possible to do a COVID test at a pharmacy?

It is possible to do the SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test meant for self-testing at bigger pharmacies, in the presence and with the guidance of a pharmacy worker. If the test result is negative, you will be issued a certificate that confirms that the test was carried out at a pharmacy and its result was negative. A test done at a pharmacy is valid for 48 hours and can be used within Estonia to prove one's infection risk status in places where a COVID certificate is required (e.g. entertainment, catering, sports facilities, different organised activities etc.).

The certificate is meant for healthy persons who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus or recovered from the disease within the past six months but need a COVID certificate in order to participate in activities. People who can be suspected of suffering from acute COVID-19 (including symptomatic persons or close contacts) are not being tested.

The whole testing process takes about 20 minutes (buying the service, self-testing, and staying in the observation area for 15 minutes). It is a paid service. Please bring an identification document along to the testing and follow the requirements in force for commercial establishments. Prior booking might be necessary.

For instance, the possibility to self-test is offered by different service locations of Apotheka, Benu, Südameapteek (all links in Estonian).

The period of self-isolation can be shortened with a COVID test. If a person has taken along a rapid COVID test when leaving Estonia and does that 48h before returning to Estonia, would that be accepted?

The test must be administered by a health care service provider.

What must be kept in mind when doing the rapid tests?

The following needs to be considered:

Rapid tests that are valid for 48 hours:

  • antigen rapid tests that are used have been approved in the EU and meant for professional use
  • are done by a health care service provider, generally in their own medical centres, special testing locations (e.g. Confido's 17 locations across Estonia, Corrigo in Ida-Virumaa) or the user himself at a holder of an activity licence for general pharmacy services according to the instructions of the Health Board
  • the test results are entered into the health information system
  • a person gets a certificate to prove a negative result
  • a person pays for the service herself

Rapid tests that are valid only for the specific event, for providing a service on the spot

  • antigen rapid tests that are used have been approved in the EU
  • the tests are done by the visitor herself, on the spot, upon arriving to an event or to consume the service
  • doing the test is guided by a vaccinated person responsible for the activity; there is also a possibility to hire a health care service provider
  • an operator may charge for the service

If the test result is positive or unclear, the person must stay in isolation and contact their family doctor to confirm the diagnosis with a PCR test.

More information in the Health Board's instructions for administering rapid tests. (in Estonian).

Starting from October 25, 2021: A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof in Estonia for participating in activities taking place in public indoor spaces. The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

How accurate are the rapid antigen tests?

This definitely depends on the test, but they have considerably improved within a year. The rapid antigen tests usually indicate their sensitivity and specificity. The sensitivity shows how many people with antigens the test identifies on average. If the test has 97% sensitivity, it finds 32 of 33 sick persons but also identifies one sick person as a false healthy. Specificity shows how many people without antigens it can identify on average. If the specificity is 99%, the test finds one false infected among 100 persons without antigens.

Still, these indicators only apply if the level of virus in the organism is high. If there are few antigens (before symptoms occur or immediately after the disease), the tests might show the correct results.

How should a child prepare for giving a throat rinse sample to test for COVID-19?

Throat rinse samples can be given by children under the age of 18 at public testing sites and at the SYNLAB site for paid testing. Upon coming to take a test, the child gets to choose whether he wants to do the regular nasopharyngeal test or a throat rinse test. The throat rinse test cannot be done at the border crossing points as the procedure takes longer and this would lengthen the waiting times of everybody who is doing the test.

It is recommended that in order to prepare the children, they should try out gargling with tap water at home with their parents before coming for testing. This way the children know what will be waiting for them in advance.

In order for the throat rinse sample to be gathered correctly, it can be given only at a testing location, instructed by a medical professional. To give a sample, the patient receives 10 millilitres of saline solution (sodium chloride) that he needs to gargle in his throat (it is important to distinguish this from a regular mouth wash). The medical professional pulls some of the throat rinse liquid from the cup into a special test-tube, marks it with the patient's information and sends it to a laboratory to be analysed with the same, PCR method. The results of the analysis come to the digilugu.ee portal within 24 to 48 hours, just like with the nasopharyngeal test. It is possible to issue the certificate necessary for travelling based on the throat rinse test as well.

An appointment is done in the same way, whether it is for a nasopharyngeal or a throat rinse test. In order to get a referral, you must turn to your family doctor or call the family doctor advice line 1220. To do a paid test, you need to book an appointment by calling the paid testing site of SYNLAB at 17123 or by writing to klienditugi[at]synlab[dot]ee.

How much does it cost for a foreign national to take a coronavirus test at the border?

Foreign nationals will have to pay a fee to take the test, the coronavirus test at the port and the airport will cost EUR 52, in other places the prices will be indicated by the service provider. Testing can be carried out by the following service providers:

If the test has to be done up to 72 hours before arrival, will the person travelling need to pay for the test themselves? Will this amount be refunded later?

If testing in a foreign country is for a fee, then this fee will not be refunded when the person arrives in Estonia. No changes have been made in Estonia regarding the payment for testing. You can get tested at the port and the airport immediately upon arrival, and the test will be free with the Estonian ID-code.

How can I get re-tested?

Re-testing is available to passengers who have come to Estonia from countries at-risk from COVID-19 or have travelled through an at-risk country. Information about the at-risk countries can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs home page.

If you the Estonian ID-card and the national identification number:

  • re-testing is optional, taking the second tests helps to reduce the 10-day restriction on freedom of movement period, provided the results of both tests are negative.

  • re-testing can be done on the sixth day after the results of the first test after arrival in Estonia.

  • re-testing is free of charge for passengers who have arrived in Estonia from an at-risk country or travelled through an at-risk country.

  • the second test has to be booked in advance and can be taken only at public testing points in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Viljandi, Paide, Rakvere, Võru, Kuressaare, Kärdla, Haapsalu, Rapla, Sillamäe, Valga and Põlva.

  • the call centre will make an appointment for the second test.

People who have done their first test in another country (i.e. not at the border) must call to the call centre for people crossing the border 678 0000 (Monday to Friday 9pm to 5pm).

Foreign nationals who do not have an Estonian ID-card or the national identification number but who are nationals of countries belonging to the European Union common list:

  • re-testing is optional, taking the second tests helps to reduce the 10-day restriction on freedom of movement period, provided the results of both tests are negative.

  • re-testing can be done on the sixth day after the results of the first test after arrival in Estonia.

  • re-testing can be done for a fee.

  • the second test has to be booked in advance and can be taken only at public testing points in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Viljandi, Paide, Rakvere, Võru, Kuressaare and Kärdla.

  • you need to make your own appointment for re-testing with the service provider and pay a fee for the test.

Foreign nationals who do not have an Estonian ID-card or the national identification number, and who are nationals of third countries outside the European Union (including, for example, the Russian Federation and Ukraine) and who arrive in Estonia to work or study:

  • re-testing is compulsory. There is no possibility to shorten the period of self-isolation.

  • re-testing can be done from the tenth day after arrival to Estonia.

  • re-testing can be done for a fee.

  • the second test has to be booked in advance and can be taken only at public testing points in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Viljandi, Paide, Rakvere, Võru, Kuressaare and Kärdla.

  • you need to make your own appointment for re-testing with the service provider and pay a fee for the test.

Foreign nationals can take a test for a fee at all the service providers who offer this option, such as: Confido, Medicum, SYNLAB, Qvalitas Arstikeskus

How can a close contact get tested?

  • If symptoms occur during the 10-day self-isolation or health monitoring period, it is necessary to turn to the family doctor wh owill issue a referral to testing.
  • If symptoms do not occur, the Health Board recommends that a close contact do a test at the end of the 10 calendar day quarantine period, in order to discover a possible case of asymptomatic infection. An appointment for testing must be booked by calling 646 4848 (Monday to Friday 8-18; Saturday and Sunday 10-16).

Close contacts can get tested free of charge.

I have a referral to coronavirus testing. Why has the testing centre not called me yet?

Due to the increase in testing volumes, the waiting time is now a bit longer. If you provided your phone number when the referral was issued, you will be contacted.

When the letter of referral from the family doctor arrives, you can also register yourself to be tested for coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. A short message will be sent to the telephone number provided to the public testing system after receipt of the letter of referral which will allow you to use the e-registration via the enclosed link.

Can the self-isolation time of a close contact be reduced by testing?

The self-isolation period of a close contact (10 calendar days) cannot be reduced with a test. However, you can avoid having to stay home by vaccinating against COVID-19, as self-isolation is not obligatory for asymptomatic close contacts who:

  • have completed the course of COVID-19 vaccinations, achieved maximum protection after the last dose and no more than one year has passed since the last dose;
  • have completed the course of COVID-19 vaccinations, achieved maximum protection and received a complementary dose (the so-called additional or booster dose) after the course was completed, and no more than one year has passed since receiving the complementary dose;
  • have been equated to vaccinated persons, i.e. received one dose of the vaccine after recovery from COVID-19, achieved maximum protection after the vaccine dose and no more than one year has passed since the last dose of the vaccine, or have become infected with COVID-19 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, have recovered from COVID-19 and no more than one year has passed since doing the SARS-CoV-2 test that confirmed the diagnosis or the date that the diagnosis was confirmed;
  • have recovered from COVID-19 no more than 180 days ago.

Where can I find information on public testing sites?

The newest info on testing sites can be found here.

Where can I get tested when returning from a high-risk country, and what is the cost?

People arriving on foot at the Port of Tallinn, terminals A and D, can take their test with a clinician from Confido, and people arriving at the Tallinn airport can approach the Qvalitas testing point with their letter of referral. The letter of referral will be provided at the airport. Issuing the letter of referral and taking the test will take about five minutes. Testing will take place on a first-come-first-serve basis at the port and airport. The testing sites are open until the last passenger by boat or plane has arrived.

Passengers arriving from a high-risk country at any other sea port or airport or by train or road transport, can get tested by booking a time with the SYNLAB and Medicum testing centres by calling 678 0000 (Monday-to-Friday 9 am to 5 pm). Priority in testing will be given to those with symptoms of the disease, therefore the waiting time will be one to two days. If you already know your time of arrival, it is recommended to book the test in advance. Testing is free for persons who have an Estonian personal identification code; foreigners can pay by card on the spot.

Additional information on testing can be found https://koroonatestimine.ee/.

People arriving to Estonia from at-risk countries who wish to end isolation earlier than the tenth day must be tested not earlier than 72 hours before they arrive in Estonia. The second test can then be done in Estonia not earlier than on the sixth day after the first test. The period of six days will be calculated from the day following the first test. Self-isolation can be terminated early if the results of both tests are negative.

Appointment for a free test (with an Estonian ID code) can be booked by calling 678 0000 (Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm). A test for a fee can be done with all service providers who offer this service.

Does recovery from the coronavirus give an immunity against the disease and how long could it last?

According to the current data, recovery from COVID-19 gives an immunity for at least six months.

It is still recommended that people who have recovered from COVID-19 receive one dose of the vaccine on the sixth month after recovery.

Vaccinating recovered people with two doses of the vaccine is generally not medically indicated (except for some immunodeficiency conditions). If there is unavoidable need (due to travel restrictions in certain countries etc.), it is possible to administer a person a second dose if he so wishes. The period between the two doses is the interval determined in the summary of the vaccine properties. The later the second dise is administered, the better and more permanent the immunity that can be achieved.

What should I do to get tested for the coronavirus?

If you have any symptoms, stay at home, and call your family doctor or the family doctors' helpline at +372 6346 630 or 1220 (24/7).

When the family doctor has sent the referral to the testing system, a text message will be sent to the adult getting tested (aged 18 or above) on the number provided on the referral. This will allow for booking the time for testing via the online booking system. After the referral has arrived to the laboratory information system, the website gives you access to the website https://www.veebiregistratuur.ee, and you can book your time for testing. It is necessary to identify oneself with an ID card, Mobile ID or Smart ID upon making the booking.

All those who are using the online booking system or won't receive the text message for technical reasons will be called by the testing call centre in the order of the referrals received, within one day (calls will be made from Monday to Saturday). If the call centre has not contacted you within 48 hours, we recommend contacting the family doctor to check if the phone number included on the referral is correct, and if the referral has been forwarded. If the phone number on the referral is correct, please contact the testing call centre, their opening times are available on the website https://koroonatestimine.ee/en/customer-support/.

Take an ID document with you to the test and be on time

The locations of testing points can be found on https://koroonatestimine.ee/en/testing-sites/ , information about paid testing can be found on https://koroonatestimine.ee/en/for-patients/paid-testing/, more information about the test can also be found on the Health Board website https://www.terviseamet.ee/en/testing-virus, and by phone 1247.

Where can I do a paid coronavirus test?

There are several service providers who offer paid testing (the list in not exhaustive):

Testing is substantiated for people who are symptomatic or for whom it is medicaööy indicated. Testing asymptomatic people is not considered feasible, as the test results only reflects the situation at the moment of testing and a negative result may cause a false sense of security and does not rule out getting infected in the near future.

How long does it take for the Health Board to receive the results of a coronavirus test after testing? Will the person tested get a phone call only if the test came back positive or regardless of the result?

Persons who have tested positive will definitely receive a phone call. Testing and providing information on the test results takes time due to excessive workload, but usually the results come in within two days.

When the person tests negative, the test results will be entered to the digital Patient Portal digilugu.ee, because it is not possible to call every person who has been tested. You can access digilugu.ee website using your ID-card or Mobile-ID.

 

What to do if you are a close contact?

 

How can a close contact get tested?

  • If symptoms occur during the 10-day self-isolation or health monitoring period, it is necessary to turn to the family doctor wh owill issue a referral to testing.
  • If symptoms do not occur, the Health Board recommends that a close contact do a test at the end of the 10 calendar day quarantine period, in order to discover a possible case of asymptomatic infection. An appointment for testing must be booked by calling 646 4848 (Monday to Friday 8-18; Saturday and Sunday 10-16).

Close contacts can get tested free of charge.

Who is a close contact?

A close contact is considered to be a person who has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person for at least 15 minutes and closer than two meters. The contact time is calculated as a total during 24 hours (e.g. 5 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes during the afternoon, and 5 minutes in the evening makes a total of 15 minutes).

A person who has COVID-19 is infectious for about 2 days prior to and up to 10 days after becoming symptomatic.

For instance, a close contact is a person who:

  • lives in the same household with a person who has COVID-19 (e.g. family members);
  • has been in physical contact with a person who has COVID-19 (e.g. shaking hands);
  • has been in direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who has COVID-19 without using protective equipment (e.g. has been coughed on, used a patient's paper tissue with bare hands);
  • has been in the same room with a person who has COVID-19 (e.g. classroom, conference room, waiting room of a hospital, work room etc.), if the room does not have adequate ventilation and/or personal protective equipment was not used, and there is a risk of coming in contact with the virus.

The notification of being a close contact can, for instance, come from the sick person you were in contact with, the Health Board or through the HOIA app. If the notification is about being a close contact and a self-isolation period that is about to end, the reason might be that the sick person went to do the test late or the HOIA app was notified late. The Health Board gets the information about the sick person and her close contacts only when the positive results of the sick person's test have come in and the sick person has been contacted. The HOIA app can also notify close contacts only if the sick person has entered the information into the app.

If you were in close contact with an infected person, you have to stay home in self-isolation for 10 days, unless you have completed a course of vaccinations within the past year (or completed the course and received a complementary dose of the vaccine), recovered from COVID-19 no more than 180 days ago, or recovered from the disease and received one dose of the vaccine (the so-called equated to a vaccinated person).

The isolation days are calculated from when the close contact took place, the isolation calculator of the Family Medicine Association (in Estonian) helps to calculate the days.

What to do if a person falls ill while at an educational institution? Simplified quarantine.

An employee who has fallen ill must inform the leadership of the institution. A student who has fallen ill must turn to a teacher or a school nurse who will inform the leadership of the institution of the child's condition. The student's parents are informed of the student having fallen ill.

Depending on the age of the child, the he is either sent home or is isolated from others in a room suitable for this under the supervision of a teacher/school nurse until a parent arrives. The person who has fallen ill and the adult who is dealing with him are given a surgical mask. If the ill person's health condition becomes dangerous (quickly rising fever, pain in the chest, shortness of breath, acute pain of a different kind etc.) and he is feeling extremely poorly, 112 must be called.

In order to better contain the spread of COVID-19, it is important that the person who has fallen ill (in the case of a student his parent or other legal representative) informs the educational institution if a COVID-19 infection is confirmed. The institution will inform members of that class or group (and parents). The notification has to be done with a sense of delicacy, without revealing the name or other identifying data of the person who has been infected. The regional department of the Health Board will contact the educational institution and inform of the confirmed diagnosis, after which the school will establish the close contacts and notify the parents.

Simplified quarantine: children and youths who are unvaccinated and asymptomatic

If an unvaccinated young person under the age of 18 or turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year comes in contact with a person who has COVID-19 in child care, kindergarten or school and is not symptomatic himself, he is allowed to keep participating in school or kindergarten but also in hobby groups that are only attended by children or youths from the same school or kindergarten. The same applies if the close contact happened in hobby groups where only children from the same school or kindergarten participate -- in that case it is also allowed to continue going to school or kindergarten if there are no symptoms.

  • For children under the age of 12 it is enough to monitor their health condition: if there are no symptoms, the child may continue participating in academic activities and hobby activities that take place among the same circle of people.

  • An unvaccinated 12-18 year old or young person turning 19 in the course of the 2021/2022 academic year has to additionally: 1) do a SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test (the so-called rapid test) and 2) do a repeat coronavirus PCR test no later than 72 hours after the close contact was established, the results of both of which have to be negative. If the first test is negative and there are no symptoms, the child does not have to stay home in between the two tests.

A simplified quarantine always lasts for ten days and during this period the child or young person needs to refrain from informal education and hobby activities that take place outside of the school, kindergarten or child care, youth work and other activities (e.g. entertainment, going to the store etc.).

Starting from November 1, 2021: unvaccinated young people who are up to 18 years old or turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year, whose close contact was at school, during hobby activities or youth work can stay in simplified quarantine if the take a PCR test no sooner than on the 4th day after the close contact and it is negative. Until the test results come in, they have to stay home. Even if the test is negative, it is only allowed to participate in academic and educational activities, hobby activities and youth work within ten days from the close contact.

Students who are vaccinated and recovered from COVID-19

An asymptomatic fully vaccinated student or one who has recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months does not have to stay in self-isolation if they have been a close contact and can continue with their usual activities.

What should I do if I have been in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus but have not been notified of being a close contact?

A close contact is considered to be a person who has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person for at least 15 minutes and closer than two meters. The contact time is calculated as a total during 24 hours (e.g. 5 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes during the afternoon, and 5 minutes in the evening makes a total of 15 minutes).

If you know that during the previous 10 calendar days you have been in contact with a person who has received a COVID-19 diagnosis, you have to stay at home or in your permanent place of residence regardless of whether you have been contacted by the Health Board or not, unless:

  • you have recovered from COVID-19 no more than 180 days ago;
  • you have completed the course of COVID-19 vaccinations, achieved maximum protection after the last dose of the vaccine and no more than one year has passed since receiving the last dose of the vaccine;
  • you are considered the same as vaccinated, i.e. after recovery from COVID-19 you gave received one dose of the vaccine, achieved maximum protection after the vaccine dose and no more than one year has passed since receiving the last dose of the vaccine; or you have become infected with COVID-19 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, have recovered from COVID-19 and no more than one year has passed since doing the SARS-CoV-2 test confirming the diagnosis or the confirmation of the diagnosis.

If the close contact with a coronavirus carrier took place in kindergarten or child care, general education school or vocational school, the children and young people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from COVID-19 have to stay in simplified quarantine.

The counting of the 10 calendar day quarantine period starts from when the sick person became symptomatic or, if the sick person was asymptomatic, from the day the sick person did the positive SARS-CoV-2 test. If you have been in close contact with a sick person in some other way, the 10 calendar day quarantine period will be counted from the last date you were in close contact with the sick person. The isolation calculator of the Estonian Family Medicine Association (in Estonian) helps to calculate the isolation days of a close contact.

The Health Board recommends that a close contact do a test after the end of the 10 calendar day self-isolation period, in order to discover a possible case of asymptomatic coronavirus.

Should a close contact of a close contact stay in self-isolation?

If a close contact of a close contact (e.g. family member, colleague) is not symptomatic, she does not have to stay in self-isolation and can continue their everyday activities.

It is also important to note that even a slight fatigue and a scratchy throat are symptoms. If a close contact of a close contact becomes symptomatic (usually on the 4th to 6th day after the close contact took place), he is considered a close contact as well and has to stay home if he is not vaccinated, considered to be the same as vaccinated, or recovered from COVID-19 within the past 180 days.

I am a close contact and have to stay in self-isolation. How should I behave?

If you have to stay in self-isolation then, due to the length of the incubation period of the COVID-19 infection, you should stay at home for 10 calendar days from the close contact and monitor your health. Even though testing is not compulsory, the Health Board recommends that a close contact do a SARS-CoV-2 test when the quarantine ends, in order to establish a possible asymptomatic infection.

Let your family doctor know of a close contact you had with a COVID-19 positive person at first chance. If your health condition worsens, contact your family doctor again and follow the subsequent instructions. If you do not have a family doctor, call the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 (+372 634 66 30). Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

Here are the guidelines for your 10 day monitoring period:

  1. Use possibilities for distance work and study

  2. Do not leave your home or place of residence, except

  • in order to procure what is essential for your everyday subsistence;
  • at the invitation of a doctor in order to visit a medical institution;
  • to go outdoors (to a park, the woods etc.) while completely avoiding any contact with others;
  • if the SARS-CoV-2 test done 10 days after the close contact established by the Health Board is negative.
  1. Follow the requirements for health safety:
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water and disinfect if necessary, considering that the virus can spread from contaminated objects;

  • avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth and nose with your hands;

  • air the rooms regularly (at least twice a day, at least 15 minutes at a time);

  • when coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with a paper towel or your sleeve (throw the paper away immediately after use and then wash your hands).

  1. If you have to go out in public in order to obtain the essential items necessary for everyday subsistence, you must wear a mask.

  2. If you have further questions, read the legal acts and explanatory letters (in Estonian) enacting the coronavirus control measures, or call the state helpline 1247.

If you, or someone else in your household develop symptoms of the disease, then

  1. call the family doctor or the Family Doctors' Advice Line 1220 as soon as possible,

  2. tell them that you have been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19,

  3. describe your health condition and follow the medical instructions.

  4. if your health deteriorates suddenly, call 112.

NB! When calling the emergency medical services, make sure you provide them with information regarding your contact with a person infected with COVID-19.

We ask that you don't go to the emergency medicine department of a hospital or to the family doctor's office yourself if symptoms occur, but rather ask for treatment recommendations and instructions by phone. We also ask that you definitely inform the Health Board as well if symtoms occur or your health condition deteriorates.

I am a close contact. Do I have to stay in self-isolation?

If you were in close contact with an infected person, you have to stay home in self-isolation for 10 days unless:

  • you have recovered from COVID-19 no more than 180 days ago;
  • you have completed the course of COVID-19 vaccinations, achieved maximum protection after the last dose of the vaccine and no more than one year has passed since your last dose of the vaccine;
  • You have completed the course of vaccinations against COVID-19, achieved maximum protection and received a complementary dose of the vaccine (the so-called additional or booster dose) after completing the course and no more than one year has passed from the complementary dose;
  • you are considered to be the same as vaccinated, i.e. after recovery from COVID-19 you have received one dose of the vaccine, achieved maximum protection after the vaccine dose and no more than one year has passed since your last dose of the vaccine, or you have been infected with COVID-19 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, have recovered from COVID-19 and no more than one year has passed from the date of the SARS-CoV-2 test confirming the diagnosis or the confirmation of the diagnosis.

If you have not recovered from COVID-19 or been vaccinated, and are a close contact, you have to remain in self-isolation for 10 days and stay home.

What does self-isolation mean?

The compulsory period of self-isolation is 10 days. The days are counted from when the close contact took place.

A person who has been sent to self-isolation is not allowed to go to work, school (except in the case of simplified quarantine), public places or to use public transport. It is obligatory to stay home. Instead of visiting the store or the pharmacy, you should turn to your acquaintances or use the e-store to order the necessary items. If you order food or essential items by courier, you have to avoid direct contact. It is only allowed to leave your home if there is an urgent need, e.g. to go to the doctor or to procure essential items or medicines, if you cannot get them without leaving your home.

If a close contact with a virus carrier took place in a kindergarten or child care, general education school or vocational school, the children and youths who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from COVID-19 have to stay in simplified quarantine.

 

About the coronavirus and how it spreads

 

How can I protect myself against the coronavirus?

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19: by vaccinating against the coronavirus we can more back towards the regular order of life. More information on where and how to get vaccinated can be found at the vaktsineeri.ee web page and from the state helpline 1247.

  • Wash your hands: hands should be washed with soap under warm running water, use hand disinfectant, if necessary.

  • Move in a dispersed manner: keep a distance with other people when in a public indoor space. Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or sneezing. By standing too close to a symptomatic person you can get infected as well.

  • Avoid touching you eyes, nose and mouth: if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands, there is a chance that the virus will be transmitted to you.

  • Find help early: if you have a fever, cough or difficulties breathing, find help early. Monitor your health and stay home. Call your family doctor or to the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220.

  • Follow respiratory hygiene: if you sneeze or cough, cover your nose and mouth with a single use tissue. Throw it into the bin immediately after, and then clean your hands. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (the inside of your elbow), but do not use your bare hand.

  • Wear a mask: a mask must be worn in public indoor spaces where a COVID certificate is not required and where everyone who wants to can enter (e.g. shopping centers, public transport etc.). Covering the nose and mouth stops the viruses from spreading further. If you sneeze into your bare hand, the viruses can transfer from you to other people and objects that you touch.

How can I contribute to solving the crisis as a volunteer?

Before starting as a volunteer make sure that you are healthy and know how to protect yourself and others from the virus. If you have not had the disease, make sure to get vaccinated and follow other precautions as well -- do not put yourself or those in need of help in danger. If you are in a risk group (e.g. you are over the age of 60 or have a chronic disease), it would be wise to choose a way of helping that would have fewer direct contacts, for instance supportive phone conversations with the elderly. Take care of the safety and health of yourself and others.

  • If you wish to contribute as a volunteer and help people who have run into problems, start near yourself: from your building, street, village, municipality, association.

  • Voluntary work is offering up your time, energy, or skills out of free will and without getting any remuneration: volunteers help others or work mainly in the public interests and for the good of the society. It is important to ensure that no one would be left without attention or, to the contrary, would put themselves in danger by helping someone or accepting help.

  • When it comes to calls for voluntary action, you should maintain a clear head and make sure that the goal, intermediary and caller are trustworthy, in order to stop the fast spread of the virus and protect yourself from scams.

If you wish to offer your services as a volunteer to organisations or need support to work as a volunteer, use the portal Vabatahtlike Värav at https://vabatahtlikud.ee/eng. The page also aggregates the guidelines that have been issued to volunteers and non-governmental organisations on hhow to act in the current situation.

How does the coronavirus spread?

The virus spreads from person to person through droplet infection, mainly by a close contact with a potentially infected person who has symptoms of the infection, primarily a cough.

Thus the virus can spread from person to person in several different ways:

  • Droplets or aerosols. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, the droplets or small particles called aerosols carry the virus from his nose or mouth into the air. Anyone that is closer than 2 meters to this person can breathe them into their lungs. That is why it is important to keep a distance and wear a mask.
  • Spreading through the air. Studies have shown that the virus can live in the air for up to 3 hours. It can get into your lungs if someone who has it exhales and you inhale that air. To prevent this from happening, it is important to air and ventilate rooms often.
  • Surface transmission. Another way to become infected is to touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed onto. For instance, you can get the virus if you touch a contaminated work surface or door knob, and then touch your nose, mouth or eyes. On surfaces like plastic or stainless steel, the virus can live for 2-3 days. To stop the spread of the virus, clean and disinfect all tables, buttons and other surfaces that you or your family touches several times a day.

Most often the virus spreads through symptomatic people. But it is possible to transmit the virus without showing any signs of it. Some people who do not know that they are infected can transmit the virus to others. This is called asymptomatic spread. It is also possible to transmit the virus before the signs of infection are noticed. This kind of infection is called presymptomatic spread.

**The best way to contain the spread of the virus is vaccination and staying home if any kind of symptoms occur."

Can the virus spread from dead people as well?

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) there is no evidence that anybody has caught the infection from a dead person.

There still might be a certain risk of infection in coming into contact with the bodily fluids of a dead person who had the coronavirus. Therefore, it is better to avoid any kind of contact with a dead person who had given a positive coronavirus sample.

How does COVID-19 differ from influenza?

Both flu viruses and the novel coronavirus are droplet infections. This means that infection takes place mainly when the virus particles that have spread from an infected person to the air with saliva by, for instance, coughing, speaking, sneezing, get into the respiratory tract of another person from there. It is not possible to tell by symptoms only whether the disease is the novel coronavirus or some other virus causing a respiratory tract infection. That is why, if any acute respiratiry infection symptoms occur, it is recommended to suspect that it is the novel coronavirus, and do a coronavirus test to rule it out.

Symptoms

  • Influenza - fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, runny or blocked nose, fatigue, sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea. Most patients recover within less than two weeks. In some patients, flu may cause serious complications, including pneumonia. The prevalence of flu is very similar every year.

  • COVID-19 - coronavirus – fever, cough, breathing difficulties. COVID-19 symptoms have not been completely understood. It is also not yet known how serious these symptoms can be or how many people infected with COVID-19 virus have only very mild symptoms or none at all. Most cases of COVID-19 infection are not serious.

Virus spread

Every person infected with the influenza virus infects an average of 1.3 healthy people.

Coronavirus is more infectious than influenza. Each person infected with the COVID-19 virus infects an average of 2.2 people.

Morbidity

In case of coronavirus or influenza infection, people aged over 60 with weakened immune system and/or chronic diseases are at the highest risk. Co-morbidity increases the disease risk. Children infected with coronavirus usually have mild symptoms or do not have any symptoms. Influenza is much more dangerous for children, especially for very young children who can get severely ill.

Mortality

COVID-19 mortality varies from region to region and depends on age and other factors. Older persons are the most vulnerable. Although COVID-19 mortality is not exactly known, most studies show that it is higher than the influenza mortality.

Treatment

The mortality of influenza would be higher if there were no treatment and vaccination. For the treatment of influenza, there are several prescription medications that have a good impact if they are taken within one or two days of the onset of symptoms. There are also medicines that are given to prevent flu for people who have been in contact with the virus carrier. In addition, there are widely available vaccines against influenza that generate a certain level of immunity.

No specific treatment or any approved antiviral medicine exists yet for COVID-19. Doctors can therefore recommend the usual measures: rest, take medicines to reduce pain and fever, and consume fluids to prevent dehydration. Vaccines exist against COVID-19 but the availability is still limited.

Prevention

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the influenza virus, it is recommended that you should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, avoid contact with your face if hands are unwashed, avoid contacts with sick people, stay at home in the case of illness, and disinfect surfaces and objects you touch daily.

Seasonality

In the case of influenza, a pattern is observed that the spread of the disease decreases in the spring and returns in the autumn when the weather gets colder.

It is not known whether and how the weather affects the COVID-19 virus. Even if the spread of the COVID-19 virus declines in the spring, it may return in the autumn.

See more about keeping risk groups safe, and limiting the spread of the virus from the articles of the Institute for Health Development:

How serious a disease is COVID-19?

COVID-19 symptoms are non-specific and their severity can vary. The disease may not always produce symptoms, but it may also lead to severe pneumonia. For those belonging to the risk groups in the worst case the disease can also end in death.

For most people who have been infected with the coronavirus, the progression of the disease is mild and they heal.

We would like to remind that the virus risk group includes older people and those who have chronic diseases, for whom the disease is more often more severe.

The virus spreads from person to person through droplet infection, mainly upon close contact with a person who might be infected, who is experiencing symptoms of the disease, primarily a cough.

The incubation period of the disease is about 2-14 days. A person can be infectious to other 2 days before symptoms occur or a positive SARS-CoV-2 analysis is given. The virus can also spread from an infected person whose symptoms are very mild.

*The most common symptoms include :

headache, loss of smell, congested nose, cough, fatigue and weakness, muscle pain, runny nose, loss of taste, sore throat, fever.

In more severe cases there might be:

difficulties breathing, chest pain, problems with speech and movements.

Why do we need to take special care to protect elderly people and people with chronic diseases?

Coronavirus infection can be more severe in people over 60 years of age or in people with chronic conditions as their organism and immunity may be weaker.

Examples of chronic diseases include diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, tumours, asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases, chronic kidney and liver diseases, and immunodeficiency.

Coronavirus spreads from person to person, mainly via droplet infection.

That is why it is necessary to avoid close contact with the elderly and people with chronic conditions as much as possible.

It is not advisable to take even your healthy children to their grandparents, because if the children should fall ill, the grandparents are at high risk.

 

Vaccine fears, myths, and facts

 

Do the coronavirus vaccines cause vascular occlusions?

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) have not been connected to the creation of thrombi (vascular occlusions). The vaccines currently administered in Estonia are the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines.

All signals of danger are regularly analysed by assessing huge data volumes. People who have received the mRNA vaccines do not present with more cases of thrombosis or thrombembolism than those who have not.

It should, however, not be forgotten that people who get COVID-19 have a 16-20 times higher risk of thrombosis than healthy people. The objective of COVID-19 vaccination is preventing severe progression of the disease, i.e. also preventing the occurrence of thrombi during COVID-19.

The marketing authorisation that was issued to COVID-19 was based on a sufficient amount of data. It is also perfectly normal that the clinical studies are ongoing -- this also happens with other medicines.

Is it true that according to the VAERS database of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA, close to 1000 people have died in the US after receiving the vaccine?

This is a myth. The VAERS database contains all notifications that are forwarded there and does not reflect the confirmed side effects of the vaccines or deaths caused by them.

The entries to the database are unchecked and it also contains cases where there is no link between the vaccine or medicine and the reaction.

Do pathogens that will continue to damage the organism get into the body with certain vaccines?

No, the vaccines do not leave pathogens in the body.

The mRNA and virus vector based vaccines do not contain a pathogen, only the information in the form of DNA or mRNA, necessary for the creation of the antigen on the surface of the virus.

The DNA in the vaccine has been packaged inside some other virus (usually an adenovirus) but there viruses have been rendered unable to procreate. At the same time it is important to know that neither mRNA not DNA packaged inside an adenovirus integrates into our genome. Some viruses can do that (e.g. the HI-virus) but adenoviruses do not.

Has mortality gone up in care homes after vaccinations and have health problems increased?

The fact that the number of deaths in care homes is linked to COVID-19 vaccinations has found no confirmation. There have, however, been several coronavirus outbreaks in care homes, resulting in people losing their lives.

People who are vaccinated get infected and transmit the virus -- are the vaccines actually effective?

Yes, the vaccines are effective. According to the member of the Scientific Council and the professor of Mathematical Statistics at the University of Tartu, Krista Fischer, a vaccinated person has a 4 times smaller chance of getting infected with the coronavirus than an unvaccinated person.

One of the main objectives of vaccination is to protect against sever forms of the disease -- an unvaccinated person has a more than 8 times bigger chance of getting a severe form if infected with COVID. Thus, in addition to reducing the severity and duration of the disease, vaccination also contributes to stopping the spread of the virus.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 and gotten vaccinated subsequently have a 20 times smaller chance of getting re-infected. It should be kept in mind that getting the disease includes serious risks. For example, 7% of those infected need hospitalisation, the mortality of people hospitalised is 14%, and permanent health issues occur for many of those who survive.

As of September 21, 2021, 749,256 people had been administered at least one dose of the vaccine, which meant that the vaccine coverage among the adult population was 66.2%. As of September 21, 154 people were receiving hospital care due to COVID-19, 110 of who were unvaccinated. That is, a third of Estonian adults were unvaccinated, but unvaccinated people still made up close to three quarters of those in hospitals.

Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain cells of aborted foetuses?

No. The COVID-19 vaccines used in Estonia do not contain human cells.

In the case of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), foetal cells are not used at any stage of vaccine production.

In the case of adenovirus based vaccines (AstraZeneca and Jannsen), one stage of the production uses cells from a human foetus that have been acquired several decades ago and reproduced thousands of times in laboratory conditions since then. The cells themselves do not remain in the final product: the cells are destroyed in the course of the production and the vaccine is cleaned of their residues.

Does the mRNA or DNA contained in the vaccine merge with human DNA?

It does not.

As an effect of the COVID-19 vaccines, the cells of our body start producing the spike protein of the coronavirus for a short time. As a result of that, our immune system learns to recognize the virus in case there is an attack.

The mRNA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna) contain specific instructions (mRNA molecules) from which our cells know to produce the spike protein. The molecules of mRNA itself never reach the cell nucleus where the DNA is located.

The adenovirus based vaccines (AstraZeneca, Janssen) contain more general instructions (DNA molecules), based on which more concrete instructions (mRNA molecules) are constructed in our cell nucleus in order to produce spike protein.

Thus, in the case of adenovirus vaccines, the DNA that codes the coronavirus spike protein and is contained in the vaccine does temporarily enter our cell nucleus. This, however, does not mean that the DNA of the spike protein merges with our DNA. For this the adenovirus lacks the molecular tools and, additionally, the version of the adenovirus contained in the vaccine has been altered so that it can't reproduce in our cells.

Do the coronavirus vaccines contain metals hazardous to humans?

No. The COVID-19 vaccines used in Estonia do not contain aluminium or other metals.

Some vaccines (e.g. Infanrix that is used against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and hepatitis B) contain minuscule amounts of aluminium to strengthen the immune response. Injecting a large amount of aluminium into the veins would indeed be poisonous to nerve cells but the amount of aluminium used in vaccines very tiny (less than 1 mg per dose) and the vaccines are injected into the muscle, not the vein, which excludes the possibility of poisoning the nerves.

Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain poisons?

No, the vaccines do not contain substances hazardous to humans. All the excipients contained in the vaccines and other medicines have been selected carefully. They are added in the minimal necessary amount. The safety of all excipients has been proven and their suitability in the medicine has been assessed in the course of the procedure for issuing a marketing authorisation.

All the COVID-19 produced with different technologies have shown themselves to be safe. Even though reactions of the injection site (pain, inflammation, redness) and general reactions (fever, chills, feeling unwell, muscle and joint pain, pain and inflammation in the lymph nodes) are quite common, these are not dangerous and serious, and usually pass within a few days.

The only serious side effects that might occur are allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis was a known side effect of vaccination even before the COVID-19 vaccines arrived, and is exactly the reason why it is necessary to stay under observation at the vaccination location for 15 minutes after vaccination. No other serious side effects of COVID-19 have been found.

Is it possible to become infertile as a result of vaccination?

No. The COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility or a drop in fertility.

As the mRNA contained in the vaccine does not come in contact with human DNA, there is no effect on fertility or future children. Animal testing has also been conducted in order to establish whether there is a risk of infertility and there has been no indication that the vaccines have an effect on the ability to reproduce.

Getting COVID-19 can, however, have a negative effect on the fertility of men, as it can cause orchitis (inflammation of testicles) and lower the quality of men's semen.

Have AstraZeneca or other COVID-19 vaccines caused miscarriages?

No miscarriages related to Astra Zeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine have been reported to the Estonian Agency of Medicines.

Studies conducted in the world show that the frequency of miscarriages is the same among vaccinated women as it is among unvaccinated women.

Do people who are vaccinated radiate and thus have an effect on other people's fertility and menstrual cycle?

No. There is no basis or proof for the myths about different radiations or effect on fertility.

The Estonian Agency of Medicines has received notifications about temporary disruptions to menstrual cycles after using certain coronavirus vaccines. These were probably caused by temporary stress, fever or similar reactions that might occur after vaccination.

Are women who want to have a child, are pregnant or breastfeeding allowed to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Yes. The protection that the vaccine offers against getting sick outweighs all the risks related to getting vaccinated, including for women who are planning to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • if a woman who is pregnant gets infected, it increases the risk of both premature labour and the probability that the woman ends up needing intensive care. Vaccination reduces these risks considerably.
  • if a breastfeeding mother is vaccinated, the child will also obtain somewhat of a protection against COVID-19.

There is no biological reason why corona vaccines should be unsafe for pregnant women, foetuses or children who are being breastfed. This is also supported by animal tests in which multiplied vaccine doses administered to rats did not bring about any direct or indirect harm to pregnancy, the development of the foetus, birth or the postnatal period.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), where the Society of Estonian Gyneacologists is also a member, supports vaccinating pregnant and breastfeeding mothers against COVID-19, accounting also for the risk of infection, the size of the pregnancy, the health condition of the mother etc.

If you need further counselling to make a COVID-19 vaccination decision, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

Is Ivermectin a medicine for treating the coronavirus?

The European Medicines Agency has reviewed the existing data on using Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 and found that it is not sufficient to recommend using Ivermectin. The clinical studies conducted on this topic are small and differ from each other quite substantially, which in turn makes it more difficult to give a clear recommendation. Laboratory studies have shown that Ivermectin hinders the multiplication of COVID-19 but in a much higher concentration than is currently achievable with treatment doses used for humans. Higher doses, in turn, significantly increase the risk of side effects. See also the press release of the European Agency of Medicines.

What kind of a medicine is Ivermectin actually?

Ivermectin is a prescription medicine. It is used both in humans and in animals to treat for different parasites. Orally taken Ivermectin is indicated for treatment of pediculosis, acariasis and other infestations and helminths or parasitic worm diseases, scabies, and the residual effects of infectious and parasitic diseases. The Ivermectin tablets used in humans do not hold a marketing authorisation in Estonia but Ivermectin without a marketing authorisation is allowed to be used for certain diagnoses on the basis of an application from the Estonian Society for Infectious Diseases, i.e. it is possible to get it from the pharmacy with a prescription from a doctor and there is no need for a separate application from a doctor.

 

Vaccines

 

How can I get vaccinated against COVID-19?

A vaccination appointment can be booked:

  • at the digital registry at http://www.digilugu.ee
  • by calling 1247 (every day between 08.00 and 20.00)
  • at a pharmacy: find a pharmacy closest to you and book an appointment at the web page vaktsineeriapteegis.ee (in Estonian)
  • by calling the registry of the local hospital or medical institution.

It is also possible to get immunised without prior registration in vaccination buses and vaccination points. You can find all the options in different towns and counties from the web page vaktsineeri.ee -- locations that have no prior booking requirement have a green label "without registration".

Within the limits of Tallinn, a group of at least ten adults have the option of ordering a vaccine ambulance for themselves. The service can be ordered by sending an e-mail to ltkhvak[at]keskhaigla[dot]ee. The query must contain an address where the ambulance is ordered, a date, the desired time of day, the number of people who want to get vaccinated (10 at minimum) and their personal identification codes. The vaccination ambulance team will contact the person who submitted the order to agree upon the exact time.

The location of vaccination is not connected to a person's official place of residence: everyone can book an appointment and go to get vaccinated in an area suitable to them all across Estonia. A booking for a minor must be done by his legal representative.

In addition to hospitals and private health care service providers it is possible to get vaccinated at schools (more information: vaktsineeri.ee (in Estonian). The elderly and people in risk groups also continue to be vaccinated by family doctors.

Make certain to be on time for your vaccination appointment or let the vaccinating institution know at first chance if you will not be able to go to your agreed upon vaccination for some reason.

If you need further counselling on COVID-19 vaccinations, we recommend that you consult with your family doctor or call the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

I received one dose of the vaccine and became infected with the coronavirus. What will happen to the second dose?

If you have already received one dose of the vaccine before you got infected, the necessity of a second shot depends on the moment you fell ill:

  • if you got COVID-19 within two weeks of receiving the first dose, the recommendation is to administer one dose of the vaccine on the sixth month after recovery. After this the course of vaccinations is considered completed. Before receiving the second dose, if necessary, a person can prove their infection risk status with a COVID-19 recovery certificate which is valid if less than 180 days have passed since the positive test result (PCR test).
  • if you got COVID-19 more than two weeks after receiving the shot, it is no longer necessary to administer the second shot and the course of vaccinations is considered completed.

In both cases it should be kept in mind that the vaccination status does not change automatically on the digital COVID certificates, rather a certificate needs to be created again after the health care service provider has entered the information proving recovery (for instance, a positive PCR test result). If there are any questions about the information on the COVID certificate created, you can turn to the user support line of the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre +372 794 3943 (7.00 to 22.00) or from the e-mail abi[at]tehik[dot]ee.

If there is an unavoidable need (due to travel restrictions in certain countries etc.) a doctor can administer a person who has recovered from COVID-19 a second dose as well if the person wishes (the minimum time between the two doses is the interval determined in the summary of vaccine properties).

Do I also get a digital EU certificate if I am vaccinated with a Russian, Chinese or some other coronavirus vaccine?

All vaccines that have received the approval of the European Medicines Agency (i.e. that have an EU marketing authorisation) (Comirnaty / Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen / Johnson & Johnson, Spikevax / Moderna, Vaxzevria / AstraZeneca) are accepted in issuing the European Union (EU) digital COVID certificate. In addition to the above mentioned, Estonia also recognizes all those vaccinations that are recognized by the person's country of origin (including also e.g. Sputnik V, Sputnik Lite, Sinovac, Sinopharm etc.).

Suitable as proof of vaccination are:

  • immunisation passport, a copy of it or a corresponding certificate (including the EU COVID certificate);
  • an officially certified printout of another country's database;
  • immunisation passport that can be requested on paper from the health care service provider.

The document proving vaccination in another country must be either in Latin or Slavonic alphabet, in Estonian, Russian or English and contain the following information:

  • the disease that was vaccinated against;
  • the date of immunisation;
  • the vaccine medicinal product that was used;
  • how many doses the person has been administered;
  • the information on the issuer of the certificate.

What kind of an interval must be left between the two shots of the vaccine?

The manufacturer has determined the intervals between administering the vaccine doses according to the results of clinical studies. The period prescribed by the manufacturer provides the highest efficacy of the vaccine, based on the results of the studies. For this reason it is important to administer the second dose at the prescribed time, generally no sooner than the summary of the vaccine properties suggests. For instance, if a person becomes ill and cannot go the get the second dose at the agreed upon time, the second dose can be administered later but preferably at first opportunity after recovery.

The interval between the two shots by vaccine:

  • the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: 6 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 7 days after receiving the second dose)
  • the Moderna vaccine: 4 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 14 days after receiving the second dose)
  • the AstraZeneca vaccine: 12 weeks (maximum protection is achieved 15 days after receiving the second dose)

Am I allowed to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and tick-borne encephalitis or flu vaccine at the same time?

The vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis (the so-called tick vaccine):

  • The interval between the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis should be 14 days.

Flu vaccine:

  • There in no fixed interval of time that should be left between the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine. The vaccines can be received on the same day as well, but in orde to identify possible reactions, the shots should be administered to different arms.

Is it allowed to work out after vaccination?

If you are feeling good, you may work out. If you get side effects like fever, we recommend refraining from working out.

Why am I asked before vaccination whether I have had the virus?

Having had COVID-19 is not a contraindication to vaccination. According to the current recommendation, the people who have recovered are also being vaccinated with one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The level of antibodies provided by vaccination is tens of times higher than we get just by having the virus. This will also give us longer immunity.

While the vaccine volumes are limited, the preferred target group should be those who have not had COVID-19 within the last 6 months.

If a person has had the virus without being aware of it himself, he will be vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine, which is not dangerous to the organism.

Is it allowed to consume alcohol before or after vaccination?

Consuming alcohol is not a direct contraindication and does not affect the production of antibodies but we do not recommend consuming alcohol either before or after vaccination. Temporary mild side effects, like fever, headache, muscle pain etc., may occur after receiving the coronavirus vaccination and n interaction with the vaccine, the alcohol could make you feel even worse.

Chronic alcoholics may have a weaker immune response.

It is definitely not allowed to go to the vaccination drunk! We ask you to be respectful towards the doctors and nurses that are administering the vaccinations.

Is it allowed to eat before getting vaccinated? Or is it allowed to go without eating first?

It is allowed to eat before vaccination. If you wish, you can also go without eating first. We would rather recommend eating something first so that missing a meal would not make you feel worse overall.

Is it necessary to vaccinate people who have recovered from COVID-19 and when should they be vaccinated?

The state immunoprophylaxis expert committee recommends vaccinating people who have recovered from COVID-19 with one dose on the sixth month after recovery and consider the course of vaccinations completed with this. The committee recommends vaccinating with one dose even if more than six months have passed since recovery from COVID-19, in order to ensure long term protection. Those that have recovered from the disease and then have gotten vaccinated have a 20 times smaller chance of getting infected again.

If you have already received one dose of the vaccine before you got infected, the necessity of a second shot depends on the moment you fell ill:

  • if you got COVID-19 within two weeks of receiving the first dose, the recommendation is to administer one dose of the vaccine on the sixth month after recovery. After this the course of vaccinations is considered completed. Before receiving the second dose, if necessary, a person can prove their infection risk status with a COVID-19 recovery certificate which is valid if less than 180 days have passed since the positive test result (PCR test).
  • if you got COVID-19 more than two weeks after receiving the shot, it is no longer necessary to administer the second shot and the course of vaccinations is considered completed.

In both cases it should be kept in mind that the vaccination status does not change automatically on the digital COVID certificates, rather a certificate needs to be created again after the health care service provider has entered the information proving recovery (for instance, a positive PCR test result). If there are any questions about the information on the COVID certificate created, you can turn to the user support line of the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre +372 794 3943 (7.00 to 22.00) or from the e-mail abi[at]tehik[dot]ee.

If there is an unavoidable need (due to travel restrictions in certain countries etc.) a doctor can administer a person who has recovered from COVID-19 a second dose as well if the person wishes (the minimum time between the two doses is the interval determined in the summary of vaccine properties).

Will the vaccine save me if I am already sick and in a serious condition?

Vaccination will be postponed if the patient is severely ill with COVID-19.

Having had COVID-19 or seropositivity (i.e if there already is a determinable amount of antibodies in the blood) is not a contraindication to vaccination:

People who have had COVID-19 should be vaccinated with only one dose of the vaccine, preferably in the sixth month after recovery. After that the course of vaccination should be considered completed. Even if more than 6 months have passed since recovery, only one dose of the vaccine should be administered in order to ensure long-term protection.

People who get COVID-19 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine will not be administered the second dose and are considered vaccinated for the following six months.

What would the critical mass of vaccinated people have to be for the infection rate in the country to drop to about 10 people per 100,000?

Herd immunity is usually calculated based on the infection multiplier R (how many people will one sick person infect). If R is low, the percentage of vaccinated persons can be low as well. In the case of the coronavirus, the necessary critical mass is estimated to be about 70% of the society. If more severe strains that infect faster (the British strain) or can infect vaccinated people as well (the Brazilian strain) occur, the critical mass of vaccinated people should also be larger. For instance, the R-rate for measles is about 15, thus herd immunity for measles requires 95% of people to be vaccinated.

As children will not be getting vaccinated in the near future, the main onus for reaching herd immunity will fall on responsible adults.

Read more: https://www.ut.ee/et/teadus/teadlaste-vastused-koroonakusimustele (in Estonian).

Why should I let myself get vaccinated?

There are several reasons why you should get vaccinated against the coronavirus:

  • The progression of COVID-19 is unpredictable and it can damage the health and quality of life of both a younger and an older person for a long time: for instace, on average 7% of those infected need hospitalisation, the mortality of patients who end up in a hospital is 14%, many who survive develop permanent health problems.
  • According to the data of Krista Fischer, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board and the professor of Mathematical Statistics at the University of Tartu, vaccinated people have a four times smaller chance of getting infected with the coronavirus than unvaccinated people.
  • All vaccines available in Estonia reduce severe infections and hospitalisations: an unvaccinated person has an 8 times bigger chance of severe progession if they get infected with COVID-19.
  • Those who have recovered from the disease and then gotten vaccinated have a 20 times smaller chance of getting infected again.
  • Every vaccinated person counts -- this way we are proctecting the weakest among us who cannot get vaccinated due to their health condition. These can be our parents, children, friends, aquaintances, or simply people we pass on the street. Vaccinating is caring.
  • The life of a vaccinated person is freer and more comfortable: if you have completed your course of vaccinations you can use the EU digital certificate to conveniently go to events, cultural establishments, restaurants, sports clubs and elsewhere where restrictions are in force.
  • A vaccinated person does not have to stay in self-isolation after entering Estonia or as a close contact (if she is not symptomatic and less than a year has passed from the last dose). Those who are recovered from COVID-19 are released from the requirement to isolate for six months starting from recovery.

Vaccinating against the coronavirus is probably the only sustainable and real solution in order return to the regular order of life. The contribution of each person is important for stopping the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the effectiveness of the vaccines used in Estonia?

One of the most important goals of the COVID-19 vaccines is to avoid severe (requiring hospitalisation) and mortal forms of the disease. All vaccines in use fulfil this goal very effectively, all vaccines offer a practically hundred percent protection from severe forms of the disease.

Vaccination also manages to avoid most of the mild and moderate cases of the COVID-19 disease: the Pfizer vaccine does it at the rate of 95% and the Moderna vaccine at the rate of 94%.

The effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine in avoiding symptomatic disease is 60% (even though it is possible to increase the effectiveness to over 80% by using different dosing schemes).

What are mRNA and DNA vaccines?

With these vaccines, the genetic material of the pathogen is delivered into the organism in the form of either DNA or RNA, and based on the information contained in it, the organism itself will synthesize the part of the pathogen necessary for the creation of immunity, i.e. the antigen. As a rule, this is some protein of the pathogen, in the case of the coronavirus the spike protein on its surface. One way of describing the situation would be that if an organism needs food daily, in the case of one vaccine a ready meal is delivered, in the case of another the organism is delivered a recipe and the organism itself is capable of preparing the food with the help of the recipe.

Compared to a protein, the mRNA is a simpler molecule and thus the production of mRNA is generally faster than the production of vaccines that have been in use up until now. The idea of vaccines based on mRNA is actually already decades old and this type of vaccines have been tested in clinical studies for different infectious diseases. For different reasons, none of them have been taken into use on humans thus far. There is reason to hope that technological development will allow it now.

More information is available here: https://somblogi.wordpress.com/2020/12/22/triin-suvi-ja-pille-saalik-ravimiametist-selgitavad-kuidas-toimivad-meie-kehas-koroonavaktsiini-erinvad-tuubid/

What does it mean that I have to get vaccinated twice? Does the first dose already have some kind of a benefit?

Most of the vaccines we have received thus far require two doses. Even though a certain immune protection occurs even after the first dose, it is not strong enough, which is why it is important to get both shots if the vaccine requires a two-dose course.

The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine course requires only one shot.

Do the vaccines contain unknown ingredients, mercury, microchips, or other suspicious or toxic substances?

Those vaccines that are being processed and reviewed by the European Medicines Agency for receiving a marketing authorisation do not contain mercury particles or other unknown compounds. Finding microchips or other such things in vaccines belongs to the sphere of conspiracy theories. All medicines that receive a marketing authorisation in the European Union are checked, safe, of high quality and effective. All ingredients of the vaccine are listed on the information sheet of the vaccine.

More information on the vaccines can be found from here: https://vaktsineeri.ee/en/covid-19/covid-19-vaccines/

With which vaccine manufacturers has Estonia concluded advance purchase agreements to date?

The joint European Union vaccine portfolio contains the vaccines and vaccine candidates of 8 vaccine manufacturers. The European Commission has signed advance purchase agreements with the following vaccine manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Pfizer/BioNTech, Curevac and Moderna.

Estonia has currently joined the advance purchase agreements with 5 vaccine manufacturers -- AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Pfizer/BioNTech, Curevac and Moderna. Estonia has the possibility of joining the Sanofi advance purchase agreements later.

Additionally, the negotiations are ongoing between the European Commission and the vaccine manufacturer Novavax. At the request of several member states, the negotiations have also been started with the vaccine manufacturer Valneva.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine protect the vaccinated person if the virus mutates?

Viruses mutating is a regular process. All mutations do not lead to reduced efficacy of the developed vaccines but the genetic changes in virus strains are still followed closely in order to evaluate their effect on the vaccines that have been or are being developed.

Are all the approved COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. All the COVID-19 vaccines that have received a marketing authorisation in Europe have been assessed to be sufficiently safe and effective in fighting the coronavirus by the European Medicines Agency. The vaccines are analysed by scientists and authorities whose task it is to guarantee that they would meet all quality, safety, and efficacy requirements in force. The conditions for receiving a marketing authorisation have not been loosened due to the pandemic and no compromises have been made in the evaluation criteria (safety, quality, efficacy).

No vaccine or medicine is ever 100% free of side effects but a marketing authorisation is given to medicines and vaccines that offer a benefit that is bigger than the possible risks (suffering through the disease that the vaccine prevents and the complications are harder or more dangerous to health than the side effect linked to the vaccine). Careful monitoring of the efficacy and safety of the vaccines continues even after the marketing authorisation is issued and the vaccine is taken up.

If you need further counselling in order to make a decision about the COVID-19 vaccination, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. Medical professionals are answering the calls there 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (it is possible to get advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

Read more:

Are all approved COVID-19 vaccines suitable for everybody?

As several different vaccines are on the market and being developed, their characteristics are certain to somewhat differ from each other.

Whether a vaccine is suitable or unsuitable for somebody is noted on the information sheet of the vaccine. Who should be vaccinated and how is best known to the medical worker who carries out the vaccination.

If you need further counselling in order to make a decision about the COVID-19 vaccination, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. Medical professionals are answering the calls there 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (it is possible to get advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

More about the vaccines can be read from here: https://vaktsineeri.ee/en/covid-19/covid-19-vaccines/

 

Side effects

 

Are women who want to have a child, are pregnant or breastfeeding allowed to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Yes. The protection that the vaccine offers against getting sick outweighs all the risks related to getting vaccinated, including for women who are planning to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • if a woman who is pregnant gets infected, it increases the risk of both premature labour and the probability that the woman ends up needing intensive care. Vaccination reduces these risks considerably.
  • if a breastfeeding mother is vaccinated, the child will also obtain somewhat of a protection against COVID-19.

There is no biological reason why corona vaccines should be unsafe for pregnant women, foetuses or children who are being breastfed. This is also supported by animal tests in which multiplied vaccine doses administered to rats did not bring about any direct or indirect harm to pregnancy, the development of the foetus, birth or the postnatal period.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), where the Society of Estonian Gyneacologists is also a member, supports vaccinating pregnant and breastfeeding mothers against COVID-19, accounting also for the risk of infection, the size of the pregnancy, the health condition of the mother etc.

If you need further counselling to make a COVID-19 vaccination decision, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

Do the vaccines cause disruptions in the menstrual cycle?

No connection has currently been found between COVID-19 vaccines and menstrual cycle disruptions but this topic is under constant monitoring: the holders of the marketing authorisations of all four marketed vaccines have to submit monthly reports to the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee of the European Medicines Agency, that also review the menstrual cycle disruption notifications from all the member states of the European Union, data from the rest of the world, information from literature, and assessment of a causal link.

Considering that there have been notifications of menstrual cycle disruptions with both vaccine types (both mRNA and adenovirus vector vaccines), it is probable that they stem from the expected effect of vaccination, i.e. immune response, and not from a specific vaccine component. The coronavirus vaccines have been designed so that they would leave the immune system with the impression that the virus infection is trying to invade. The general post-vaccination reactions -- fever, headache, weakness -- might have the effect of a stressor and cause disruptions in the menstrual cycle.

The State Agency of Medicines has received 48 notifications of different menstrual cycle disruptions that are temporally linked to COVID-19 vaccines (as of September 20, 2021). Generally the cycle has normalised within one or two months at maximum.

Why do I have to wait for 15 minutes after receiving the shot?

On very rare occasions, anaphylactic shock or a severe allergic reaction might occur immediately after vaccination and in that case the doctors can give proper aid right away.

Who should be notified about the side effects of the vaccine?

Side effects may occur after vaccination. The more typical side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are pain and swelling of the injection site, fever, feeling unwell, nausea, muscle pain and joint pain. The symptoms generally pass within a few days.

If a more serious health problem occurs or the problem lasts more than three days after vaccination, contact your family doctor or call the information line 1220 (634 66 30).

The vaccinators have an obligation to inform the Estonian Agency of Medicines of the side effects that have occurred but the patient himself can notify the State Agency of Medicines of the possible side effect with a relevant notification form (in Estonian) if they so wish. The State Agency of Medicines publishes the information (in Estonian) about the notifications they have received about side effects once a week, on Mondays.

If you have additional questions or need further counselling about the coronavirus vaccines, you can consult your family doctor or the Family Doctor's Advice Line by calling 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7, giving advice in both Estonian and Russian (in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

Information about different options for getting vaccinated is given by the web page vaktsineeri.ee and the state helpline 1247 (+372 600 1247 when calling from abroad).

What is the liability of the manufacturer and Estonia if it turns out that the vaccine causes me a health damage that the manufacturer should have foreseen?

The liability for vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed similarly to other medicines. The vaccinator is liable if the vaccinator has breached its obligations in carrying out the vaccination. The holder of the marketing authorisation is liable in the case of a quality defect due to manufacturing, i.e. there has been a breach of the rules of good manufacturing practices (GMP) or the holder of the marketing authorisation has knowingly hidden information. The prerequisite for applying liability is causation between the damages incurred and the vaccine or the vaccination. It is important to establish causation because all health symptoms that present themselves after vaccination might not have to do with the vaccination but might just be concurrent and coincidental.

In Estonia, the notifications about the side effects are collected and evaluated by the State Agency of Medicines. The symptoms that have occurred are treated the best way possible regardless of whether or not they are connected to the vaccine or vaccination. The patient insurance system through which it would be possible to demand compensation for avoidable damages that occurred as a result of the provision of a healthcare service is still being developed in Estonia. The state also has no plans to create a separate system for compensating damages due to vaccines or vaccination. Every person has the right to turn to the courts to protect their interests or demand compensation for damages incurred. Currently it is also possible to turn to the expert committee on the quality of healthcare services for an expert opinion on whether good clinical practices or the relevant instructions were followed in the course of providing the healthcare service that caused the damages.

Do the COVID-19 vaccines have side effects?

All the COVID-19 vaccines that have received a marketing authorisation in Europe have been assessed to be sufficiently safe and effective in fighting the coronavirus by the European Medicines Agency EMA but, as with all medicines, side effects might occur with the coronavirus vaccines as well.

The more common mild side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are pain and inflammation of the injection site, headache, fever, feeling unwell, nausea, muscle pain, and joint pain. The symptoms generally disappear in a few days.

Allergic (hypersensitivity) reactions are considered to be severe side effects that occur very rarely. An allergic or anaphylactic reaction generally occurs within a short period of time after vaccination. That is why it is necessary to remain under the observation of a health care worker for at least another 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine shot -- the vaccine administrator is always prepared for that eventuality with first aid kits.

All known side effects that can be connected to the vaccine are written down on the information sheet of the vaccine packaging. If a more serious health problem occurs after vaccination or the problem lasts longer than three days, contact your family doctor or call 1220 (or 634 66 30).

If you need counselling on the COVID-19 vaccines, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7, giving advice in both Estonian and Russian (in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00). An overview of different vaccination options are given by the web page vaktsineeri.ee or the state helpline 1247.


The State Agency of Medicines publishes the information (in Estonian) about the notifications they have received about side effects once a week, on Mondays.

 

Travelling to Estonia – foreigners

 

Does the obligation to isolate for ten days not extend to people who enter Estonia and can present a vaccination certificate or do vaccinated persons also still have to do a COVID test?

Vaccinated persons are released from the obligations to self-isolate and test.

The period of self-isolation can be shortened with a COVID test. If a person has taken along a rapid COVID test when leaving Estonia and does that 48h before returning to Estonia, would that be accepted?

The test must be administered by a health care service provider.

In the case of children aged 12 to 18 who are arriving with a vaccinated parent or companion from a European country where the infection rate is higher than 75, who may be the companion -- does it also include a grandparent, teacher or coach?

From what number does a group start?

The exceptions regarding minors that went in force on July 19, 2021 were enacted due to the recommendation of the European Council. According to this recommendation, in order to ensure the unity of families travelling together, minors who are travelling with a parent or parents, or another person accompanying them should not be obligated to remain in quarantine/self-isolation if the person accompanying them does not have that obligation, e.g. because the latter have a certificate of vaccination or recovery. Additionally, children under the age of 12 should be released from the requirement to do a SARS-CoV-2 infection test in order to be able to travel.

This means that the goal in granting children under the age of 18 exceptions from the obligation of self-isolation and the testing obligations related to that is to ensure the unity of families, which is why minors who are travelling with a coach or a teacher are subject to the general requirements upon arrival in Estonia.

Do minors travelling with their parent or an authorised companion need to stay in self-isolation upon arriving to Estonia from risk countries?

The tables with the current infection rates of countries and additional information can be found on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If the child arrives in Estonia with a parent, a guardian, or an authorised companion who is not subject to the requirement to stay in self-isolation after crossing the border (i.e. the parent/companion is vaccinated, or no more than 180 days have passed since a positive PCR test or a diagnosis proving recovery from COVID-19 and she is not symptomatic).

If the child travels with two parents, at least one of whom is released from the requirement to isolate, the same release also applies to the child (does not apply to groups of minors travelling together).

  • A child under the age of 12 who is not symptomatic can participate in school and hobby activities without restrictions (does not apply to groups of minors travelling together, e.g. sports or excursion groups).

European Union member states, Schengen countries and third countries in the European Union list where the 14 day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 75 (the so-called yellow and red countries):

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated are released from the requirement to self-isolate if they are arriving from an European Union or Schengen country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican, and have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arriving or have done a test immediately after arriving in Estonia and the test results were negative. Until the negative test results come in, it is obligatory to stay in one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated are released from the requirement to self-isolate if they are arriving from a third country in the European Union list (see second table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arriving or have done a test immediately after arriving in Estonia and the test results were negative. Until the negative test results come in, it is obligatory to stay in one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.

Third countries not on the European Union list:

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated and arrive from third countries not on the European Union list (see third table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and are the citizens of the European Union, Schengen countries, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican may enter Estonia. In order to be released from the requirement to self-isolate it is required to do another SARS-CoV-2 test immediately after arriving in Estonia, the result of which also have to be negative. Until the results of the test done immediately after arrival are known, there is an obligation to stay at one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated and who are citizens of third countries not on the European Union list (see third table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and are arriving from these countries may enter Estonia if they have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arrival, the results of which are negative. In order to be released from the requirement to self-isolate it is required to do another SARS-CoV-2 test immediately after arriving in Estonia, the result of which also have to be negative. Until the results of the test done immediately after arrival are known, there is an obligation to stay at one's place of residence or permanent place of stay;

Useful information: if the SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test done at a health care service provider has turned out to be positive and is immediately followed by a PCR repeat test with a negative result, the PCR test result is the one that counts.

If the child arrives in Estonia with a parent, a guardian, or an authorised companion who is not subject to the requirement to stay in self-isolation after crossing the border (i.e. the parent/companion is vaccinated, or no more than 180 days have passed since a positive PCR test or a diagnosis proving recovery from COVID-19 and she is not symptomatic).

European Union member states, Schengen countries and third countries on the European Union list where the 14 day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 75 (the so-called yellow and red states), and third countries not on the European Union list:

  • Children under the age of 18 and young people turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year who are not vaccinated themselves and who are not symptomatic are allowed to go to school, kindergarten and child care, and participate in hobby and training activities that are attended by the same persons that participate in the academic and educational activities (i.e. the number of contacts is not extended) on the first day after returning from a trip. On the third day the child needs to do a coronavirus PCR test that is free of charge for minors (booking information: koroonatestimine.ee). It is important to keep in mind that even if the test is negative, the child cannot participate in any other activities than the ones mentioned above within 10 days of crossing the border. If the test done on the third day turns out to be positive, the child must stay home in self-isolation and the prescribed order of dealing with close contacts is initiated at child care institution where he was.

  • A child under the age of 18 also has to stay away from educational activities if he becomes symptomatic before the testing done on the third day or if the symptoms occur after the negative test done on the third day. In that case it is necessary to contact the family doctor. If the test is done later than on the third day, e.g. on the fifth day, this means that the child can participate in academic and educational activities for the first three days after returning from a trip but must stay at home during days 4 and 5 until the test gets done and the negative result comes in.

  • A child under the age of 12 who does not participate in educational and child care activities does not have to do a coronavirus PCR test but does have to stay in self-isolation for ten days after crossing the border.

If the minor himself is vaccinated or no more than 180 days have passed since a coronavirus PCR test proving recovery from COVID-19 or a diagnosis, and he is not symptomatic

  • The child does not have to test or stay in self-isolation upon crossing the border but can participate in school work and different activities, taking into consideration the control measures currently in force in the country (e.g. dispersion, presenting the COVID-certificate depending on age etc.).

All travellers arriving in Estonia by airplane (including children whose information is submitted by a parent) have to fill out a traveller's questionnaire (in Estonian, Russian or English). This can be done up to three days before arriving in Estonia. Travellers arriving by ship, bus or car have an obligation to fill out the traveller's questionnaire if they are arriving from a country that has been marked as red in the table or a country equated to that.

Does a person coming to Estonia for study or work have to do a corona test, and when?

Starting from July 12, the testing requirement prior to arriving in Estonia applies to entry from those third countries that do not belong to the so-called European Union green list. The list of countries belonging to the green list has been published on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://vm.ee/en/information-countries-and-self-isolation-requirements-passengers. A PCR test no more than 72 hours or, as a new possibility, an antigen rapid test no more than 48 hours prior to entering Estonia needs to be done and a certificate on the negative results needs to be presented by all citizens of third countries not on the green list who have not completed the course of vaccinations and who are coming to Estonia to work, study, join their family, or based on a special permit.

If a person arriving in Estonia from a third country to study or work here comes from a country or travels through a country that has not been listed on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or is "red", that person must remain in self-isolation, which means that their employer or educational institution ensures:

  • the employee's or student's transport and possibility to stay in self-isolation (10 days) from their arrival in Estonia, during which they are not allowed to begin their work or studies;
  • the employee or student can reduce the 10-day self-isolation by coronavirus testing immediately after arrival in Estonia and repeat testing no sooner than on the 6th day of staying in Estonia;

The coronavirus test is not obligatory to any other person arriving in Estonia but doing it would make it possible to reduce the 10-day self-isolation requirement and it is recommended in any case. The obligation to restrict the freedom of movement of a person travelling to Estonia depends on whether the European country where the person is coming from has a coronavirus infection rate that is higher than 75. If the rate is lower, there is no obligation to restrict one's movements; if it is higher, there is such an obligation. If the point of departure was outside Europe, the restriction of movements generally applies.

If the point of departure is a European country where the infection rate of the past 14 days is higher than 75 but no higher than 200 per 100,000 inhabitants and a negative SARS-CoV-2 test was done before arriving in Estonia or will be done immediately upon arrival in Estonia, a person does not have to remain in self-isolation. The person has to stay in their place of residence or permanent place of stay until the negative test results come in.

Information on states and movement restrictions for people arriving from Europe is located on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://vm.ee/en/information-countries-and-self-isolation-requirements-passengers. The list is renewed every Friday, valid from the following Monday. A person who arrives from an at-risk country and does not do the tests has to restrict his movements for 10 days.

The moment of doing the test depends on several factors:

  • The citizens, residents, resident permit and long-term visa holders of Estonia and the European Economic Area may do the first test up to 72 hours before arrival. In Estonia it is possible to do the second test no sooner than on the sixth day after the first test was done abroad. If the results of both tests are negative, the person is released from the 10 day self-isolation obligation.
  • Persons who have not done the test up to 72 hours before arriving in Estonia may do the first test in Estonia immediately after entering the country, and the second test no sooner than six days after doing the first test. The 10 day self-isolation may be ended before the deadline if the results of both tests are negative.
  • The citizens of third countries arriving from a third country (that is not on the list) who come here to work or study must do both tests in Estonia. However, if the abovementioned citizens are, for instance, coming to visit a relative who lives in Estonia, they may do the test 72 hours before arriving in Estonia.

There is no obligation to do the test if a person has had COVID-19 and has been declared recovered by a doctor within six months before arrival, or if a person is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the course of vaccinations was finished no more than 12 months earlier.

Staying in self-isolation means that the person is not allowed to leave their place of residence within 10 days, except on the order of a healthcare worker or a police official, or for unavoidable trips. For instance, it is allowed to leave home if your life is in danger, or you need medical aid, have to renew your food stocks, buy essential goods or medicines, or to spend time in fresh air. In all these cases you need to avoid contact with other people. For this reason it is not allowed to go to work or to a crowded forest path. It is, however, allowed to be outside, for instance to go for a run or a bike ride, if you can do this without coming into contact with others.

Which foreign nationals are allowed to enter Estonia as an exception?

As an exception, the following asymptomatic foreign nationals may enter Estonia:

  • employees at a foreign diplomatic representation or a consular office in Estonia, their family members, foreign nationals arriving to Estonia in the framework of international military cooperation,

  • persons who are directly involved with transporting goods or raw materials, including loading of goods or raw materials,

  • members of a foreign delegation arriving in Estonia for a work meeting at the invitation of a state authority or local government authority,

  • providers of healthcare or other services necessary for solving the emergency situation,

  • persons who are directly involved in the international carriage of goods or passengers, including crew members serving on an international means of transport and persons performing repairs, warranty, or maintenance services on a means of transport,

  • persons who provide services to groups of passengers and are directly involved in the provision of passenger transport services,

  • persons whose purpose of arrival in Estonia is to ensure the performance of an essential service,

  • persons whose arrival in Estonia is related to the maintenance, repair, warranty or information and communication technology of equipment of an enterprise operating in Estonia, where this is necessary to ensure the operation of the enterprise,

  • persons who are immediately passing through the territory of Estonia in order to reach their country of residence,

  • persons whose direct descendant or ascendant, relative or spouse is an Estonian national, holder of an Estonian residence permit or the right of residence (a direct descendant is a child or a (great)grandchild and their descendants, direct ascendants are a parent(s) or grandparent(s)),

  • foreign nationals who have received a special permit to enter the country from the Police and Border Guard Board. The application must be sent to ppa[at]politsei[dot]ee. The application for permission to cross the border in exceptional circumstances can be found on the website of the Police and Border Guard Board. The purpose of the special application is to allow third-country nationals to apply for crossing the external borders, for the purpose of entering Estonia under special circumstances for family reasons, such as funeral, wedding, illness of a family member, an indispensable meeting with a family member. A foreigner allowed to enter Estonia on the basis of a special application is subject to a general restriction of freedom of movement and must not leave their permanent place of residence or stay within 10 days. The application for permission to cross the border in exceptional circumstances can be found on the website of the Police and Border Guard Board: (in Estonian).

  • The person arriving in Estonia can complete traveller's questionnaire 72 hours before their arrival in Estonia. This will make the border crossing faster, and they do not have to wait in line in order to fill in a paper declaration.

Possibilities for testing for coronavirus upon arrival to Estonia.

  • As of September 1, people returning to Estonia from countries at-risk from COVID-19 can get tested at airports and harbours in order to reduce their self-isolation period so they can return to work earlier. Testing is free of charge for Estonian residents, and foreign nationals can make a card payment on-site. The test can be done at the Port of Tallinn, Terminals A and D for foot passengers, and at the Tallinn Airport based on a letter of referral, which will be made out on the spot.

  • People arriving from an at-risk country by train or by road transportation can book their test as a person coming from a trip. Estonia tests people with symptoms as a priority. Therefore, the waiting list will be 1-2 days, so it would be recommended to book your test in advance when you know your time of arrival.

  • The test can be done in public testing places across Estonia.

  • Foreign nationals can do a paid coronavirus test to reduce their self-isolation period. To book their testing time, they must call the phone numbers of the service providers who offer paid testing.

  • Until the results of the test are returned, the person must be in complete self-isolation. Negative results are notified to the person via text message, when the results are positive, the person will receive a phone call. The results are also accessible when entering the Patient Portal digilugu.ee with an ID card. A second test must be performed no earlier than 6 days after the result of the first test, and if it is negative, it is possible to return to regular activities. This means that after two negative tests, the person is not subject to the 10 day movement restriction that applies to all those who arrive from at-risk countries and do not do the test. The public testing call centre will call the person tested in order to arrange the time of the second test. A country is considered to be at-risk if the coronavirus infection rate there is 75 cases per 100,000 people or higher.

Additional information: https://www.terviseamet.ee/en, National Crisis Information Phone No: +372 600 1247.

Starting from February 2, there is a derogation from having to self-isolate as a close contact for people who have been vaccinated against or had the coronavirus within the last six months. As an exception, the requirement to stay in a place of residence or a permanent place of stay for 10 days, as well as the testing requirements do not apply to a person who crosses the border into Estonia and has had the coronavirus within the past six months and been declared recovered by a doctor, or has been vaccinated against the coronavirus within the past six months. This person must still adhere to the restrictions in force in Estonia and follow all measures that have been enacted to stop the spread of the virus.

From which countries is it possible to come to Estonia to study or work?

Coming to work or study in Estonia is possible from all the countries in the world. The requirement for a mandatory self-isolation applies to arrivals from a country that is "red" according to the Estonian system.

Could a person of Russian nationality working in Estonia but living in Russia (incl. people of Estonian and Russian dual citizenship), be able to cross the Estonian-Russian border for work purposes, as an exception?

When crossing the border back and forth, the requirements and self-isolation rules of the states need to be taken into account.

Persons with Russian residence permits or Russian citizenship residing on the territory of the European Union may travel to Russia once a month. You can enter Russia under exceptional circumstances, information of which can be obtained from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When travelling to Russia, you must present the result of the coronavirus test or take a test and observe the 10-day self-isolation obligation.

Travelling from Russia to Estonia is permitted if you come to Estonia to work or study, and if you have no symptoms of the disease. When entering Estonia to work or study, 10-day self- isolation period must be observed, which means that the employer or educational institution ensures:

  • transportation for the employee or the student, and the possibility to remain in self-isolation (10 days) as of the date of arrival to Estonia

  • the employee or the student tests for the coronavirus immediately upon arrival and re-tests not earlier than the 10th day of their arrival in Estonia

  • the employee shall not enter into employment or commence their studies during the first 6 days from arrival to Estonia

  • the employee may start working and studying on the 11th day of their stay, provided that their second coronavirus test is negative.

Starting from July 12 a test prior to entering Estonia is required from enterting from those third countries that do not belong to the so-called green list of the European Union. The list of countries belonging to the green list has published on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://vm.ee/en/information-countries-and-self-isolation-requirements-passengers.

A PCR test no more than 72 hours or, as a new possibility, an antigen rapid test no more than 48 hours prior to entering Estonia needs to be done and a certificate on the negative results needs to be presented by all citizens of third countries not on the green list who have not completed the course of vaccinations and who are coming to Estonia to work, study, join their family or based on a special permit.

Additional information on crossing the Estonian-Russian state border is available on the website of the Police and Border Guard Board: https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation, and on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reisi Targalt website: https://reisitargalt.vm.ee/riigid/venemaa/.

Information on the conditions and exceptions to travel to Russia is available from the Russian Embassy in Estonia, on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and on the hotlines: +7 (495) 587 8860, +7 (499) 244 1977, +7 (499) 244 1988, +7 (499) 244 2847.

 

Restrictions in education, youth work, hobby and sports activities

 

The obligation to check does not extend to the activities of disabled persons and thus there is an obligation to wear a mask. If a person volunteers to present a COVID certificate or is tested, is he released from the obligation to wear a mask while using

the service?

The exceptions to disabled persons apply in sports, training, hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training. They also apply to participating in sports competitions and events.

If, for instance, the person responsible for the activity is training disabled persons, he can choose whether he checks the certificates of all individuals (including disabled persons) and then the participants are released from the obligation to wear a mask.

The other option is to not check the certificates of only those who belong in the group of disabled persons and then there is an obligation to wear a mask, even if five people out of ten have the certificate. In any case, the choice of approach should be made before the service is provided.

The obligation to wear a mask does not extend to children under the age of 12 and to persons for whom it is not possible to wear a mask for health reasons (e.g. breathing difficulties, certain mental disorders, allergies) or reasonable for other substantial considerations, e.g. special needs or disability. The person should still consider whether health reasons rule out all options of covering one's nose and mouth or whether it would still be possible to reduce the infection risk with some suitable alternative.

A mask does not have to be worn by people with special needs, e.g. if it is not possible for the person to wear a mask as required or put a mask on and take it off by himself due to a mental disorder or a physical aberration. A mask does not have to be worn by a person accompanying a hard-of-hearing person or an individual who is communicating with a person who needs to read from lips, read facial expressions, needs to hear clear speech etc. to communicate if wearing a mask complicates that.

If there are no above described health complaints related to the disability, a mask should also be worn in order to participate in the activity.

If the local government, consumer protection, local police or other authority has a false interpretation of the obligations of the parties, where should the entrepreneur or an organisation representing entrepreneurs turn to for solving the situation?

The activities of all law enforcement bodies can be challenged or contested in court. In case of questions or a need to specify, both an entrepreneur and a private person always have the option of pre-emptively turning to the state helpline 1247 or writing to covid19[at]mkm[dot]ee.

Is dispersion obligation the same as the 2+2 rule?

Dispersion is not the 2+2 rule but guidance to keep a safe distance with each other in a public indoor space. A public indoor space is a room that can be entered by anyone (this also includes public transport).

Starting from October, 2021: People have to be and move around in a public indoor space in a dispersed manner. The restriction does not apply to families or in cases where it is not possible to ensure these conditions reasonably.

The person responsible for the activities (i.e. the trader, the service provider, the organiser of the event, the catering establishment etc.) ensures, there would not be an unreasonable amount of people in the space or room. The Government order does not prescribe an exact distance -- ensuring dispersion means that groups of persons (e.g. families) or individuals should not be too close to each other or in direct contact.

Close contacts between people who are not usually together increase the probability of the virus spreading.

Which special needs release a person from an obligation to present a COVID certificate?

  • If a person cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons i.e. she has a contraindication to vaccination (e.g. she has anaphylaxis or a strong allergic reaction to some ingredient of the vaccine, has had capillary leak syndrome in the past etc.), it is possible for her to use a certificate of negative test result in order to participate in activities. Contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination is documented by a family doctor or a treating specialist with the international disease classification (IDC-10) code intended for that and that is the basis for free testing at a health care service provider with a referral from a family doctor or the Family Doctor's Advice (1220 or +372 634 6630). If testing is organised in some other way than at a health care service provider, it is a paid service.

  • If a person can get neither vaccinated nor tested due to medical reasons, a family doctor or a treating specialist can issue a certificate based on which she can participate in activities. It has to be taken into account that the certificate is valid nationally, and in other countries the restrictions and requirements in force there should be adhered to. If a person travelling has a very rare (and medically proven) combined contraindication to both testing and vaccination, she has to stay in a 10 day self-isolation after arriving from a risk country. It is very strongly recommended that they also use personal protective equipment, e.g. an FFP2 or FFP3 respirator, when participating in activities.

  • If a person cannot get tested due to medical reasons (e.g. he has a specific facial trauma), it is possible to get vaccinated and participate in activities with a COVID immunisation certificate (either the paper based immunisation passport or a digital certificate).

Starting from October 25, 2021:

  • If a person cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, i.e. vaccination is contraindicated to him (e.g. he has anaphylaxis or a strong allergic reaction to an ingredient of the vaccine, a previously occurred capillary leak syndrome etc.), they can use a certificate issued by a doctor to participate in activities. A contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination is established by a doctor who documents it with an international disease classification (ICD-10) code, on the basis of which she can issue a paper certificate.

It should be noted that it is only possible to use the abovementioned doctor's certificate to participate in activities within the country. In other countries you have to act according to the restrictions and requirements in force there. People who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons are urgently recommended to also use personal protective equipment, e.g. a FFP2 or FFP3 respirator, while participating in activities, in order to reduce the infection risk.

What must be kept in mind when doing the rapid tests?

The following needs to be considered:

Rapid tests that are valid for 48 hours:

  • antigen rapid tests that are used have been approved in the EU and meant for professional use
  • are done by a health care service provider, generally in their own medical centres, special testing locations (e.g. Confido's 17 locations across Estonia, Corrigo in Ida-Virumaa) or the user himself at a holder of an activity licence for general pharmacy services according to the instructions of the Health Board
  • the test results are entered into the health information system
  • a person gets a certificate to prove a negative result
  • a person pays for the service herself

Rapid tests that are valid only for the specific event, for providing a service on the spot

  • antigen rapid tests that are used have been approved in the EU
  • the tests are done by the visitor herself, on the spot, upon arriving to an event or to consume the service
  • doing the test is guided by a vaccinated person responsible for the activity; there is also a possibility to hire a health care service provider
  • an operator may charge for the service

If the test result is positive or unclear, the person must stay in isolation and contact their family doctor to confirm the diagnosis with a PCR test.

More information in the Health Board's instructions for administering rapid tests. (in Estonian).

Starting from October 25, 2021: A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof in Estonia for participating in activities taking place in public indoor spaces. The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

Restrictions in force in education, sports, youth work, hobby activities and culture

The same rules apply to activities taking place both indoors and outdoors.

In sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training; at sports competitions and sports and exercise events; in saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; at public meetings and events (including in the theatre, at the cinema, at a concert, incl. a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition facilities; at entertainment services all participants, regardless of the number of people, who are older than 18 years of age must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test. Infection risk status must also be proven if the activity or event takes place at a location where services are provided, i.e. when a catering establishment is rented out or a theatre performance is performed on order at a theatre.

COVID certificates do not need to be checked at unrestricted outdoor events (for instance, events that take place in one neighbourhood of a town, where people are in constant movement and it is not possible to determine an activity with a certain location and number of participants).

The organisers have an obligation to check the validity of the COVID certificates. If there is a substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

Indoors, in addition to checking the COVID certificates and tests, it is important to ensure that people are dispersed and disinfection requirements are followed, and other measures aiming to stop the spread of the coronavirus are followed according to the instructions of the Health Board (in Estonian).

If the person responsible for the activities is checking the infection risk status of persons, up tp 6000 persons may participate in the events and activities indoors and 12000 persons outdoors, provided that the abovementioned order is followed.

Starting from October 25, 2021: In sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; at sports competitions and sports and exercise events; in saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; at public meetings and events (including in theatre, in cinema, at a concert, including a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition venues; at entertainment services all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of participants, have to present a valid COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. If vaccination is contraindicated to a person for health reasons, they need to present a corresponding medical certificate in order to participate.

 

Continuous education

 

The obligation to check does not extend to the activities of disabled persons and thus there is an obligation to wear a mask. If a person volunteers to present a COVID certificate or is tested, is he released from the obligation to wear a mask while using

the service?

The exceptions to disabled persons apply in sports, training, hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training. They also apply to participating in sports competitions and events.

If, for instance, the person responsible for the activity is training disabled persons, he can choose whether he checks the certificates of all individuals (including disabled persons) and then the participants are released from the obligation to wear a mask.

The other option is to not check the certificates of only those who belong in the group of disabled persons and then there is an obligation to wear a mask, even if five people out of ten have the certificate. In any case, the choice of approach should be made before the service is provided.

The obligation to wear a mask does not extend to children under the age of 12 and to persons for whom it is not possible to wear a mask for health reasons (e.g. breathing difficulties, certain mental disorders, allergies) or reasonable for other substantial considerations, e.g. special needs or disability. The person should still consider whether health reasons rule out all options of covering one's nose and mouth or whether it would still be possible to reduce the infection risk with some suitable alternative.

A mask does not have to be worn by people with special needs, e.g. if it is not possible for the person to wear a mask as required or put a mask on and take it off by himself due to a mental disorder or a physical aberration. A mask does not have to be worn by a person accompanying a hard-of-hearing person or an individual who is communicating with a person who needs to read from lips, read facial expressions, needs to hear clear speech etc. to communicate if wearing a mask complicates that.

If there are no above described health complaints related to the disability, a mask should also be worn in order to participate in the activity.

What rules need to be observed when providing adult education and refresher training?

In hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training, all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of people, must present a COVID certificate for vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test. Infection risk status need to also be proven if the activity or event takes place at a location of service provision, for instance if a theatre hall or a conference room is rented out for a private event.

The restriction applies to sports, training, youth work, hobby activities, informal education, refresher training, as well as sports competitions and sports and exercise events, public saunas, spas, pools, water parks and swimming facilities, public meetings and events, conferences, theatre, concerts, cinema, museums, exhibition venues, the provision of entertainment services, catering establishments. The set requirements are not applied to the activities of disabled persons, the activities connected to the military protection of the country and internal security.

The organisers have an obligation to check the validity of COVID certificates. If there is substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

Indoors, in addition to checking the COVID certificates, it is also important to ensure dispersion and the following of disinfection requirements, and to follow other measures aiming to stop the spread of the coronavirus in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

Events and activities where the participants' negative test results, recovery from COVID-19 or completion of a course of COVID-19 vaccination is checked are allowed to have up to 6000 participants indoors and up to 12000 participants outdoors. Starting from October 25, 2021: only adults who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 may participate in checked activities. This means that in hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training, all participants over the age of 18 have to present a valid COVID certificate proving recovery or vaccination, regardless of the number of participants. If vaccination is contraindicated to a person for health reasons, he can only participate in activities with a corresponding medical certificate. Simply presenting a negative test result is not sufficient anymore.

As an exception, it is not obligatory to present a COVID certificate in the activities of disabled persons, activities connected to the military defence of the country or internal security, and in already started refresher trainings and exams related to them that are necessary in order to receive fixed term professional certificates required for working in certain positions (see kutsekoda.ee (in Estonian)). The latter means the professional and refresher training for people who work in the fields of shipping, aviation and offshore energy, but also drivers (including the ADR training for drivers transporting a hazardous load). It is still necessary to follow general principles like the dispersion of participants and reduction of contacts, wearing protective masks and following disinfection requirements even in the mentioned exceptional cases.

 

Travelling to Estonia - Estonian citizens and residents

 

The period of self-isolation can be shortened with a COVID test. If a person has taken along a rapid COVID test when leaving Estonia and does that 48h before returning to Estonia, would that be accepted?

The test must be administered by a health care service provider.

In the case of children aged 12 to 18 who are arriving with a vaccinated parent or companion from a European country where the infection rate is higher than 75, who may be the companion -- does it also include a grandparent, teacher or coach?

From what number does a group start?

The exceptions regarding minors that went in force on July 19, 2021 were enacted due to the recommendation of the European Council. According to this recommendation, in order to ensure the unity of families travelling together, minors who are travelling with a parent or parents, or another person accompanying them should not be obligated to remain in quarantine/self-isolation if the person accompanying them does not have that obligation, e.g. because the latter have a certificate of vaccination or recovery. Additionally, children under the age of 12 should be released from the requirement to do a SARS-CoV-2 infection test in order to be able to travel.

This means that the goal in granting children under the age of 18 exceptions from the obligation of self-isolation and the testing obligations related to that is to ensure the unity of families, which is why minors who are travelling with a coach or a teacher are subject to the general requirements upon arrival in Estonia.

Do minors travelling with their parent or an authorised companion need to stay in self-isolation upon arriving to Estonia from risk countries?

The tables with the current infection rates of countries and additional information can be found on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If the child arrives in Estonia with a parent, a guardian, or an authorised companion who is not subject to the requirement to stay in self-isolation after crossing the border (i.e. the parent/companion is vaccinated, or no more than 180 days have passed since a positive PCR test or a diagnosis proving recovery from COVID-19 and she is not symptomatic).

If the child travels with two parents, at least one of whom is released from the requirement to isolate, the same release also applies to the child (does not apply to groups of minors travelling together).

  • A child under the age of 12 who is not symptomatic can participate in school and hobby activities without restrictions (does not apply to groups of minors travelling together, e.g. sports or excursion groups).

European Union member states, Schengen countries and third countries in the European Union list where the 14 day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 75 (the so-called yellow and red countries):

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated are released from the requirement to self-isolate if they are arriving from an European Union or Schengen country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican, and have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arriving or have done a test immediately after arriving in Estonia and the test results were negative. Until the negative test results come in, it is obligatory to stay in one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated are released from the requirement to self-isolate if they are arriving from a third country in the European Union list (see second table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arriving or have done a test immediately after arriving in Estonia and the test results were negative. Until the negative test results come in, it is obligatory to stay in one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.

Third countries not on the European Union list:

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated and arrive from third countries not on the European Union list (see third table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and are the citizens of the European Union, Schengen countries, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican may enter Estonia. In order to be released from the requirement to self-isolate it is required to do another SARS-CoV-2 test immediately after arriving in Estonia, the result of which also have to be negative. Until the results of the test done immediately after arrival are known, there is an obligation to stay at one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated and who are citizens of third countries not on the European Union list (see third table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and are arriving from these countries may enter Estonia if they have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arrival, the results of which are negative. In order to be released from the requirement to self-isolate it is required to do another SARS-CoV-2 test immediately after arriving in Estonia, the result of which also have to be negative. Until the results of the test done immediately after arrival are known, there is an obligation to stay at one's place of residence or permanent place of stay;

Useful information: if the SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test done at a health care service provider has turned out to be positive and is immediately followed by a PCR repeat test with a negative result, the PCR test result is the one that counts.

If the child arrives in Estonia with a parent, a guardian, or an authorised companion who is not subject to the requirement to stay in self-isolation after crossing the border (i.e. the parent/companion is vaccinated, or no more than 180 days have passed since a positive PCR test or a diagnosis proving recovery from COVID-19 and she is not symptomatic).

European Union member states, Schengen countries and third countries on the European Union list where the 14 day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 75 (the so-called yellow and red states), and third countries not on the European Union list:

  • Children under the age of 18 and young people turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year who are not vaccinated themselves and who are not symptomatic are allowed to go to school, kindergarten and child care, and participate in hobby and training activities that are attended by the same persons that participate in the academic and educational activities (i.e. the number of contacts is not extended) on the first day after returning from a trip. On the third day the child needs to do a coronavirus PCR test that is free of charge for minors (booking information: koroonatestimine.ee). It is important to keep in mind that even if the test is negative, the child cannot participate in any other activities than the ones mentioned above within 10 days of crossing the border. If the test done on the third day turns out to be positive, the child must stay home in self-isolation and the prescribed order of dealing with close contacts is initiated at child care institution where he was.

  • A child under the age of 18 also has to stay away from educational activities if he becomes symptomatic before the testing done on the third day or if the symptoms occur after the negative test done on the third day. In that case it is necessary to contact the family doctor. If the test is done later than on the third day, e.g. on the fifth day, this means that the child can participate in academic and educational activities for the first three days after returning from a trip but must stay at home during days 4 and 5 until the test gets done and the negative result comes in.

  • A child under the age of 12 who does not participate in educational and child care activities does not have to do a coronavirus PCR test but does have to stay in self-isolation for ten days after crossing the border.

If the minor himself is vaccinated or no more than 180 days have passed since a coronavirus PCR test proving recovery from COVID-19 or a diagnosis, and he is not symptomatic

  • The child does not have to test or stay in self-isolation upon crossing the border but can participate in school work and different activities, taking into consideration the control measures currently in force in the country (e.g. dispersion, presenting the COVID-certificate depending on age etc.).

All travellers arriving in Estonia by airplane (including children whose information is submitted by a parent) have to fill out a traveller's questionnaire (in Estonian, Russian or English). This can be done up to three days before arriving in Estonia. Travellers arriving by ship, bus or car have an obligation to fill out the traveller's questionnaire if they are arriving from a country that has been marked as red in the table or a country equated to that.

Is it possible to arrive in Estonia without having been tested before the trip, and then do the test upon arrival?

It is possible to be tested when arriving in Estonia, regardless of country of departure. So, if testing is not possible before departure, the test can be done in Estonia.

If the test has to be done up to 72 hours before arrival, will the person travelling need to pay for the test themselves? Will this amount be refunded later?

If testing in a foreign country is for a fee, then this fee will not be refunded when the person arrives in Estonia. No changes have been made in Estonia regarding the payment for testing. You can get tested at the port and the airport immediately upon arrival, and the test will be free with the Estonian ID-code.

From which third countries is it possible to travel to Estonia at the moment?

You can find the latest information about the countries from where you can travel to Estonia at the moment and about the movement restrictions applicable to arrivals [on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] (https://vm.ee/et/teave-riikide-ja-liikumispiirangute-kohta-eestisse-saabujatele).

Information about countries outside the European Union whose residents are allowed to enter Estonia, including for purposes of tourism, is found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Estonian citizens and residents and their family members can always enter Estonia, regardless of their country of departure.

 

EU digital COVID vaccination certificate

 

What is the basis for determining that the vaccination certificate is valid for one year in Estonia?

The current decision is based on contemporary scientific research. As soon as results from further studies emerge, the deadline will also be amended if necessary.

I have created my COVID certificate before June 10, 2021. Will I be able to travel in Europe with it?

Vaccination certificates created in the Patient Portal before June 10, 2021 should be replaced in the Patient Portal with certificates created according to the new standard. For that, a new certificate needs to be created for oneself in the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee). The new certificate automatically meets the new requirements. It should be kept in mind that the certificate is not a basis for travelling to a foreign country but, depending on the requirements of the destination country, can grant a release from the restrictions that the country has enacted (e.g. self-isolation). The destination country's requirements for entry/determining the isolation obligations must be taken into account when travelling. Additionally, the restrictions that transport companies have set for their transit passengers must be considered.

How long after the second shot does it take for the certificate to go into force, as such, and is the schedule same for all the vaccines?

In Estonia this period is different for different vaccines. The maximum protection is considered achieved according to the manufacturer's instructions -- 7 calendar days after the second vaccine dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine, 15 calendar days after the second vaccine dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine Vaxzevria, 14 calendar days after the second vaccine shot for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and 14 calendar days after the single vaccine dose for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

What kind of data does the digital COVID vaccination certificate contain?

In addition to personal identification data it contains the number of the certificate; the disease against which the vaccination was performed; the active substance; the immune preparation; the holder of the vaccine's marketing authorisation; the number of required doses; the date and country of immunisation. It also contains the information on the issuer of the certificate.

Do I also get a digital EU certificate if I am vaccinated with a Russian, Chinese or some other coronavirus vaccine?

All vaccines that have received the approval of the European Medicines Agency (i.e. that have an EU marketing authorisation) (Comirnaty / Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen / Johnson & Johnson, Spikevax / Moderna, Vaxzevria / AstraZeneca) are accepted in issuing the European Union (EU) digital COVID certificate. In addition to the above mentioned, Estonia also recognizes all those vaccinations that are recognized by the person's country of origin (including also e.g. Sputnik V, Sputnik Lite, Sinovac, Sinopharm etc.).

Suitable as proof of vaccination are:

  • immunisation passport, a copy of it or a corresponding certificate (including the EU COVID certificate);
  • an officially certified printout of another country's database;
  • immunisation passport that can be requested on paper from the health care service provider.

The document proving vaccination in another country must be either in Latin or Slavonic alphabet, in Estonian, Russian or English and contain the following information:

  • the disease that was vaccinated against;
  • the date of immunisation;
  • the vaccine medicinal product that was used;
  • how many doses the person has been administered;
  • the information on the issuer of the certificate.

How quickly after immunisation can I download the EU digital COVID certificate from the Patient Portal?

You can create and download the digital COVID certificate immediately after the vaccinator has entered the relevant information in the health information system. The health care service provider must forward the information on vaccination to the health information system within one work day of confirming the immunisation notice in its own information system.

Who is a person who has full representation rights in tha Patient Portal? How can I assign that?

You can assign the status of a person with full representation rights yourself at the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee). A person with full representation rights can see all your data (excl. time critical data and documents that your have closed off from the representative yourself) and do all transactions for you (update personal data, close single documents or the whole medical history off from a doctor, make expressions of will, and order a vaccination certificate). In order to assign a person with full representation rights you need to select "My data" and assign a person with full representation rights.

Am I able to order the EU digital COVID vaccination certificate for someone else as well?

Yes, a legal representative can create an immunisation certificate for the person she is representing and representatives that have been given full rights at the Patient Portal can create an immunisation certificate for their wards.

I do not know which vaccine was administered to me. Does that mean that I will not be able to get the EU digital COVID vaccination certificate?

All data on the COVID immunisation certificate are from the health information system where the health care worker is obligated to insert it within one work day of the vaccination. The user of the vaccination certificate does not need to remember and add any separate data.

Do I need to turn to my family doctor or the vaccinator in order to get the EU digital COVID certificate?

No, you do not. Each person who has received COVID-19 vaccine can get a vaccination certificate by logging into the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee). If information about your vaccination has not reached the Patient Portal, you must turn to the health care service provider who performed the vaccination in order to get information.

Does the EU digital COVID certificate confirm that I am immune to COVID-19?

It does not. The vaccination certificate confirms that a vaccination has been administered.

Does everyone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 get a EU digital COVID vaccination certificate?

Each person who has received a COVID-19 vaccination for which there is an immunisation notice that has been sent to the health information system by the vaccinator and that can be seen by the person in the Patient Portal, can log into the Patient Portal and let the system create a vaccination certificate.

How much does the COVID-19 vaccination certificate cost?

The vaccination certificate received from the Patient Portal is free of charge.

How can I create an EU digital COVID vaccination certificate for a person I am representing at the Patient Portal?

When you log into the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee), there is an option to change roles in the upper left side on a gray background. By choosing a correct role from there, you can create a vaccination certificate to a person you are representing.

Where can I get my EU digital COVID certificate?

A person who has received COVID-19 vaccine can log inro the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee) and create an immunisation certificate for himself or reproduce previously created valid certificates. A person can open and download the certificate at the Patient Portal. For a check, a person can present the certificate in a smart device or as a paper printout.

Estonians and foreign nationals with an Estonian personal identification code who cannot create their own EU COVID certificates in the Patient Portal can submit an application for it at all the service bureaus of the Social Insurance Board. All who wish to get the certificate can fill out the [application (DOCX)] (https://www.tehik.ee/sites/default/files/2021-08/Sert_vormis_erikeeled.docx) beforehand and print it out. The application must be taken to the suitable service bureau of the Social Insurance Board after which the EU COVID certificate will be sent to the person's e-mail address within three working days. The exact addresses and opening times can be found on the web page of the Social Insurance Board (in Estonian).

 

Restrictions in everyday life

 

Is dispersion obligation the same as the 2+2 rule?

Dispersion is not the 2+2 rule but guidance to keep a safe distance with each other in a public indoor space. A public indoor space is a room that can be entered by anyone (this also includes public transport).

Starting from October, 2021: People have to be and move around in a public indoor space in a dispersed manner. The restriction does not apply to families or in cases where it is not possible to ensure these conditions reasonably.

The person responsible for the activities (i.e. the trader, the service provider, the organiser of the event, the catering establishment etc.) ensures, there would not be an unreasonable amount of people in the space or room. The Government order does not prescribe an exact distance -- ensuring dispersion means that groups of persons (e.g. families) or individuals should not be too close to each other or in direct contact.

Close contacts between people who are not usually together increase the probability of the virus spreading.

What must be kept in mind when doing the rapid tests?

The following needs to be considered:

Rapid tests that are valid for 48 hours:

  • antigen rapid tests that are used have been approved in the EU and meant for professional use
  • are done by a health care service provider, generally in their own medical centres, special testing locations (e.g. Confido's 17 locations across Estonia, Corrigo in Ida-Virumaa) or the user himself at a holder of an activity licence for general pharmacy services according to the instructions of the Health Board
  • the test results are entered into the health information system
  • a person gets a certificate to prove a negative result
  • a person pays for the service herself

Rapid tests that are valid only for the specific event, for providing a service on the spot

  • antigen rapid tests that are used have been approved in the EU
  • the tests are done by the visitor herself, on the spot, upon arriving to an event or to consume the service
  • doing the test is guided by a vaccinated person responsible for the activity; there is also a possibility to hire a health care service provider
  • an operator may charge for the service

If the test result is positive or unclear, the person must stay in isolation and contact their family doctor to confirm the diagnosis with a PCR test.

More information in the Health Board's instructions for administering rapid tests. (in Estonian).

Starting from October 25, 2021: A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof in Estonia for participating in activities taking place in public indoor spaces. The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

Is the yellow paper based immunisation passport also suitable for proving one's vaccination status?

Yes, it is.

The yellow immunisation passport is issued at the request of a person by a family doctor or some other medical worker carrying out vaccinations. If a person already has an immunisation passport and he wishes to prove his vaccination status with it later, he should bring it along to the vaccination. In that case, the person carrying out the vaccination can make a corresponding note in the passport. People who have been vaccinated abroad can also prove their vaccination status with the immunisation passport.

Among other things, the passport contains the disease against which the immunisation was administered, the date of immunisation, immune preparation that was used, the lot number of it, and the number of doses administered, also the name and other data of the immuniser.

Red: how to behave if the risk level is very high?

The red level means that the strictest control measures are established in the society, i.e. many institutions are closed, there is distance learning and working from home. The operability of the medical system is not ensured.

Everyone can adjust their behaviour and actions according to the risk level of the spread of the virus.

What can everyone do on their own?

  • Get vaccinated and help people close to you to get vaccinated as well
  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a facemask in crowded indoor spaces
  • Do a rapid test before meeting people who are in a risk group
  • Stay at home with even mild symptoms and do a rapid test
  • If the rapid test is positive, consult with a doctor
  • If possible work and study from home
  • Organise meetings virtually or in open air
  • Minimise the number of face-to-face meetings

What can an organisation do?

  • Support your workers and visitors getting vaccinated
  • Ensure a well-ventilated space.
  • Put together a risk analysis and an action plan
  • Give recommendations on how to behave
  • Offer disinfectants and face masks
  • Offer testing opportunities
  • Offer vaccination opportunities
  • Allow people who are not vaccinated to work and learn from a distance
  • Reduce high risk contacts
  • Allow and recommend that everyone goes to distance work and learning
  • Minimise the number of face-to-face meetings

What does the state do?

  • Ensures that everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated
  • Ensures the possibility of getting tested
  • Identifies possible outbreaks
  • Enacts measures to quickly reduce the number of infections

Read more about implementing the risk levels here: https://www.kriis.ee/et/riskitasemed (in Estonian).

Orange: how to behave if the risk level is high?

If the orange level is reached, the operability of the health care system is in danger, the waiting times of regular medical services will lengthen considerably for people. In order to ensure that medical aid is available, strict control measures need to be enacted in the society, so that the red level would not be reached. This means, for instance, that supervision over the activities of cultural, entertainment, and catering establishments will be increased and regional restrictions will be enacted, if necessary.

Everyone can adjust their behaviour and actions according to the risk level of the spread of the virus.

What can everyone do on their own?

  • Get vaccinated and help people close to you to get vaccinated as well
  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a facemask in crowded indoor spaces
  • Do a rapid test before meeting people who are in a risk group
  • Stay at home with even mild symptoms and do a rapid test
  • If the rapid test is positive, consult with a doctor
  • If possible, work from home
  • Organise meetings virtually or in open air

What can an organisation do?

  • Support your workers and visitors getting vaccinated
  • Ensure a well-ventilated space.
  • Put together a risk analysis and an action plan
  • Give recommendations on how to behave
  • Offer disinfectants and face masks
  • Offer testing opportunities
  • Offer vaccination opportunities
  • Allow distance work
  • Reduce high risk contacts

What does the state do?

  • Ensures that everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated
  • Ensures the possibility of getting tested
  • Identifies possible outbreaks
  • Enacts measures to quickly reduce the number of infections

Read more from the kriis.ee web page: instructions on how to act at different risk levels (in Estonian).

Yellow: how to behave if the risk level is medium?

The yellow level means that the health care system is not in critical danger but new beds for COVID-19 do still need to be created, lengthening the waiting times of scheduled treatments. Some control measures need to be enacted in the society, allowing to slow the spread of the virus across the coutry. For instance, the use of the COVID certificate to ensure that there is no infection risk, and wearing masks in public spaces without the COVID certificate.

Everyone can adjust their behaviour and actions according to the risk level of the spread of the virus.

What can everyone do on their own?

  • Get vaccinated and help people close to you to get vaccinated as well
  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a facemask in crowded indoor spaces
  • Do a rapid test before meeting people who are in a risk group
  • Stay at home with even mild symptoms and do a rapid test
  • If the rapid test is positive, consult with a doctor

What can an organisation do?

  • Support your workers and visitors getting vaccinated
  • Ensure a well-ventilated space.
  • Put together a risk analysis and an action plan
  • Give recommendations on how to behave
  • Offer disinfectants and face masks
  • Offer testing opportunities
  • Offer vaccination opportunities

What does the state do?

  • Ensures that everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated
  • Ensures the possibility of getting tested
  • Identifies possible outbreaks
  • Enacts measures to quickly reduce the number of infections

Read more about implementing the risk levels here: https://www.kriis.ee/et/riskitasemed (in Estonian).

Green: how to behave if the risk level is low?

At the green level, the risk that the infection spreads and the burden on the health care system increases is low and the society can function as usual.

Everyone can adjust their behaviour and actions according to the risk level of the spread of the virus.

What can everyone do on their own?

  • Get vaccinated and help people close to you to get vaccinated as well
  • Wash your hands

What can an organisation do?

  • Support your workers and visitors getting vaccinated
  • Ensure well-ventilated rooms
  • Put together a risk analysis and an action plan

What is done by the state?

  • Ensures that everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated
  • Ensures the possibility of getting tested
  • Identifies possible outbreaks

Read more from the kriis.ee web page: instructions on how to act at different risk levels (in Estonian).

What does the coronavirus risk level, or the so-called traffic light, mean?

The risk level of the coronavirus spread can be low, medium, high, or very high.

  • Low risk (green): the risk that the infection will spread and the burden on the health care system will rise is low and the society can operate as usual.
  • Medium risk (yellow): the operability of the health care system is not in critical danger but there is still a need to create further COVID beds, which will lengthen the waiting times of scheduled treatments. Some control measures have to be enacted in the society, which will help to slow down the national spread of the virus. For instance using the COVID certificate to ensure that there is no infection risk and wearing masks in public space if there is no COVID certificate.
  • High risk (orange): the operability of the health care system is in danger, the lines of regular medical services will significantly lengthen for people. In order to ensure the availability of medical aid, it is necessary to enact strict control measures in the society to avoid reaching the red level. For instance, this means that supervision over cultural, entertainment and catering establishments is increased and regional restrictions are enacted if necessary.
  • Very high (red): the operability of the medical system is not ensured. This means that the strictest control measures are enacted in the society, i.e. many institutions are closed, there is distance learning and working from home.

Indicators for risk levels, and ranges for them for each risk level have been established based on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Board and the Health Board. The seven day average number of people infected and hospitalised with COVID is taken into account. Additional indicators that are considered are the seven day average number of COVID-19 deaths, the full vaccine coverage of the adult population, the infection level people over the age of 60 and the number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

The risk level is reviewed once a week.

Read more about the risk levels from here: https://www.kriis.ee/et/riskitasemed (in Estonian).

Restrictions in force in education, sports, youth work, hobby activities and culture

The same rules apply to activities taking place both indoors and outdoors.

In sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training; at sports competitions and sports and exercise events; in saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; at public meetings and events (including in the theatre, at the cinema, at a concert, incl. a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition facilities; at entertainment services all participants, regardless of the number of people, who are older than 18 years of age must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test. Infection risk status must also be proven if the activity or event takes place at a location where services are provided, i.e. when a catering establishment is rented out or a theatre performance is performed on order at a theatre.

COVID certificates do not need to be checked at unrestricted outdoor events (for instance, events that take place in one neighbourhood of a town, where people are in constant movement and it is not possible to determine an activity with a certain location and number of participants).

The organisers have an obligation to check the validity of the COVID certificates. If there is a substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

Indoors, in addition to checking the COVID certificates and tests, it is important to ensure that people are dispersed and disinfection requirements are followed, and other measures aiming to stop the spread of the coronavirus are followed according to the instructions of the Health Board (in Estonian).

If the person responsible for the activities is checking the infection risk status of persons, up tp 6000 persons may participate in the events and activities indoors and 12000 persons outdoors, provided that the abovementioned order is followed.

Starting from October 25, 2021: In sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; at sports competitions and sports and exercise events; in saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; at public meetings and events (including in theatre, in cinema, at a concert, including a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition venues; at entertainment services all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of participants, have to present a valid COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. If vaccination is contraindicated to a person for health reasons, they need to present a corresponding medical certificate in order to participate.

Restrictions in force and reductions of restrictions

Restrictions in force in Estonia

It is compulsory to cover one's nose and mouth in public transport, including in trains and ferries. Children under the age of 12 do not have to wear a mask.

Starting from October 25, 2021: A mask must be worn in public transport, including in trains and ferries. It is not sufficient to cover one's nose and mouth with a scarf, collar, visor or any such object that is not meant to be used as a protective mask.


It is compulsory to wear a mask in unchecked public indoor spaces. This mainly pertains to commercial and service establishments but also state and local government agencies. A mask must be worn in stores, pharmacies, service offices of telecommunication enterprises and banks, libraries, but also the service bureaus of the Police and Border Guard Board, the Social Insurance Board, or the Health Board, and elsewhere. A mask must not be worn by children under the age of 12 or people for whom wearing a mask is not reasonable due to health concerns or for other substantial reasons.

*Starting from October 25, 2021: A mask must be worn in unchecked public indoor spaces. It is not sufficient to cover one's nose and mouth with a scarf, collar, visor or any such object that is not meant to be used as a protective mask. A mask is not compulsory for children under the age of 12. People for whom wearing a protective mask is medically contraindicated must present a relevant certificate to the checker. Wearing a mask is highly recommended in rooms where vaccination and recovery status is checked.


Commercial enterprises and service providers

It is compulsory to wear a mask in stores and service facilities, disinfectants must be available and disinfection requirements must be fulfilled according to the instructions of the Health Board, and the requirement to disperse people must also be followed.

Starting from October 25, 2021: it is compulsory to wear a mask in stores and service facilities. The service provider or trader has the right to admit a person who refuses to wear a protective mask to the service area. Commercial and service enterprises must ensure the dispersion of people, so that people and groups of people would not be too close to each other


Catering establishments

All customers of catering establishments who are over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a prior negative test result. Consuming on the spot is allowed only if checking the COVID-19 certificates is ensured, and this applies even if the catering establishment is rented out, e.g. for birthdays, company parties or other private events. It is not necessary to present the certificate to buy food as takeaway or provide delivery services but in that case a mask must be worn. It is not necessary to present a certificate for buying food as takeaway or providing delivery services, but a mask must be worn.

Starting from October 25, 2021: All customers of catering establishments who are over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. Consuming on the spot is allowed only if checking the COVID-19 certificates is ensured.


Worship services

It is allowed to carry out public worship services and religious services in a way that up to 50 people may participate in them indoors (up to 100 outdoors) in places of worship or a 50% maximum occupancy requirement has to be observed. A mask must be worn. If the participation numbers exceed these limits, the infection risk status of people must be checked.

The exception does not extend to church concerts which fall under the requirements set to organising events.


Museums, exhibition venues

All visitors over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a prior negative test result. The infection risk status of all participants must also be checked if the activity or event takes place at the location of service provision, e.g. if a gallery space or a museum hall is rented out for a private event.

The restrictions apply to public meetings and events, including conferences, cinema showings, provision of entertainment services, museums and exhibitions. Additionally, they apply to doing sports and training, youth work, hobby activities, informal education, refresher training, organising sports competitions and sports and exercise events, and also in public saunas, spas, pools, water parks and swimming facilities.

Starting from October 25, 2021: All visitors over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. Wearing a protective mask is highly recommended.


Entertainment sector and public events

All visitors over the age of 18 must present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a prior negative test result. The infection risk status of all visitors must be checked even when the activity or event takes place in a place of service provision, for example a catering establishment in rented out or a theatre performance is ordered from a theatre.

In order to participate at the event or the activity it is possible to do an antigen rapid test up to 48 hours earlier or a PCR test up to 72 hours earlier. The testing needs to be carried out by a health care service provider. In order to participate at the event or activity, the test results need to be negative.

The organiser of the event does not have to provide for the possibility to do an antigen rapid test immediately before the event anymore. The organiser is still allowed to provide for the possibility to do the rapid test, according to the instructions of the Health Board, but if it does not provide for this, the person wishing to enter with a test result has to organise their own testing at a health care service provider.

The restrictions apply to public meetings and events, including conferences, cinema showings, provision of entertainment services, museums and exhibitions. Additionally, they apply to doing sports and training, youth work, hobby activities, informal education, refresher training, organising sports competitions and sports and exercise events, and also in public saunas, spas, pools, water parks and swimming facilities.

Starting from October 25, 2021: People who are of age and have not been vaccinated against COVID or recovered from the disease are no longer allowed to participate in activities where the COVID certificate is required. All participants over the age of 18 must present a valid certificate proving vaccination or recovery.

Work life, risk analysis of the working environment

In employment relationships the basis for going to work and using personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask) is the risk analysis of the working environment. It is the task of the employer to evaluate the risks present in the working environment (including risks related to the spread of the virus), their effect on the health of the employee and, according to the results of the analysis, enact measures to lower the risks. As a preventative measure, the employer might, for instance, foresee in the risk analysis that the employees have to get vaccinated if it is necessary to safely perform their professional duties. It is also possible to use other relevant measures, for instance to obligate the employees to wear personal protective equipment (e.g. a mask). However, the Government of the Republic recommends distance work to everyone who has that option.

 

EU digital COVID certificates

 

Which special needs release a person from an obligation to present a COVID certificate?

  • If a person cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons i.e. she has a contraindication to vaccination (e.g. she has anaphylaxis or a strong allergic reaction to some ingredient of the vaccine, has had capillary leak syndrome in the past etc.), it is possible for her to use a certificate of negative test result in order to participate in activities. Contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination is documented by a family doctor or a treating specialist with the international disease classification (IDC-10) code intended for that and that is the basis for free testing at a health care service provider with a referral from a family doctor or the Family Doctor's Advice (1220 or +372 634 6630). If testing is organised in some other way than at a health care service provider, it is a paid service.

  • If a person can get neither vaccinated nor tested due to medical reasons, a family doctor or a treating specialist can issue a certificate based on which she can participate in activities. It has to be taken into account that the certificate is valid nationally, and in other countries the restrictions and requirements in force there should be adhered to. If a person travelling has a very rare (and medically proven) combined contraindication to both testing and vaccination, she has to stay in a 10 day self-isolation after arriving from a risk country. It is very strongly recommended that they also use personal protective equipment, e.g. an FFP2 or FFP3 respirator, when participating in activities.

  • If a person cannot get tested due to medical reasons (e.g. he has a specific facial trauma), it is possible to get vaccinated and participate in activities with a COVID immunisation certificate (either the paper based immunisation passport or a digital certificate).

Starting from October 25, 2021:

  • If a person cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, i.e. vaccination is contraindicated to him (e.g. he has anaphylaxis or a strong allergic reaction to an ingredient of the vaccine, a previously occurred capillary leak syndrome etc.), they can use a certificate issued by a doctor to participate in activities. A contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination is established by a doctor who documents it with an international disease classification (ICD-10) code, on the basis of which she can issue a paper certificate.

It should be noted that it is only possible to use the abovementioned doctor's certificate to participate in activities within the country. In other countries you have to act according to the restrictions and requirements in force there. People who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons are urgently recommended to also use personal protective equipment, e.g. a FFP2 or FFP3 respirator, while participating in activities, in order to reduce the infection risk.

How can I get a vaccination certificate if I do not have an internet connection and/or a computer and a printer, or a smartphone?

Estonians and foreigners who have an Estonian personal identification code for whom it is not possible to log into the Patient Portal for technical reasons or who cannot create the EU COVID certificates in the Patient Portal, can submit an application for that in all service bureaus of the Social Insurance Board.

In order to create the certificate, the people who turn to the Social Insurance Board must have:

  • an Estonian personal identification code and an identification document
  • the vaccine must have been administered in Estonia

Everyone who wishes to receive a certificate can fill out an application (DOCX) in advance and print it out. An application that has either been filled out in advance or on the spot must be submitted to a suitable service bureau of the Social Insurance Board and an EU COVID certificate will be sent to the person's e-mail address within three working days from that. Even though a vaccination certificate can already be created after one vaccination, in order to participate in different events and activities in Estonia, the course of vaccinations has to be completed. The service is free of charge for everyone. More info from the web page of the Social Insurance Board.

If a person does not have the possibility to print out the certificate or display it from a smartphone, they also have the opportunity, for instance, to turn to the local library. This, however, requires a working ID card and PIN codes. If necessary, a person can also be assisted by the social worker of the local municipality.

If the PIN codes of the ID card are expired or lost, it is possible to apply for a new username and password from the service offices of the Police and Border Guard Board. The service costs 5 Euros.

Where/how can I get the certificate if I do not have an ID card or valid passwords?

If it is not possible for a person to enter the Patient Portal and create the certificate at home for technical reasons or there is no possibility to print out the certificate, the person can turn to the local library, for instance. This does presume the existence of a working ID card and passwords. If necessary, the social worker of the local municipality can also assist the person.

If the obstacle turns out to be the expiration of the ID card passwords or the passwords are lost altogether, it is possible apply for a new username and password from the Police and Border Guard Board. This service costs 5 Euros.

Estonians and foreign nationals with an Estonian personal identification code who cannot create their own EU COVID certificates in the Patient Portal can submit an application for it at all the service bureaus of the Social Insurance Board.

People who are turning to the Social Insurance Board must have an Estonian personal identification code and an identity document in order to create the certificate. All who wish to get the certificate can fill out the application (DOCX) beforehand and print it out. The application must be taken to the suitable service bureau of the Social Insurance Board after which the EU COVID certificate will be sent to the person's e-mail address within three working days. Even though it is possible to create a vaccination certificate after only one dose, in order to participate in different events in Estonia, the course of vaccinations has to be completed. The service is free of charge to all.

More info on the web page of the Social Insurance Board.

If I do not have a smart phone where to display my digital certificate, how can I get into the event?

A printout of the certificate, the so-called yellow vaccination passport, and also certificates issued abroad are considered equivalent to a digital certificate.

How are the digital EU COVID certificates being checked?

There are two QR codes on each certificate for checking: one (smaller) takes to the web page that has been designated for verification, and the other (larger) QR code allows verifying that the data on the certificate is correct and authentic.

The certificates can be checked with the QR code scanning application on the web page kontroll.digilugu.ee (it is not possible to do this with regular QR code readers).

The solution makes it possible to evaluate the authenticity of the certificate and whether it meets the requirements currently in force in Estonia. Upon scanning, the person doing the check will be displayed three colours: green (the certificate is valid), orange (the information on the certificate does not meet the vaccination or recovery conditions in force in Estonia), and red (technical error of the certificate, the certificate is not valid).

The checking application shows whether:

  • the course of vaccination has been completed (1/1, 2/2 etc.)
  • at least 14 days have passed since the last vaccination, or at least 7 days if the vaccine used was the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty
  • up to one year has passed since the last vaccination
  • the sample for the PCR test with a negative result has been taken within the past 72 hours
  • the sample for the rapid test with a negative result has been taken within the past 48 hours
  • the sample of the PCR test with a positive result has been taken more than 11 days and no more than 180 days ago

If there is substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identification document.

If needed, the checking application can also be used to check whether your certificate meets the requirements in force in chosen other European Union member states.

More information: The guidelines for checking the EU COVID certificates (in Estonian).

Is recovery from the disease enough or is it also necessary to vaccinate for the certificate to be valid?

Recovery from the disease is sufficient to prove one does not pose an infection risk if less than 180 days have passed since receiving a positive test result (PCR test). This means that a COVID-19 recovery certificate is valid for six months.

Once the recovery certificate is about to expire, it would be wise to get vaccinated: those who have recovered from the disease and then gotten vaccinated have a 20 times smaller chance of getting reinfected.

The recommendation is to vaccinate people who have recovered from the coronavirus with one dose on the sixth month after recovery. After this, the course of vaccination can be considered completed and a vaccination certificate becomes valid after maximum protection is achieved. The time that it takes to achieve maximum protection is different for different vaccines: Pfizer BioNTech Comirnaty 7 days after the second dose, Spikevax (Moderna) 14 days after the second dose, Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) 15 days after the second dose, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) 14 days after the first dose.

It is worth noting that the status on the digital COVID certificates does not change automatically. The certificate has to be created again once the health care service provider has entered the new information to the Patient Portal digilugu.ee. If you have any questions about the information on the created COVID certificate, you can get assistance from the user support line of the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre +372 794 3943 (from 7.00 to 22.00) or from the e-mail abi[at]tehik[dot]ee.

What is the EU digital COVID certificate?

The European Union (EU) digital COVID certificate allows persons who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, given a negative test, or recovered from COVID-19 (according to a positive COVID-19 PCR test) in Estonia to prove that based on the information that is in the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee.

The EU digital COVID certificate can be used in all European Union member states according to the requirements in force (e.g. to travel, to participate in activities, to eat on the spot at restaurants etc.).

It is possible to create the certificate in the Patient Portal for oneself: see the instructions (in Estonian).

Starting from October 25, 2021: People over the age of 18 who have not completed the course of vaccinations or recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months are not allowed to participate in activities organised in checked public spaces (including entertainment, eating on the premises at restaurants, events, cinema, theatre etc.) where the COVID certificate is required in Estonia. A certificate of a negative test result is not sufficient to prove that one does not pose an infection risk. People under the age of 18 do not have to present a certificate.

As an organiser of an event, what do I need to check before the beginning of the event?

Starting from the first participant, it is compulsory for everyone who is 18 years of age or older, who have recovered from the disease, been vaccinated, or have done either the PCR of antigen rapid test, to present a corresponding certificate to the organiser before the start of the event or activity.

The organiser must check the validity of the COVID certificates. If there is a substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

The organiser may also provide for the possibility of doing a rapid test on the spot in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board, but if they do not, the person wishing to enter with a test result must organise their own testing at a health care service provider or a holder of an activity licence for a general pharmacy.

Starting from October 25, 2021: Starting from the first participant, it is compulsory for everyone who is 18 years of age or older to present a corresponding certificate to the organiser before the start of the event or activity. An event may be attended by people who:

  • have completed the course of vaccinations with the past year (or have completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose)
  • have recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed.
  • cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, if they present a certificate issued by a doctor, attesting to that fact.

People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

The organiser must check the authenticity and validity of the COVID certificates. If there is a substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

A negative test result is not sufficient as proof. The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

What does a child need to do to be able to get into an event?

A child does not have to have a COVID certificate: people under the age of 18 do not have to prove their infection risk status, i.e. vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 in order to participate in checked activities (including events, entertainment, informal education).

Similarly to adults, it is also strongly recommended that children over the age of 12 wear a protective mask even in places where the COVID certificates are being checked. Preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. a FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator), which effectively keeps the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

An event is to be attended only when healthy, people who are sick (or in simplified quarantine) have to stay home.

Can I also participate at an event if I do not have the digital certificate?

Yes, if a person does not have a digital certificate or he does not wish to use it, the infection risk status can also be proven with a test. If the results are negative, the person may participate at the event.

The organiser may provide for the possibility of doing a rapid test on the spot in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board, but if they do not, the person wishing to enter with a test result must organise their own testing at a health care service provider or a holder of an activity licence for general pharmacy services.

Starting from October 25, 2021: A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof for participating in events. The access of unvaccinated people to checked events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

If a person has completed the course of vaccinations within the past year (or has completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed, they can present a printout of the certificate or prove their vaccination status with the so-called yellow vaccination passport. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate with a certificate issued by a doctor, confirming the fact. People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

Am I able to enter country X with the digital COVID certificate without staying in isolation?

The certificate does not guarantee release from the self-isolation requirement. Possible restrictions in the destination country must be taken into account when travelling. Information on the conditions for entering other countries can be found on the Reisi Targalt web page (in Estonian) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Will I be able to travel to country X with the EU digital COVID certificate?

The certificate is not a basis for travelling to a foreign country but, depending on the requirements of the destination country, may release the traveller from restrictions that the country has enacted (e.g. self-isolation). The destination country's requirements for entry/determining isolation requirements should always be taken into account when travelling. Additionally, the restrictions that transport companies have set for their transit passengers should be taken into consideration. Information on the conditions for entry into other countries can be found on the Reisi Targalt web page (in Estonian) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I tried scanning the QR code on the certificate myself but it did not work. What do I need to do?

The QR code on the certificate cannot be read with a regular QR code reading application, it requires a QR code reading application that meets the European Union conditions. People who so wish can verify the validity of their certificate with the web application that can be found on the web page kontroll.digilugu.ee. The person doing the check will be displayed three colours: green (the certificate is valid), orange (the information on the certificate does not meet the vaccination or recovery conditions in force in Estonia), and red (techincal error and/or the certificate is not valid).

How exactly does the verification of a digital COVID-19 certificate happen?

Each digital COVID-19 certificate contains a digitally signed QR code that contains relevant information on the certificate. A digital signature is created with the signee's cryptographic private key and a trusted institution's (TEHIK - the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre in Estonia) public key.

Each member state of the EU creates its own solution for checking the certificates, e.g. a web or mobile application through which it is possible to check the authenticity of the certificate in the destination country. When the owner of the certificate presents his certificate in some other member state, it is possible to check its authenticity, integrity and validity with a public key, as this key is being exchanged through a central gateway (EU Gateway) of the EU.

In Estonia, the web page kontroll.digilugu.ee has been created for that, allowing to check the authenticity of the certificate and whether it meets the requirements currently in force in Estonia. The person doing the check will be displayed three colours: green (the certificate is valid), orange (the information on the certificate does not meet the vaccination or recovery conditions in force in Estonia), and red (technical error and/or the certificate is not valid).

If needed, the checking application can also be used to check whether your certificate meets the requirements in force in chosen other European Union member states.

More information: The guidelines for checking the EU COVID certificates (in Estonian).

Will my health data be moving around Europe when the digital COVID certificate is being checked?

No, they won't. In order to check the certificates, the European Commission created the necessary infrastructure (EU Gateway) through which the national systems are interfaced. Personal data (including health data) is not being exchanged across borders and these data are not being collected at the EU level. Personal data is contained only on the certificate that is being held by the person himself.

I do not wish to get the EU digital certificate. How can I forfeit it?

A person can create a COVID certificate for himself at the Patient Portal. If a person does not wish to get a certificate, he does not need to do anything for it and there is no need to forfeit the certificate.

Who is meant to use the checking web site?

The checking website kontroll.digilugu.ee (in Estonian) is meant for checking the validity of the digital COVID-19 certificate, e.g. when crossing a border or to participate in different activities.

If needed, the checking application can also be used to check whether your certificate meets the requirements in force in chosen other European Union member states.

More information: The guidelines for checking the EU COVID certificates (in Estonian).

Why does the certificate have two QR codes?

One code is for reaching the specific checking web site conveniently, and the other is a QR code through which it is possible to check that the data on the certificate is correct and the certificate is authentic.

What kind of personal identification data does the EU digital COVID vaccination certificate contain?

First and last name, and date of birth.

In which languages is the information on the certificate?

The information on the certificate is in three languages -- Estonian, English, and Russian.

Is a digital COVID certificate obligatory?

It is not obligatory. The objective of a digital COVID certificate is to offer a solution that would allow people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus in Estonia, given a negative test, or recovered from COVID-19 (according to a positive COVID-19 PCR test) to prove it based on the information that is in the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee.

What should I make sure of before travelling?

Before going on a trip you should get to know the requirements of the destination country for entering the country and getting a release from the isolation requirement. Additionally, the restrictions that transport companies set for their transit passengers should be taken into consideration.

It should be kept in mind that even though the immunisation certificate can be created immediately after immunisation with the first dose, one dose of the vaccine (for two-dose vaccines) might not bring about the desired exceptions and releases at the destination country.

Additionally, it should be ascertained what the destination country's rules are for the immunity created by vaccination, i.e. when the destination country considers the course of vaccination is completed or the immunity achieved. For instance, there might be a situation where a certain number of days must have passed from getting the second dose of a two-dose vaccine in order to get a release from self-isolation. It should also be considered that the approach to a negative test result might differ in countries.

Information on the conditions for entering other countries can be found on the Reisi Targalt web page (in Estonian) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

Summer camps, trainings, hobby education, youth centres

 

Do parents who are accompanying children to the class and coming to pick them up after also have to present a certificate?

The restrictions both indoors and outdoors have been set regardless of what is the purpose or length of the stay. This means that parents entering the building also have to present a certificate or do a rapid test.

Starting from October 25: Parents entering the building have to present a valid COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. Presenting a negative test result is no longer sufficient.

Is it allowed to go to a swimming pool, sports club or a spa with a test certificate?

According to the restrictions, it is allowed to participate in the activity if a certificate with a negative result is presented to prove that a test was done (an EU approved antigen test up to 48 hours before participating in the activity or a PCR test up to 72 hours before participating in the activity). It is also possible to do the SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test meant for self-testing at a holder of an activity permit for general pharmacy services.

If a test has not been done, the swimming pool or the club can organise doing the rapid test on the spot according to the instructions of the Health Board. In order to participate in the activity, the results of the test have to be negative.

The instructions of the Health Board can be found here: https://www.terviseamet.ee/sites/default/files/covid-19_ag_kontrollitud_kiirtestide_kasutamine.pdf (in Estonian).

Starting from October 25, 2021: It is not possible to enter a swimming pool, a sports club or a spa based on a test certificate. According to the order in force, all people over the age of 18 have to present a valid certificate proving that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months, in order to participate in activities taking place in checked public spaces. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, he can participate in activities by presenting a corresponding medical certificate.

People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

Can the instructors of performance and sports groups demand a vaccination certificate from the members of the group and limit access to the group if one is not presented?

All persons over the age of 18 who participate in performance and sports activities have to present a COVID certificate proving vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test, regardless of the number of participants.

Events and activities where a person responsible for the activities is checking the infection risk status of the persons are allowed to have 6000 participants indoors and 12000 participants outdoors, if the order described is followed.

There are exceptions for the activities aimed at disabled persons. Disability as a term is defined based on the definition in §2 subsection 1 of the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act (PISTS). The severity level of the disability of participants does not have to be determined but it should be kept in mind that if COVID certificates are not being checked, the participants have to wear a mask.

Starting from October 25, 2021: In performance and sports activities, all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of people, have to present a valid COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. If a person cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, he can participate in the activities by presenting a corresponding medical certificate. People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

What are the restrictions for sports training and exercise?

It is allowed to do sports and train alone or with companions if these are not activities that have been organised by a club or other organisation, and that also bring in economic income. If the activities do bring in economic income, the organised activities are subject to the control measures in force, as in that case this might involve persons who are not in daily contact with each other and thus raises the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

In sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; at sports competitions and sports and exercise events; in saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools it is compulsory for all participants over the age of 18 to present a COVID certificate to prove vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test.

There is no obligation to check the COVID certificate at outdoor events that take place in an unrestricted territory.

Indoors, in addition to checking the COVID certificates, it is important to ensure dispersion, availability of disinfectants, and the following of disinfection rules, in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board. If the relevant requirements are met, up to 6000 people participate indoors and up to 12000 outdoors.

The same rules apply to both indoor and outdoor activities: sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; at sports competitions and sports and exercise events; at saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; public meetings and events (including at the theatre, in the cinema, at a concert, including a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition venues; at entertainment services.

Starting from October 25, 2021: in sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; at sports competitions, and sports and exercise events; in saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools, all people over the age of 18, regardless of the number of participants, must present a valid COVID certificate proving that they have either completed the course of vaccinations or recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months. If vaccination is contraindicated to a person due to health reasons, they can participate by presenting a corresponding medical certificate. People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

What are the restrictions on sports competitions?

All participants over the age of 18 at sports competitions, sports and exercise events must present a COVID certificate to prove vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test.

The organisers have an obligation to check the validity of COVID certificates. In case of substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

COVID certificate does not have to be checked at outdoor events taking place on an unrestricted territory, e.g. in the forest or on city streets. In this case it is important to consider that places like the starting corridor, the check of competitors before they enter the starting corridor, the issuing of numbers etc. constitute restricted areas as well. Thus, even if the competition itself takes place in an unrestricted territory, the organisers must ensure that an infection risk check takes place before the start.

Indoors, in addition to checking the COVID certificates or tests, it is also important to ensure dispersion and the following of disinfection requirements, and to follow other measures aiming to stop the spread of the coronavirus in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board. The wearing of protective masks is strongly recommended.

Events and activities where the participants' negative test results, recovery from COVID-19 or completion of a course of COVID-19 vaccination is checked are allowed to have up to 6000 participants indoors and up to 12000 participants outdoors.

The same rules apply to activities taking place both indoors and outdoors: sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; sports competitions, and sports and exercise events; saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; public meetings and events (including in theatre, in cinema, at a concert, including a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition venues; at entertainment services.

Starting from October 25, 2021: All people over the age of 18, regardless of the number of participants, have to present a valid COVID certificate proving that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months, in order to participate in sports competitions, sports and exercise events. If vaccination is contraindicated for a person due to health reasons, he can participate in activities by presenting a corresponding medical certificate. People under the age of 18 do not have to present a COVID certificate.

As an exception, presenting a COVID certificate is not obligatory for athletes who are training or competing under the auspices of a highest national division club of a sports game or a sports federation, and for whom the risk analysis has foreseen corresponding measures for lowering the risks, including regular testing.

What are the rules for providers of hobby activities and informal education?

In hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training, all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of people, must present a COVID certificate for vaccination, recovery or a negative result of a prior test. Infection risk status need to also be proven if the activity or event takes place at a location of service provision, for instance if a theatre hall or a conference room is rented out for a hobby activity.

The organisers have an obligation to check the validity of COVID certificates. If there is substantiated doubt, the person must be asked to present an identity document.

COVID certificate does not have to be checked at outdoor events that take place in an unrestricted territory.

Indoors, in addition to checking the COVID certificates or tests, it is also important to ensure dispersion and the following of disinfection requirements, and to follow other measures aiming to stop the spread of the coronavirus in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

Events and activities where the participants' negative test results, recovery from COVID-19 or completion of a course of COVID-19 vaccination is checked are allowed to have up to 6000 participants indoors and up to 12000 participants outdoors.

The same rules apply activities taking place both indoors and outdoors: sports, training, youth work, hobby activities and informal education, refresher training; sports competitions, and sports and exercise events; saunas, spas, water parks and swimming pools; public meetings and events (including in theatre, in cinema, at a concert, including a church concert, at a conference); in museums and exhibition venues; at entertainment services.

Starting from October 25, 2021:In hobby activities and informal education, and refresher training, all participants over the age of 18, regardless of the number of people, must present a valid COVID certificate proving vaccination or recovery. Presenting a negative test result is no longer sufficient. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they need to present a corresponding medical certificate in order to participate in the activities.

 

Yellow immunisation passport on paper

 

Is the yellow paper based immunisation passport also suitable for proving one's vaccination status?

Yes, it is.

The yellow immunisation passport is issued at the request of a person by a family doctor or some other medical worker carrying out vaccinations. If a person already has an immunisation passport and he wishes to prove his vaccination status with it later, he should bring it along to the vaccination. In that case, the person carrying out the vaccination can make a corresponding note in the passport. People who have been vaccinated abroad can also prove their vaccination status with the immunisation passport.

Among other things, the passport contains the disease against which the immunisation was administered, the date of immunisation, immune preparation that was used, the lot number of it, and the number of doses administered, also the name and other data of the immuniser.

 

Public transport within Estonia

 

What kind of restrictions apply on ferries?

Just like in other public transport, it is also obligatory to wear in mask on ferries. A mask is not obligatory for children under the age of 12. People who have a contraindication to wearing a mask for health reasons must present a corresponding certificate to the checker.

A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

Additionally, in the catering establishments of internal ferries it must be ensured that people are dispersed, disinfectants are available, and the disinfection rules are followed in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

Is it obligatory to wear a mask when on public transport?

Passengers

In public transport, including in trains and ferries, it is obligatory to wear a mask or cover one's nose and mouth.

Public transport employees

Public transport employees have to behave in accordance with the employer's risk analysis.

If the employer has, in the working environment risk analysis, come to the conclusion that the risks related to the spread of the virus have been lowered sufficiently with the use of other personal protective equipment, e.g. a visor or a protective glass, the employer does not have to wear a protective mask. If the risk analysis has established that wearing a protective mask is necessary to safely perform the professional duties, the employee is obligated to wear a mask.

Starting from October 25, 2021:

People who have a contraindication to wearing a mask due t o health reasons have to present a checker with a certificate issued by a medical service provider, attesting to that fact.

A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

How to avoid getting infected when using public transportation?

All people over the age of 12 have to wear a protective mask in public transport. People who have a contraindication to wearing a mask for health reasons must present a corresponding certificate issued by a health care service provider, attesting to that fact.

A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

While using public transportation, follow these guidelines:

  • Wear a mask.
  • If you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve.
  • Do not touch handlebars or any other surfaces with bare hands.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Disinfect your hands as soon as possible after leaving the public transportation.
  • If possible, keep sufficient distance with other passengers.
  • Download the HOIA mobile app and keep it running.

Requirements for public transport employees

Public transport employees have to behave in accordance with the employer's risk analysis.

In employment relationships, the basis for the employee's use of personal protective equipment (including masks, a visor, a protective glass) and following other pre-emptive measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus is the working environment risk analysis conducted by the particular employer.

Should I take a taxi?

Yes, taxis are an option. If you have the chance, ask the taxi driver before getting in the car if they have disinfected the vehicle and aired it out between passengers. Remind the driver to disinfect and air out the car after your ride.

 

Crossing the Estonian border

 

If Ukraine is one of the green countries, does that mean that short term workers may also come to Estonia without tests and the isolation requirement?

An exemption like this does not apply to Ukrainian short term workers even if they are coming to work for one day. This means that the required tests need to be done before and after arriving in the country and there is an obligation to stay in self-isolation.

In the case of children aged 12 to 18 who are arriving with a vaccinated parent or companion from a European country where the infection rate is higher than 75, who may be the companion -- does it also include a grandparent, teacher or coach?

From what number does a group start?

The exceptions regarding minors that went in force on July 19, 2021 were enacted due to the recommendation of the European Council. According to this recommendation, in order to ensure the unity of families travelling together, minors who are travelling with a parent or parents, or another person accompanying them should not be obligated to remain in quarantine/self-isolation if the person accompanying them does not have that obligation, e.g. because the latter have a certificate of vaccination or recovery. Additionally, children under the age of 12 should be released from the requirement to do a SARS-CoV-2 infection test in order to be able to travel.

This means that the goal in granting children under the age of 18 exceptions from the obligation of self-isolation and the testing obligations related to that is to ensure the unity of families, which is why minors who are travelling with a coach or a teacher are subject to the general requirements upon arrival in Estonia.

Do minors travelling with their parent or an authorised companion need to stay in self-isolation upon arriving to Estonia from risk countries?

The tables with the current infection rates of countries and additional information can be found on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If the child arrives in Estonia with a parent, a guardian, or an authorised companion who is not subject to the requirement to stay in self-isolation after crossing the border (i.e. the parent/companion is vaccinated, or no more than 180 days have passed since a positive PCR test or a diagnosis proving recovery from COVID-19 and she is not symptomatic).

If the child travels with two parents, at least one of whom is released from the requirement to isolate, the same release also applies to the child (does not apply to groups of minors travelling together).

  • A child under the age of 12 who is not symptomatic can participate in school and hobby activities without restrictions (does not apply to groups of minors travelling together, e.g. sports or excursion groups).

European Union member states, Schengen countries and third countries in the European Union list where the 14 day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 75 (the so-called yellow and red countries):

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated are released from the requirement to self-isolate if they are arriving from an European Union or Schengen country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican, and have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arriving or have done a test immediately after arriving in Estonia and the test results were negative. Until the negative test results come in, it is obligatory to stay in one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated are released from the requirement to self-isolate if they are arriving from a third country in the European Union list (see second table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arriving or have done a test immediately after arriving in Estonia and the test results were negative. Until the negative test results come in, it is obligatory to stay in one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.

Third countries not on the European Union list:

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated and arrive from third countries not on the European Union list (see third table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and are the citizens of the European Union, Schengen countries, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican may enter Estonia. In order to be released from the requirement to self-isolate it is required to do another SARS-CoV-2 test immediately after arriving in Estonia, the result of which also have to be negative. Until the results of the test done immediately after arrival are known, there is an obligation to stay at one's place of residence or permanent place of stay.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are not vaccinated and who are citizens of third countries not on the European Union list (see third table on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and are arriving from these countries may enter Estonia if they have done a coronavirus PCR test up to 72 hours before entering Estonia or a rapid antigen-RTD test up to 48 hours before arrival, the results of which are negative. In order to be released from the requirement to self-isolate it is required to do another SARS-CoV-2 test immediately after arriving in Estonia, the result of which also have to be negative. Until the results of the test done immediately after arrival are known, there is an obligation to stay at one's place of residence or permanent place of stay;

Useful information: if the SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test done at a health care service provider has turned out to be positive and is immediately followed by a PCR repeat test with a negative result, the PCR test result is the one that counts.

If the child arrives in Estonia with a parent, a guardian, or an authorised companion who is not subject to the requirement to stay in self-isolation after crossing the border (i.e. the parent/companion is vaccinated, or no more than 180 days have passed since a positive PCR test or a diagnosis proving recovery from COVID-19 and she is not symptomatic).

European Union member states, Schengen countries and third countries on the European Union list where the 14 day infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is more than 75 (the so-called yellow and red states), and third countries not on the European Union list:

  • Children under the age of 18 and young people turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year who are not vaccinated themselves and who are not symptomatic are allowed to go to school, kindergarten and child care, and participate in hobby and training activities that are attended by the same persons that participate in the academic and educational activities (i.e. the number of contacts is not extended) on the first day after returning from a trip. On the third day the child needs to do a coronavirus PCR test that is free of charge for minors (booking information: koroonatestimine.ee). It is important to keep in mind that even if the test is negative, the child cannot participate in any other activities than the ones mentioned above within 10 days of crossing the border. If the test done on the third day turns out to be positive, the child must stay home in self-isolation and the prescribed order of dealing with close contacts is initiated at child care institution where he was.

  • A child under the age of 18 also has to stay away from educational activities if he becomes symptomatic before the testing done on the third day or if the symptoms occur after the negative test done on the third day. In that case it is necessary to contact the family doctor. If the test is done later than on the third day, e.g. on the fifth day, this means that the child can participate in academic and educational activities for the first three days after returning from a trip but must stay at home during days 4 and 5 until the test gets done and the negative result comes in.

  • A child under the age of 12 who does not participate in educational and child care activities does not have to do a coronavirus PCR test but does have to stay in self-isolation for ten days after crossing the border.

If the minor himself is vaccinated or no more than 180 days have passed since a coronavirus PCR test proving recovery from COVID-19 or a diagnosis, and he is not symptomatic

  • The child does not have to test or stay in self-isolation upon crossing the border but can participate in school work and different activities, taking into consideration the control measures currently in force in the country (e.g. dispersion, presenting the COVID-certificate depending on age etc.).

All travellers arriving in Estonia by airplane (including children whose information is submitted by a parent) have to fill out a traveller's questionnaire (in Estonian, Russian or English). This can be done up to three days before arriving in Estonia. Travellers arriving by ship, bus or car have an obligation to fill out the traveller's questionnaire if they are arriving from a country that has been marked as red in the table or a country equated to that.

Do pilots also have the obligation to self-isolate and test after crossing the border?

Pilots fall under an exception in force, according to which they are not subject to the obligations to self-isolate and test if they are directly involved with international freight or passenger transport and are arriving in Estonia to perform professional duties.

What kind of a declaration must a person present when crossing the state border?

At the border, a person entering the country must present their personal data and contact information, the data on under aged children that travelled with them, and travel information to the Health Board. Information that should be written down are the country of departure to Estonia, the date of arrival, and states that were transited during the trip, including countries where stopovers or transfers took place.

The declaration (a passenger locator form) can be submitted both on paper and electronically. The self-service portal of the Health Board can be found at the web page iseteenindus.terviseamet.ee. Starting from August 9, all arrivals from third countries must fill out the passenger locator form.

If a person subject to the obligation to present a declaration refuses to fill out the form, a penalty payment could applied to them.

What documents do I need to be able to prove on the border that I have been vaccinated against COVID-19?

Vaccinated in Estonia

If you have been vaccinated in Estonia, you can go to the Patient Portal digilugu.ee to create a digital COVID certificate that meets the European Union standards and can be used both as a printout and in a smart device.

The course of vaccinations is considered completed and the certificate valid from the time of achieving maximum protection according to the instructions of the particular manufacturer:

  • for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty, 7 calendar days from the second dose of the vaccine;
  • for the AstraZeneca vaccine Vaxzevria, 15 calendar days from the second dose of the vaccine;
  • for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, 14 calendar days from the second dose of the vaccine;
  • for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, 14 calendar days after one dose of the vaccine.

People who have received an additional vaccine dose after completing the course, and no more than one year has passed since the additional dose, are equated to a vaccinated person.

Vaccinated in other countries

Estonia recognizes those vaccinations that are recognized by the country of origin (including also e.g. Sputnik V, Sputnik Lite, Sinovac, Sinopharm etc.). The course of vaccinations is considered completed and the certificate valid from the time of achieving maximum protection according to the instructions of the particular manufacturer (e.g. 21 days after the second dose of the vaccine for Sputnik V). People who have received an additional vaccine dose after completing the course, and no more than one year has passed since the additional dose, are equated to a vaccinated person.

Suitable for proving vaccination:

  • an immunisation passport, a copy of it or a relevant certificate (including a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate that meets the EU requirements);
  • an officially certified printout from a database of another country;
  • a paper immunisation passport that a health care service provide can provide upon request;

The document proving vaccination in another country must be in Latin or Slavic alphabet, in Estonian, Russian or English and contain the following information:

  • the disease against which the immunisation was done;
  • the date of immunisation;
  • the vaccine medicinal product that was used;
  • how many doses have been administered to the person;
  • the data of the issuer of the certificate.

Where is it possible to find information on travelling between Estonia and Finland?

Information about entry into the country, transit and testing on the border can be found here: https://reisitargalt.vm.ee/riigid/soome/ (in Estonian).

Who is allowed to enter Estonia?

Entry into Estonia is allowed for:

  • The citizens and residents of Estonia, and their family members. The citizens and residents of Estonia are allowed into the country regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not.
  • The citizens and residents of the European Union, the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican, as well as persons holding a long-stay visa, and their family members if they are not symptomatic.
  • The citizens of the countries presented in Annex 1 of the recommendation of the Council of Europe (the list of countries can be found on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
  • Vaccinated citizens of third countries for whatever purpose.
  • The citizens of third countries who have not completed the course of vaccinations and who are coming to Estonia to work, study, join their family or with a special permit, if they have done a SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test 72 hours or a SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test 48 hours before entry into Estonia and can present a certificate about a negative result.
  • Persons who are travelling through the territory of the Republic of Estonia without delay (transit).

There are also several exceptions in force: testing on the border is not compulsory for e.g. the transporters of goods and raw materials, people connected to international transport of goods and passengers, people connected to the technological work of a company operating in Estonia, providers of health care services, diplomats, people who are coming in the framework of international military cooperation, and people who have received a special permit for entry.

More information on the risk levels and control levels in force upon entry into Estonia can be found on the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The infection rates of the countries are updated once a week, in Friday afternoon.

Who has to remain in self-isolation for ten days after entering Estonia?

All symptomatic persons have an obligation to self-isolate. Whether an asymptomatic person has an obligation to self-isolate depends on their country of departure or transit. Self-isolation is obligatory for people who come from a European country where the infection rate is higher than 75, if the infection rate is lower, there is no obligation to restrict one's movements. Self-isolation is also not required upon arrival from an European country where the infection rate of the past 14 days is higher than 75 but no higher than 200 per 100,000 inhabitants, and a negative SARS-Cov-2 test is done before arriving in Estonia or is done immediately after arrival in Estonia. The person must stay at their place of residence or permanent place of stay until the negative test results come in.

People who come from outside of Europe generally fall under the requirement to restrict their movements. It is possible to shorten the self-isolation obligation by doing a coronavirus test, and this is recommended in any case.

Information about the countries and self-isolation obligations of those arriving in Estonia can be found on the homepage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: https://vm.ee/en/information-countries-and-self-isolation-requirements-passengers. The list is updated every Friday with restrictions that go into force the following Monday. If a person coming from a risk country does not do a test, he will have to restrict his movements.

Staying in self-isolation means that a person cannot leave their place of residence within 10 days, except at the order of a health care worker or police officer or for essential trips. For example, you can leave your home if your life is in danger or you need medical care, you need to renew food supplies, buy essential goods, purchase medicines, get fresh air. In all these cases, contacts with other people must be avoided. Therefore, you cannot go to work or go hiking on a populated hiking trail. But you can go outside for a run or to ride a bike, for example, if you do it without coming into contact with other people.

Will I be turned back from the border if I am ill?

If you are an Estonian citizen or resident, you will not be turned back from the border even if you have symptoms of the disease. Also, those foreign citizens, whose family members reside in Estonia, will also be allowed to enter the county.

At the border

  • your travel documents will be checked, as well as your reason for entering the country and
  • the state of your health will be visually checked.

How do the police monitor compliance with the restriction on freedom of movement?

Police provides official assistance to the Health Board in monitoring compliance with restrictions on movement. This means that when police officers see the movement restrictions set be the government being violated in the course of their every-day work, they talk with people and explain the risks involved in public gatherings. If the infringement continues, the police inform the Health Board, which may, if necessary, issue a prescriptive order and impose a penalty payment.

 

EU digital COVID test certificate

 

What is the objective of the coronavirus test certificate?

The objective of the coronavirus test certificate is to offer the user the possibility to certify a negative Sars-Cov-2 test result in three languages (Estonian, English, Russian).

What can I use the EU digital COVID test certificate for?

The COVID test certificate can be used for proving the validity of the negative SARS-CoV-2 test in the Patient Portal and it might, depending on the requirements in force in the country, be a basis for release from certain restrictions.

Where can I get my EU digital COVID test certificate?

A person who has given a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result at an Estonian health care service provider can create a certificate or reproduce a valid certificate at the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee). The certificate can be both opened and downloaded. For a check, the negative test result must be presented either in a smart device or as a paper printout.

Estonians and foreign nationals with an Estonian personal identification code who cannot create their own EU COVID certificates in the Patient Portal can submit an application for it at all the service bureaus of the Social Insurance Board. After submitting an application to a suitable service bureau of the Social Insurance Board, the EU COVID certificate will be sent to the person's e-mail address within three working days. More specific information can be found on the web page of tehik.ee.

How can I create the EU digital COVID test certificate for the person I am representing at the Patient Portal?

When you log into the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee) you can switch roles in the upper left corner in the grey background. By choosing a suitable role from there, you can create a certificate for the person you are representing.

How much does the coronavirus test certificate cost?

Creating the test certificate available at the Patient Portal is free of charge, the test must be paid for by a person himself.

Am I able to order the EU digital COVID test certificate for someone else as well?

Yes, a legal representative can create the test certificate for the person they are representing, and persons who have full representation rights at the Patient Portal can create a test certificate for their ward.

Does everyone who has done a negative Sars-Cov-2 test get an EU digital COVID test certificate?

Each person who has given a negative Sars-Cov-2 test result, for which there is a response to the referral letter in the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee, can log into the portal and create a COVID test certificate.

I do not have a smart device where I could display the EU digital COVID test certificate. Am I still able to use the test certificate?

Yes, a test certificate can be printed out and presented on paper.

How quickly after giving a negative test result can I download my EU digital COVID test certificate from the Patient Portal?

The test certificate can be created and downloaded immediately after the negative PCR test result information reaches the health information system as a response to the referral.

Do I need to turn to my family doctor to get the EU digital COVID test certificate?

No, you do not. Each person who has given a negative Sars-Cov-2 PCR test can generate their test certificate by logging into the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee).

Which countries can I enter with my EU digital COVID test certificate?

The test certificate is not a basis for entering a country, it may be a basis for a country to release you from certain restrictions, e.g. self-isolation. The restrictions in the destination country must be taken into account when travelling. Additionally, the destination country's requirements for the time of doing the test must be considered.

What kind of personal identification data does the EU digital COVID test certificate contain?

First and last name, and date of birth.

What kind of data does the digital COVID test certificate contain?

In addition to personal identification data it contains the number of the certificate; the disease for which the person was tested; the type of analysis; the time of taking the sample; the results of the analysis; the institution that did the analysis and the country where the test was done. It also contains the data of the issuer of the certificate.

How does the EU digital COVID test certificate work?

The European Union (EU) digital COVID test certificate allows to prove COVID test results based on the information in the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee. The certificate is based on the reply to the referral of a Sars-Cov-2 negative PCR test sent to the information system by a health care worker. Based on this, a certificate that meets the European Union requirements is created. The certificate can be created in the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee and can be presented either as a paper printout or digitally in a smart device (this is a document in PDF format).

For which Sars-Cov-2 test types is it possible to generate the EU digital COVID test certificate?

The European Union (EU) COVID test certificate can be created on the basis of negative results of PCR tests and rapid antigen tests meant for professional use, provided that there is a reply to the letter of referral for them in the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee.

What is the EU digital COVID test certificate?

The European Union (EU) digital COVID test certificate allows people who have given a negative SARS- CoV-2 PCR test or a rapid antigen test meant for professional use at a health care service provider in Estonia to prove their test result based on the information that is in the Patient Portal. It is possible to create a certificate about the result in the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee .

The EU digital COVID certificate can be used in all European Union member states according to the requirements in force.

Starting from October 25, 2021: People over the age of 18 who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from the disease within the past six months are not allowed to participate in organised activities taking place in checked public spaces (including entertainment, consuming on the spot in restaurants, cinema, events etc.) where the COVID certificate is required in Estonia. A certificate of a negative test is not sufficient to prove that one does not pose an infection risk. People under the age of 18 do not have to present a certificate.

 

EU digital COVID recovery certificate

 

Is there a plan to start proving recovery from COVID-19 with an antibodies test as well in the future?

Currently there is no plan to create a solution for proving recovery from COVID-19 with an antibodies test as these tests do now allow specifying when the person recovered from COVID-19. Additionally, there is no internationally unified position on the necessary level of antibodies.

What can I use as a basis for proving that I have recovered from COVID, in order to create the EU digital COVID recovery certificate?

For creating the certificate, a positive PCR test result can be used for proving recovery from the disease.

What kind of personal identification data does the EU digital COVID recovery certificate contain?

First and last name, and date of birth.

What kind of data does the digital COVID recovery certificate contain?

In addition to personal identification data, it contains the number of the certificate; the disease for which the test was done; the date of the first positive test; the country where the test was done; the dates until which the certificate is valid. It also conataints the data of the issuer.

Does everyone who has given a positive Sars-Cov-2 PCR test get an EU digital COVID recovery certificate?

Each person who has given a positive Sars-Cov-2 PCR test, for which there is a response to the referral in the health information system, can log into the Patient Portal and let the system create a recovery certificate. Keep in mind that the certificate can be created from the 11th day after the test was done. The recovery certificate is valid for 180 days from the positive test.

I do not have a smart device where I could display the EU digital COVID recovery certificate. Will I still be able to use the certificate?

Yes, the certificate can be printed out and presented on paper.

Which countries can I enter with my EU digital COVID recovery certificate?

The recovery certificate is not a basis for entering a country but can be a basis for a release from restrictions, e.g. self-isolation in the destination country. Possible restrictions in the destination country must be taken into account when travelling.

Do I need to turn to my family doctor to get the EU digital COVID recovery certificate?

No, you do not. A person who has given a positive Sars-Cov-2 PCR test can create a recovery certificate for himself by logging into the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee). A certificate can be created starting from the 11th day after doing the test.

Can I generate an EU digital COVID recovery certificate for someone else as well?

Yes, a legal representative can create a recovery certificate to the person they represent, and persons who have been full respresentation rights at the Patient Portal can create a recovery certificate for their ward.

How can I create an EU digital COVID recovery certificate for a person I am representing at the Patient Portal?

When you log into the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee) it is possible to change roles in the upper left corner on a gray background. By choosing a suitable role from there you can create a recovery certificate to the person you are representing.

How does the EU digital COVID recovery certificate work?

The EU digital COVID recovery certificate makes it possible to confirm the veracity of the information forwarded to the health information system by a health care worker. The recovery certificate is based on the response to a positive Sars-Cov-2 PCR test referral that has been sent to health information system by a health care worker. A certificate that meets the European Union requirements is created based on that. The certificate can be created from the 11th day after the test was done. A person can create the certificate and use it through the Patient Portal either as a view, a printout or a digital document (the document is in PDF format) that can be presented in a smart device.

How much does the COVID recovery certificate cost?

Creating COVID certificates is free of charge at the Patient Portal.

When am I able to generate my EU digital COVID recovery certificate?

The EU digital COVID recovery certificate can be created starting from the 11th day of the initial Sars-Cov-2 positive PCR result. The time of day is also important -- e.g. if the result has come in at 5pm, the certificate can also be created on the 11th day at 5pm.

The recovery certificate is valid for 180 days starting from when the positive test was entered into the system.

Where can I get my EU digital COVID recovery certificate?

Upon logging into the Patient Portal (www.digilugu.ee), a person who has given a positive Sars-Cov-2 PCR test result can create themselves a certificate or reproduce previously created valid certificates. A certificate can be generated from the 11th day after giving a positive test. A person can open and download the certificate in the Patient Portal. For a check, a person can present the recovery certificate in a smart device or as a paper printout.

Estonians and foreign nationals with an Estonian personal identification code who cannot create their own EU COVID certificates in the Patient Portal can submit an application for it at all the service bureaus of the Social Insurance Board. People who are turning to the Social Insurance Board must have an Estonian personal identification code and an identity document in order to create the certificate. All who wish to get the certificate can fill out the application (.docx) beforehand and print it out. The application must be taken to the suitable service bureau of the Social Insurance Board after which the EU COVID certificate will be sent to the person's e-mail address within three working days. Even though it is possible to create a vaccination certificate after only one dose, in order to participate in different events in Estonia, the course of vaccinations has to be completed. The service is free of charge to all.

What is the objective of the EU digital COVID recovery certificate?

The objective of the COVID-19 recovery certificate is to offer the user the opportunity to in three languages (Estonian, English, Russian) that they have recovered from COVID-19 based on a positive Sars-Cov-2 PCR test result.

What can I use the EU digital COVID recovery certificate for?

The COVID recovery certificate can be used for proving recovery from COVID-19 based on the positive Sars-Cov-2 PCR test information in the Patient Portal and, depending on the requirements in force, it can be a basis for release from restrictions and participation in activities or events.

What is the EU digital COVID recovery certificate?

The EU digital COVID recovery certificate is a solution that would allow a person to prove recovery from the disease. The certificate is based on a positive Sars-Cov-2 PCR test result given in Estonia, for which there health care service provider has entered the information to the health information system.

An EU COVID recovery certificate can be created for oneself in the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee starting from the 11th day after giving the first positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result. The recovery certificate is adequate for proving one's infection risk status if less than 180 days have passed since receiving a positive test result (PCR test).

 

General education, vocational education, higher education

 

Is a student allowed to do distance learning if the parent wishes for it?

Doing distance learning due to the parent's wish can happen only upon agreement with the school, provided that the school can manage it.

What should I do if somebody in a class or a study group has been diagnosed with the coronavirus?

If an unvaccinated young person who is 12-18 years old or one who turns 19 during the 2021/2022 school year comes in contact with a person who has COVID-19 at child care, kindergarten or school and is not symptomatic himself, he may continue to attend school or kindergarten but also hobby groups that are only attended by the children or youths of the same school or kindergarten. The same also applies if the close contact happened in hobby groups where only children from the same school or kindergarten participate -- in that case it is also allowed to continue going to school or kindergarten if there are no symptoms.

  • For children under the age of 12 it is enough to monitor their health condition: if there are no symptoms, the child may continue participating in academic activities and hobby activities that take place among the same circle of people.

  • An unvaccinated 12-18 year old or young person turning 19 in the course of the 2021/2022 academic year has to additionally: 1) do a SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test (the so-called rapid test) and 2) do a repeat coronavirus PCR test no later than 72 hours after the close contact was established, the results of both of which have to be negative.

A simplified quarantine always lasts for ten days and during this period the child or young person needs to refrain from informal education and hobby activities that take place outside of the school, kindergarten or child care, youth work and other activities (e.g. entertainment, going to the store etc.).

Starting from November 1, 2021: unvaccinated young people who are up to 18 years old or turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year, whose close contact was at school, during hobby activities or youth work can stay in simplified quarantine if they do a PCR test no sooner than on the 4th day after the close contact and it is negative. Until the test results come in, they have to stay home. Even if the test is negative, they are only allowed to participate in academic and educational activities, hobby activities and youth work within ten days from the close contact.

What to do if a person falls ill while at an educational institution? Simplified quarantine.

An employee who has fallen ill must inform the leadership of the institution. A student who has fallen ill must turn to a teacher or a school nurse who will inform the leadership of the institution of the child's condition. The student's parents are informed of the student having fallen ill.

Depending on the age of the child, the he is either sent home or is isolated from others in a room suitable for this under the supervision of a teacher/school nurse until a parent arrives. The person who has fallen ill and the adult who is dealing with him are given a surgical mask. If the ill person's health condition becomes dangerous (quickly rising fever, pain in the chest, shortness of breath, acute pain of a different kind etc.) and he is feeling extremely poorly, 112 must be called.

In order to better contain the spread of COVID-19, it is important that the person who has fallen ill (in the case of a student his parent or other legal representative) informs the educational institution if a COVID-19 infection is confirmed. The institution will inform members of that class or group (and parents). The notification has to be done with a sense of delicacy, without revealing the name or other identifying data of the person who has been infected. The regional department of the Health Board will contact the educational institution and inform of the confirmed diagnosis, after which the school will establish the close contacts and notify the parents.

Simplified quarantine: children and youths who are unvaccinated and asymptomatic

If an unvaccinated young person under the age of 18 or turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year comes in contact with a person who has COVID-19 in child care, kindergarten or school and is not symptomatic himself, he is allowed to keep participating in school or kindergarten but also in hobby groups that are only attended by children or youths from the same school or kindergarten. The same applies if the close contact happened in hobby groups where only children from the same school or kindergarten participate -- in that case it is also allowed to continue going to school or kindergarten if there are no symptoms.

  • For children under the age of 12 it is enough to monitor their health condition: if there are no symptoms, the child may continue participating in academic activities and hobby activities that take place among the same circle of people.

  • An unvaccinated 12-18 year old or young person turning 19 in the course of the 2021/2022 academic year has to additionally: 1) do a SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test (the so-called rapid test) and 2) do a repeat coronavirus PCR test no later than 72 hours after the close contact was established, the results of both of which have to be negative. If the first test is negative and there are no symptoms, the child does not have to stay home in between the two tests.

A simplified quarantine always lasts for ten days and during this period the child or young person needs to refrain from informal education and hobby activities that take place outside of the school, kindergarten or child care, youth work and other activities (e.g. entertainment, going to the store etc.).

Starting from November 1, 2021: unvaccinated young people who are up to 18 years old or turning 19 during the 2021/2022 academic year, whose close contact was at school, during hobby activities or youth work can stay in simplified quarantine if the take a PCR test no sooner than on the 4th day after the close contact and it is negative. Until the test results come in, they have to stay home. Even if the test is negative, it is only allowed to participate in academic and educational activities, hobby activities and youth work within ten days from the close contact.

Students who are vaccinated and recovered from COVID-19

An asymptomatic fully vaccinated student or one who has recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months does not have to stay in self-isolation if they have been a close contact and can continue with their usual activities.

Do I have to remain home if I have a chronic cough or runny nose?

Chronic diseases like asthma or allergies can cause a runny nose or a cough but generally don't necessitate staying home. As a rule, these kinds of chronic diseases are previously known and, if necessary, a parent can issue a statement confirming that the child's symptoms are not infectious. A medical certificate is not issued for a presentation of a chronic disease.

The sense of responsibility of all persons is of utmost importance and this includes guaranteeing that a child or an adult with a chronic disease is not discriminated because of their disease.

With what symptoms should I not go to school?

If symptoms of an acute upper respiratory virus (cough, runny nose, throat ache, general poorly feeling, unusual tiredness) occur, a person must stay at home immediately and contact a family health center or the family doctor advice line 1220 at the first chance to get further instructions.

It is allowed to go to school with a slight cold or cough if the student has recovered from some seasonal infection, his general condition is good but a slight leftover cold or coughing persist. If it is not clear whether the condition is infectious or non-infectious, a family health center needs to be consulted.

Is it compulsory to wear a mask in schools and other educational institutions?

It is not compulsory to wear a mask in educational institutions but we still recommended that teachers and students wear a mask, especially in commonly used spaces.

The acquisition of the necessary personal protective equipment is organised by the school in cooperation with the school administrator. The provision of personal protective equipment to youth centres is ensured by the local government, depending on the needs of the youth centres, young people, and the employees at the centre.

How should dispersion be organised in educational institutions?

Educational institutions are very strongly recommended to organise their learning and other activities in ways that reduce contacts between people. It is important to keep in mind that reducing contacts should also be a priority for educational workers and other staff.

For instance, in order to disperse students, a system where classrooms are designated to classes rather than teachers can be used, holding more classes outdoors or doing partial distance learning (e.g. by days, in some subjects) etc.

We also recommend that lunch recesses, PE classes and similar are organised in a way that would reduce contacts between groups.

The school day could start at different times in order to reduce physical contacts between students, and different classes could have recesses at different times with some made longer so that younger students can go outside. Institutions that work in multiple buildings should consider how to reduce movement of students between buildings.

If the risk of the virus increases and it becomes necessary to disperse students even more, we recommend that older grades move over to the full distance learning. Younger grades that continue contact learning can then be dispersed more within the building. It is recommended that contact learning is continued for as long as possible in younger stages of study, students who need support and students in final grades.

Can a child go to school if their parent returns from a travel?

The obligation to self-isolate does not apply to a person whose immediate family members include those who have returned from a travel within the last 10 days, or who have come into contact with a person who has been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

If, for instance, a family member arrives from a country with a high infection rate or has been in contact with a person infected with COVID-19, it does not mean that all members of their family should stay at home.

Is it allowed to organise events at school? What are the rules?

To be able to start the school year as safely as possible, it is important to keep in mind the measures necessary for stopping the spread of the virus when organising these ceremonies and other events.

A school can, for instance, limit the number of participants. If possible, we recommend organising events outdoors.

All symptomatic people must stay at home.

We would like to remind you that a school cannot demand that a parent present a COVID certificate or a negative test result in order to participate at events. A school can suggest that it is preferable that participants who come to the event are vaccinated or tested in order to reduce the probability of spreading the virus.

At ceremonies taking place indoors, we recommend observing that the occupancy of the room does not exceed 50% in order to ensure dispersion. If it is not possible for the participants to keep a distance, we recommend wearing a mask.

It is important to ensure that the rooms are well ventilated or aired out if necessary. In order to reduce the number of participants, a video broadcast of the event might be an option.

Where can I find additional information on the subject of education?

If you have any questions in the field of education, please contact:

  • the Ministry of Education and Research, information tel No. 5690 0353 and 5690 0340.

  • e-mail: info[at]hm[dot]ee

For an overview of the rules and guidelines sent to institutions under the Ministry of Education and Research, please see the website https://www.hm.ee/koroona.

Educational advisers at Rajaleidja programme of the Education and Youth Board provide advice to schools, support specialists, and parents on how to support children in the current rapidly changing situation, whether it is a matter of teaching or mental health:

 

Symptoms, suspected infection and monitoring health

 

Is there a plan to certify recovery from COVID-19 with an antibodies test as well in the future?

Currently there is no plan for a solution to prove recovery from COVID-19 with an antibodies test as there is no internationally unified position on the necessary level of antibodies. There is an agreement on the European Union level that a recovery certificate is issued only on the basis of a positive PCR test.

However, a doctor can consider a positive antibodies test as a confirmation of recovery, after which it is possible to vaccinate a person with one dose of the vaccine and then declare the course of vaccination completed (one dose out of one, 1/1). In that case, a person will receive a vaccination certificate to prove their infection risk status.

Does a person who has had the disease transmit the virus?

There is no evidence against or in favour of this as it would be very difficult to gather this evidence with scientific testing.

If this data is randomly collected from people who have had the disease, it would not be possible to make any direct conclusions based on it as there are so many different variables, e.g. where they got the virus from and how big was the amount of virus that they came into contact with; what strains were the people infected with; what are that person's own individual characteristics etc.

That is why the scientists presume that people who have had the disease (or have been vaccinated) do have the risk of transmitting the disease.

Read more: https://www.ut.ee/et/teadus/teadlaste-vastused-koroonakusimustele (in Estonian).

If the mother and the father are hospitalised, what happens to the underage child?

If this kind of a situation has occurred, the place to turn for help is the local municipality.

What to do if an employee falls ill?

  • If an employee falls ill outside of work, they must stay at home.
  • If an employee falls ill at work, they must leave immediately.
  • A person who has fallen ill should contact their family doctor, who will decide on the diagnosis of COVID-19, the need for testing and the certificate of incapacity for work.
  • In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is important that the affected employee informs the employer that the diagnosis of COVID-19 has been confirmed. The employer is informed in accordance with the agreement between the employee and the employer.
  • The employer, being informed of the employee's diagnosis of COVID-19, co-operates with the regional department of the Health Board in order to determine the employee's close contacts at work and provide guidelines for further work organisation.
  • Premises potentially contaminated with the virus must be closed and not used before being properly cleaned, disinfected and aired.
  • When cleaning rooms and surfaces, the recommendations of the Health Board for cleaning and disinfection (PDF) (in Estonian) must be followed.
  • If the diagnosis of COVID-19 is confirmed, people who were in close contact with the affected employee during the symptomatic period or up to two days before must be identified at the workplace.

Close contacts are determined by the regional department of the Health Board in co-operation with the employer.

  • Persons who have been in close contact with the infected person must closely monitor their health and stay in isolation for the next 10 days. Close contacts who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 180 days do not have to stay in self-isolation.
  • The rest of the employees can continue their daily work but should monitor their health more closely.
  • If the diagnosis of COVID-19 of an infected employee is not confirmed, other employees may continue to work, but must monitor their health for 10 days.

How long after getting the coronavirus can the test still be positive and is it allowed to go to work or school then?

The results of a patient's SARS-CoV-2 PCR analysis can be positive for several weeks after suffering through the coronavirus. That is why it is not necessary to test recovered patients in order to end the quarantine.

Even though the patient is not infectious after recovery even if he gets a positive test result, he should apply for his family doctor's opinion before returning to regular life, including to work or school. The family doctor is a medical expert whose opinion and decision must be accepted. You can find out about the guidelines of the Estonian Society of Family Doctors to family doctors here.

In order to avoid the spread of the virus in a work environment, the employer has to evaluate the probability of the occurrence of a biological hazard and, if necessary, adopt measures that would help to prevent the risk. More information from the web page of the Labour Inspectorate: "Coronavirus as a biological hazard".

When can a person be considered recovered from the coronavirus and how is it determined?

Studies have shown that an infected person is infectious up to 10 days after he becomes symptomatic. So it is necessary to stay in isolation for at least 10 days.

A person is considered recovered and can exit isolation if

  • he has been without a fever for at least 72 hours and
  • the symptoms of an acute infection have receded.

The decision about recovery is made by a doctor.

No repeat test is done to patients who have had the SARS-CoV-2 infection and been declared recovered.

If a person has been hospitalised, getting declared recovered depends on his condition. Generally, hospitals recommend staying at home for another two weeks after being released from the hospital. This does not apply to persons who have light symptoms but have still been hospitalised for some reason.

The virus can be detected in a laboratory for even up to 37 days but the patient is not infectious anymore.

Staying in isolation for 10 days is necessary even if all the symptoms disappear in a few days. This helps to prevent the spread of the virus.

All instructions come from the family doctor or the treating physician both when recovering at home and in a hospital. The doctors' recommendations must be followed.

How can I protect myself against the coronavirus?

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19: by vaccinating against the coronavirus we can more back towards the regular order of life. More information on where and how to get vaccinated can be found at the vaktsineeri.ee web page and from the state helpline 1247.

  • Wash your hands: hands should be washed with soap under warm running water, use hand disinfectant, if necessary.

  • Move in a dispersed manner: keep a distance with other people when in a public indoor space. Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or sneezing. By standing too close to a symptomatic person you can get infected as well.

  • Avoid touching you eyes, nose and mouth: if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands, there is a chance that the virus will be transmitted to you.

  • Find help early: if you have a fever, cough or difficulties breathing, find help early. Monitor your health and stay home. Call your family doctor or to the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220.

  • Follow respiratory hygiene: if you sneeze or cough, cover your nose and mouth with a single use tissue. Throw it into the bin immediately after, and then clean your hands. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (the inside of your elbow), but do not use your bare hand.

  • Wear a mask: a mask must be worn in public indoor spaces where a COVID certificate is not required and where everyone who wants to can enter (e.g. shopping centers, public transport etc.). Covering the nose and mouth stops the viruses from spreading further. If you sneeze into your bare hand, the viruses can transfer from you to other people and objects that you touch.

What does this virus do to the organism?

The symptoms of the coronavirus and their severity vary greatly. Some people are asymptomatic, some develop severe pneumonia, for people in a risk group the disease might end in death.

For most people infected with the coronavirus, the progression of the disease is mild and they heal.

The virus risk group includes the elderly and people with chronic diseases, who exhibit the severe forms of the disease more frequently.

When is it safe to return to the society after the symptoms of the disease have passed?

A person is infectious up to 10 days after the first symptoms of the disease have appeared.

A person is declared healed if she has no fever for at least three days and symptoms of a respiratory tract infection (particularly a cough and a sore throat) have dissipated.

The decision about being healed and able to return to the society is made by the family doctor.

What should I do if I suspect that I have been infected or if I have COVID-19?

If you are COVID-19 positive or suspect that you have been infected, stay home if you have any kind of symptoms. Avoid contact with other people, follow hand and respiratory hygiene. If at all possible, have all essentials delivered to you at home contact free.

If you suspect that you have been infected with the coronavirus:

  • Contact your family doctor. The family doctor will evaluate the need for testing, give medical advice and will also start a certificate of incapacity for work or a certificate for care leave (the so-called certificate for sick leave). If you are unable to contact your family doctor, call the Family Doctor's Advice Line 1220 (634 66 30). The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7, advice is given in Estonian and Russian (advice in English every day from 15.00 to 17.00).
  • If the family doctor decides that testing is necessary, you will be given a digital referral. Make sure that your family doctor has your correct phone number so that the testing centre could contact you.
  • Once the referral has been submitted, you can book a testing appointment for yourself. Adults get an SMS along with a link to the National Booking System to the phone number on the referral. In the online booking system of the testing centre you can identify yourself with an ID card or Mobile ID and book your own appointment. If you do not wish to use the online registry system or the SMS does not reach you for some reason, wait for a call from the testing centre -- the testing centre is making calls in the order the referrals reached them. Testing takes place on weekends and public holidays as well.
  • Go to testing on time and make sure to take an identification document with you -- you can give a nasopharyngeal sample only on the basis of a digital referral and an identification document. You should go to testing alone. More information about testing can be found on the web page of the Health Board. If you have questions, you can turn to the testing call centre (+372) 646 4848 (Monday to Friday 9-17).
  • After giving the sample, stay home and wait for the results. You will receive the results within two working days. If the result was positive, you will get a phone call and you can see the results yourself in the Patient Portal digilugu.ee.

Foreigners and people who do not have health insurance have to contact the nearest family health centre if they become symptomatic. If there is cause to suspect an upper respiratory virus (fever, dry cough, difficulties breathing), the patients are served regardless of whether they belong to the family doctor's list or not.

If you have COVID-19:

  • If your test result was positive, you have to remain in self-isolation at home. Follow the recommendations of the family doctor, you can also find advice on how to treat the coronavirus at home from the guidelines of the Health Board (in Estonian). If your health condition worsens suddenly, call 112.
  • Make sure to inform your close contacts. Close contacts must remain in self-isolation for 10 days, except if they have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months or no more than a year has passed since getting vaccinated against the disease. More specific instructions on how to determine close contacts can be found on the web page of the Health Board.
  • The Health Board will contact you at first chance to determine the circumstances of your infection. See the questions that the official will ask you -- if possible, think them through even before the Health Board's call.
  • If you are using the HOIA app, mark your infection in the app as well.
  • As an infected person you have to stay in self-isolation for at least ten days. You have to remain in a 10-day isolation even if the symptoms disappear in a few days. This will help to prevent the disease from spreading.
  • Recovery is decided by a doctor -- generally you are declared healthy if you have not had a fever for at least 72 hours and acute symptoms of the virus have receded.

If the results of your corona test were positive but you have no symptoms:

  • Stay home. Avoid contacts with other people and follow hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • If no symptoms appear, the isolation is ended after 10 days have passed since the positive test. The day of taking the test is considered Day 0. Isolation is ended by a doctor.
  • If symptoms appear during isolation, the isolation restarts from when the symptoms appeared and the patient is a symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive.

How can I take out the garbage while in isolation?

In single family, detached homes it is simple – keep an eye on the waste sorting requirements and take the waste to the container. In apartment buildings it is more complicated, and the best thing to do would be to not go outside your apartment during isolating. However, if it seems that the collected waste is starting to become visibly and perceptibly problematic, ask for someone’s help in getting it to the container. This means that the waste must be sealed in a plastic bag and the bag placed outside the apartment door, while wearing disposable gloves. Someone, also wearing protective gear, will then take it away.

 

Travelling abroad from Estonia

 

I am not vaccinated against COVID-19 -- am I now unable to go to other countries?

A valid vaccination certificate is not a basis for travelling abroad but, depending on the requirements of the destination country, may offer an exemption from certain restrictions that the country has enacted (e.g. self-isolation).

The requirements of the destination country for entering, the conditions for the self-isolation obligation, and restrictions in force on the spot need to be taken into account when travelling. Information on the conditions for entry into other countries can be found on the Reisi Targalt website (in Estonian).

Do pilots also have the obligation to self-isolate and test after crossing the border?

Pilots fall under an exception in force, according to which they are not subject to the obligations to self-isolate and test if they are directly involved with international freight or passenger transport and are arriving in Estonia to perform professional duties.

Am I allowed to use for travelling the results of a corona test done with a family doctor's referral?

No, you are not. Testing with a family doctor's referral is aimed only at symptomatic persons. It is necessary for the quick identification and isolating of infected persons, in order to limit further spread of the virus. Doing a test with a family doctor's referral or as a close contact is free for an individual and the costs of the test are covered by the state.

A paid test necessary for travelling can be done at a service provider convenient for you. More information about the service providers can be found here: https://koroonatestimine.ee/en/for-patients/paid-testing/

It is possible to check on the border whether the passenger has paid for the test himself or used a family doctor's referral. An order number is automatically displayed on the certificate necessary for travelling.

If a person has done a corona test on the tenth day of being a close contact and the results are negative, she can use this test for travelling as well.

Similarly, if a person has returned from a foreign country and done two corona tests to shorten the period of self-isolation, the last test can be used for going back (i.e. as a pre-trip negative test).

Where is it possible to find information on travelling between Estonia and Finland?

Information about entry into the country, transit and testing on the border can be found here: https://reisitargalt.vm.ee/riigid/soome/ (in Estonian).

What conditions apply to travelling between Estonia and Latvia?

Information on travelling to Latvia and restrictions in Latvia can be found on the Reisi Targalt (Smart Travel) web page: https://reisitargalt.vm.ee/riigid/lati/ (in Estonian).

I have health insurance. What do I need to know about health insurance when travelling in the European Union?

If you are going on holiday, you should take your European Health Insurance Card with you, as it is important if you have a health problem abroad. People from Estonia who have the European Health Insurance Card can get the medical help they need in the European Union and also in Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland on the same terms as insured people who live in those countries.

The card can be ordered digitally from the state portal eesti.ee and is free of charge.

To get medical treatment, you should present your European Health Insurance Card or a replacement certificate for it and an identity document at a medical institution. The card only entitles you to medical assistance at public healthcare institutions.

NB! Please note that the European Health Insurance Card does not necessarily cover all the costs of the medical care you need. You must pay yourself for visitation fees, bed fees, co-payments for medicines, translation costs, etc at the prices of the country you are in. The card does not cover the cost of international transport or the costs of a private doctor. We recommend that when you travel you should sign a travel insurance contract with an insurance company to cover your costs, depending on the insurance conditions.

For more information see: https://www.haigekassa.ee/en/kontaktpunkt/healthcare-eu-and-elsewhere/european-health-insurance-card

I wish to travel abroad. How can I get information about entry to other countries?

Information about entry conditions to other countries can be found on the Reisi Targalt website (in Estonian).

When travelling, it is recommended to adhere to the following principles:

  • before planning a trip, check the information about the infection rate of the country of destination on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • you can find out about travel restrictions in the destination country from the Reisi Targalt website (in Estonian), the European Union ReOpen portal, and in more detail from a foreign representation of the destination country;
  • register your trip on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reisi Targalt website, so we could inform you about possible crises;
  • follow the recommendations of the Health Board for a safe flight, if you get symptoms, postpone your trip and contact your family doctor;
  • purchase travel insurance and familiarise yourself with all the conditions (including for any travel disruptions caused by COVID-19);
  • when crossing the border, it is obligatory to fill out a declaration which can also be done electronically. The declaration can be filled out 24 hours before arrival in Estonia: iseteenindus.terviseamet.ee. Please hold on to the notification letter that you receive on your e-mail after you have filled out the form! The declarations can still also be filled out on paper, which you can find here (.docx in Estonian).
  • follow the instructions of local authorities in the country of stay and find out about possible new restrictions.
  • follow the rules in force in Estonia when returning from your trip, contact your family doctor in case of suspicion of the virus.
  • Any country may change the conditions for entry and stay in the country with a very short notice. For more detailed information on the conditions of the country of destination, we recommend contacting the foreign representation or authorities of the relevant country.

More information on the coronavirus and movement restrictions from the state information line 1247 (+372 600 1247 when calling from abroad).

Will maritime traffic continue between Estonia and Finland or Estonia and Sweden?

Maritime traffic continues, but you should always check with the shipping line if this specific route is operational.

Could an Estonian citizen or resident with a job in Russia exceptionally cross the border for work?

The conditions for entering Russia can be seen on the Reisi Targalt (Smart Travel) web page: https://reisitargalt.vm.ee/riigid/venemaa (in Estonian)

Further information on crossing the Russian border is available from the information lines of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs +7(495) 587 8860, +7(499) 244 1977, +7 (499) 244 1988 and +7(499) 244 2847.

  • We recommend consulting with the Russian embassy if there are any questions about the objectives for travelling with exceptions and repeated border crossings (visiting close relatives who live abroad, sports competitions, cultural events etc.) or possible restrictions set to leaving the country.

 

Medical care, pharmacies

 

Are rehabilitation services being provided?

The restrictions do not apply to the provision of healthcare services, including rehabilitation services. For rehabilitation services it is also allowed to use swimming pools in healthcare institutions.

Where can a foreign national receive health advice in English if they do not have a family doctor in Estonia?

A foreign national staying in Estonia can get advice in case of simpler health problems, instructions for first aid and, if necessary, information on health care organisation by calling the family doctor's information line at +372 6346630 (free of charge if the foreign national has a contract with a local telephone operator and a certain amount of call minutes are part of the contract), when in Estonia, calling the helpline 1220 (price per minute 30 cents in Elisa network, 23 cents per call minute in Tele2 network and 22.78 cents per call minute in Telia network). Caller waiting list may be up to 45 minutes.

On the family doctor's information line, family doctors and family nurses provide advice 24/7 hours a day in both Estonian and Russian. Advice in English is offered every day from 3 pm to 5 pm.

In case of symptoms of the coronavirus, foreign nationals staying in Estonia, and persons without health insurance must contact the nearest family doctor centre. If viral diseases of the upper respiratory tract are suspected (fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing), patients are treated whether they are on the patient list of this centre or not - this is an emergency aid that every general physician must provide. The family doctor then decides whether a test for coronavirus is required.

It is also possible to take coronavirus test for a fee, without consulting a family doctor. There are several testing service providers who offer tests for a fee: Confido https://broneerimine.confido.ee/ , Medicum https://www.medicum.ee/ , SYNLAB https://minu.synlab.ee/toode/koroonaviiruse-maaramine , Qvalitas Arstikeskus https://qvalitas.ee/et/ - this is not an exhaustive lists.

How is medical care guaranteed to people without health insurance?

During the emergency situation, treatment for the virus is considered emergency care to which uninsured persons are entitled during regular times as well (emergency room, ambulance). If an uninsured person suspects that she might be infected, she can contact the nearest family health centre by phone. From there, a person is sent to testing, if necessary, and is given instructions on how to act upon her health concerns. An invoice is presented to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and the person does not have to pay the fee herself. You can find more info on how to get health insurance from here.

Where should a foreigner who does not have a family doctor in Estonia turn to in order to get tested for the coronavirus?

Foreign nationals and persons without health insurance residing in Estonia must contact the nearest family health centre if they display symptoms. Through the family doctor, all patients with symptoms of upper respiratory viral diseases are referred for testing, regardless of age, co-morbidities and health insurance, including patients who are not on the family doctor's list.

Patients with symptoms of upper respiratory viral disease (regardless if they have a family doctor on register or not) can also turn to the Family Doctor’s Advice Line 1220 (24/7, including public holidays), where a doctor will refer them for coronavirus testing, if necessary (letters of referral will be issued from Monday to Sunday 8.00 to 22.00). On the family doctor's helpline, family doctors and family nurses provide advice in both Estonian and Russian. Advice in English is offered every day from 3 pm to 5 pm.

Testing is performed for a fee for foreigner nationals, at the airport and ports it costs 52 Euros, elsewhere according to the service provider's price list (ranging from 58-75 Euros). Testing for a charge is done by:

More detailed information can also be found at www.koroonatestimine.ee.

Important information:

  • It is mandatory to wear a mask when coming to give a sample.
  • It is necessary to come to give the sample at the exact agreed upon time (not earlier or later).
  • Results are usually returned within 24 to 48 hours after the sample has been given, in a manner agreed upon by the institution that performed the test;
  • To people with an Estonian personal identification code the results are also accessible in the digilugu.ee environment.
  • The laboratory reports the test results to the Health Board, which contacts people who have tested positive.
  • The Health Board recommends remaining in self-isolation until the results have returned.

How are the visits to specialists organised in health care institutions?

Hospitals and health care facilities have different requirements for admissions, examinations, and procedures. For instance, they might require a prior negative corona test or wearing a mask.

Detailed information on the requirements of a health care institution can be found on the website of the medical institution or calling the institution´s information number. You can also contact your family doctor or call the family doctor hotline 1220.

In healthcare facilities, it is obligatory to keep your distance, wash, or disinfect your hands, wear a mask. It is recommended to use the HOIA mobile app.

People diagnosed with the coronavirus, as well as their family members or other people living with them, must stay at home.

 

Public order, work of courts and prisons, rescue management

 

In the future, will the police get the right to enter my dwelling and remove me by force?

No, they will not.

Involuntary treatment has been mentioned in the law already in force but it can only take place in extraordinary cases and with the court's permission. The law foresees very strict limits for when a certain measure can be enacted against a person and this has only been used for treating tuberculosis patients.

In enacting each measure, its proportionality, expediency and purposefulness are evaluated. According to the Law Enforcement Act currently in force, a dwelling can be entered only if certain criteria are present (generally if there is a serious threat, and if someone's health and safety are in danger due to their helpless condition). Entering a dwelling is a measure of last resort and a dwelling can be examined only with prior permission of an administrative court.

What are the COVID-19 prevention measures in prisons? What rules must be followed at visitations? How to get information about the health of a loved one who is in prison?

Due to the high risk level of the spread of the coronavirus, the visitors coming to the prisons are subject to stricter requirements regarding proving their infection risk status.

Coming to a short term visit that is separated by glass is allowed for a visitor who:

  • has completed the course of COVID-19 vaccination;
  • has recovered from the coronavirus within the past six months; or
  • presents an EU digital COVID certificate stating that a health care service provider has done a SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test or a SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test to him no more than 72 hours prior and the result of the test was negative.

The following conditions must be met by a person who comes to a short term visit in a room without a glass:

  • has completed the course of COVID-19 vaccinations;
  • has recovered from the coronavirus within the past six months;
  • or presents the prison with a medical certificate proving that vaccination is not indicated for them due to health considerations. In that case, the visitor has to supplement this with a digital EU COVID certificate proving a negative coronavirus test result from a SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test or a SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test that has been administered by a health care service provider within 72 hours of the visitation.

Unlike at a meeting that is separated by glass, the prisoner and the visitor come into physical contact at a meeting that is not separated by glass, increasing the risk of infection at the prison.

A long-term visitation is permitted to a visitor who:

  • has completed the course of COVID-19 vaccinations;
  • has recovered from the coronavirus within the past six months; or
  • presents the prison with a medical certificate proving that vaccination is not indicated for them due to health considerations. In that case, the visitor has to supplement this with a digital EU COVID certificate proving a negative coronavirus test result from a SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test or a SARS-CoV-2 antigen-RTD test that has been administered by a health care service provider within 72 hours of the visitation.

Upon coming to a visit, in order to prove that she does not pose an infection risk, the visitor herself has to present the prison with a digital or printed out certificate proving vaccination, recovery, or a negative test result. Children under the age of 12 do not have to present a certificate.

The close ones of incarcerated persons can ask for information about registering for a visit:

  • from Tallinn Prison by calling 612 7539,
  • from Tartu Prison by calling 750 0839,
  • from Viru Prison by calling 663 7900.

In order to get information about a close one, we ask that the question be sent to the address of the relevant prison in a digitally signed form:

The close ones are given information on the condition that the prisoner has authorised this. After the prison has ascertained the identity of the asker and been given the prisoner's authorisation to share his or her health information with the close one, the prison will give an answer to the questions pertaining to the prisoner's health by the end of the next working day at the latest.

See more from www.vangla.ee .

What are the rules of procedure for courts?

The work of the courts is based on the principle that it would be safe to come to a courthouse.

Dispersion requirements apply in the courtroom, it is mandatory to use personal protective equipment and all who have fallen ill must stay at home.

If a party to the proceedings is ill, they have to provide this information, and then the judge shall decide how to proceed.

Do police officers responding to an incident have the necessary protective equipment to prevent infection?

Police officers are provided with the necessary personal protective equipment: rubber gloves and protective masks, as well as disinfectants. When a police officer comes into contact with a person showing some signs of illness, the latter, i.e. the person with signs of illness, is given a protective mask to prevent the further spread of infection.

Will the rescue service help me in an accident if I or a person close to me is infected?

If you are very seriously ill, please make sure to alert the alarm center by calling 112. In addition to the rescuers, an ambulance will also be sent to you. Aid is certainly guaranteed to all those in need of it.

Does the rescue officer responding to an event have the necessary protective equipment to prevent infection?

Every rescue car has protective masks, rubber gloves and disinfectants. Vehicles and rescue equipment are being cleaned regularly. All rescuers have received instructions on how to avoid the risk of infection, how to act on the scene, and what tools to use.

How can I be sure that an official of the Estonian Rescue Board carrying out a home fire safety visit is not infected?

All hygiene rules and distance maintenance rules will be observed in the course of home counselling, and a person also always has the right to refuse home counselling.

Will the police come to help me if I get sick, or if a member of my family gets sick?

Yes, the police will come to help you if your life, health or property is at risk. When calling the emergency number, you should let the first responders know if you, or any member of your family has been infected with the coronavirus, so that the police will know to take this into account.

 

Exams at general education schools

 

Is it necessary to pass a student research paper, practical work or a school examination in order to graduate from upper secondary school?

In the academic year 2020/21, passing state examinations, internationally recognized examinations that substitute them, an upper secondary school examination, and a student research paper or practical work are not preconditions for graduating from upper secondary school.

The school staff council has the right to assess whether passing a student research paper or practical work is possible due to the emergency situation. If the school has decided that it is not possible, a student will be able to graduate from upper secondary school without passing a student research paper or practical work and the results report will say "passing was not possible";

If the school staff council did not take the abovementioned decision but the student did not pass a student research paper, practical work or a school examination, the graduation certificate will say "did not pass". Regardless, it will still be possible to graduate.

What happens if a student is sick or in self-isolation during the state examination?

The student may take the examination during an additional examination time slot. If the examinee wishes to participate in the additional examination time slot of a state examination, they have to make sure to submit an application to the Education and Youth Board within three working days of the main examination taking place.

 

Support measures to enterprises

 

Where can I find information on the support directed at mitigating the economic losses caused by the coronavirus crisis?

The Government has decided to support the people and enterprises in the fields that have suffered from the COVID-19 restrictions. In order to get aid from the support measures, an application needs to be submitted to the corresponding agency. The summary of information can be found here: https://valitsus.ee/en/node/24880

What kind of subsidies does Enterprise Estonia offer and to who?

The tourism sector will get a further €8 million in support, complemented by the €1.9 million of surplus from the spring tourism sector support.

The application period for accommodation providers and the catering establishments in Tallinn Old Town is from March 29, 9.00 to April 8, 16.00.

The application period for travel companies and land transport companies, and sellers of handicrafts, souvenirs and Estonian design is from March 30, 9.00 to April 8, 16.00.

More information on who qualify for the subsidies and how the application takes place can be found on the web page of Enterprise Estonia: https://www.eas.ee/covid-19-eng/?lang=en

What additional services does KredEx offer to companies affected by the crisis?

The aim of the KredEx measures is to help to either pre-empt or mitigate the liquidity problems of companies.

According to the decision of the Government, Kredex will get €180 million to give out extraordinary loan sureties and working capital loans in order to help companies overcome liquidity problems, including, if necessary, to make bank loan payments. KredEx will be opening the support measures as soon as possible.

More information is available on the website of KredEx.

 

Welfare, benefits, victim and child protection

 

Does a quarantined care home have the right to restrict the movement of their residents? Can the residents be restrained, for example, and be prevented from leaving the room by locking their doors?

The care home must ensure that infected and non-infected residents would not come into contact with each other. In order to do this, the residents with the coronavirus diagnosis and symptoms must be separated from other residents. If there are infected people in the care home, the movement of residents between rooms and different sections is not allowed. The residents must be informed of the restrictions, and if necessary, the information must be repeated.

Healthy residents of the care home need to be able to go outside. It is certainly not right to lock people up indoors but the care home residents need to be explained in a manner comprehensible for them, why they cannot move around without restrictions during the quarantine, and if needed, the information must be repeated.

What are the rules in force for self-help groups (e.g. Narcotics Anonymous, co-addicts etc.)?

As this is not a public event, nor is it an activity that goes under hobby education, the activities of self-help groups have not been regulated. Still, we recommend taking precautions: wearing a mask indoors, following the 2+2 rule, making disinfectants available and following the disinfection requirements.

Can I apply for the subsistence benefit or needs-based benefit during the emergency situation?

Yes, applications can be submitted by e-mail or as a letter to the local government. The social worker can be consulted by telephone. Exceptionally, the necessary documents may also be submitted retrospectively.

How can I get assistance in purchasing food and medicines?

  • Ask your family, friends, or neighbours for help.
  • A person who is alone is assisted by the local municipality that helps to organise the delivery of food and medicines to those in need (see an overview of possible social services: eesti.ee).
  • Volunteers working in different environments (see e.g. Helpific.com) as well as some community associations can assist the elderly and those in risk groups can be assisted in getting food and medicines, and in other daily activities.

How can a person living alone, e.g. an elderly person with no relations, order food and medicines to their home?

First contact should be the local government who helps to organize the delivery of food and medicines to everybody in need of assistance. You can find the contact information of the local governments from the web pages of the rural municipality and city governments.

Additionally, there are volunteers who offer help with delivering food and medicines. For instance, you can find the support environment Helpific online at www.helpific.com. The volunteers of Helpific's web-based support environment offer help to the elderly and high-risk people who need assistance to get food and medicines to their homes. The volunteers also offer to help with daily tasks, household work, getting to the doctor and rehab etc.

If you need help then:

  • call the Helpific support line at 5660 4642 and notify of your wish for help. If you wish to have food delivered to your home, put together a list of products you need and give it to the help line along with your contact information, or
  • enter the Helpific support environment at Helpific.com, fill out your profile and write down your wish for help.

What happens if there is a suspected outbreak of the virus at the nursing home?

If anybody in the nursing care home develops coronavirus-like symptoms, they will be isolated immediately and tested. The family members of the infected person will be notified.

Anyone who has been in contact with the infected person will be also isolated for 14 days and their health will be closely monitored. If an employee, who did not use the personal protective equipment came into contact with the infected person, they will be sent home.

Essentially, the care home will be divided into two parts:

  • In one part there are people with coronavirus symptoms or positive test results.
  • In the other part, there are people without the symptoms or negative test results. The employees cannot move from one part of the house to another, nobody who is on the “healthy” side can visit the residents on the other side, who are in isolation.

If possible, every patient will have a room with a radio and the TV for the duration of the isolation. If they have a mild case of the disease, they may remain at the nursing care home even if they have tested positive for the coronavirus. Their health status will be continuously monitored, and if the condition should deteriorate, the ambulance will be called.

The room of the person with suspected infection will be disinfected. All the employees will use face masks, protective gowns, and gloves.

Will the home service provision continue? Yes, the local authorities will continue with the provision of home services for the people who need these services also during the current emergency situation. Home services will help people with their daily tasks and handling of various activities.

Will I get help in case of domestic violence during the emergency situation?

Yes, the work of victim support and the work of Women´s support centres will continue also during the emergency situation for people who have become victims of a crime, suffer from negligence or maltreatment, or physical, mental, or sexual abuse. Due to the emergency situation the social isolation and insufficient contacts with family and friends test the relationships and there is a danger for increased domestic violence.

  • Victim support staff of the Social Insurance Board can be contacted by telephone, Skype video calls and e-mails. Contacts can be found on the Social Security Insurance Board website.
  • Both people in need of the assistance and the assistance providers can call 24/7 the victim support crisis hotline 116006. The service is free of charge to the caller and the help is provided any time of the day. The caller may remain anonymous if they wish to do so. The service is provided in Estonian, Russian, and English. Victim support crisis hotline also provides support for all the specialists needing advice on psychosocial crisis assistance.
  • Women's support centres are located in all counties and continue to assist victims of violence also during the emergency situation. Women's support centres monitor the requirements of the Health Board in their work and are also ready to provide consultations by telephone. Contact information for Women's support centres can be found on the Social Insurance Board website and by calling victim support crisis hotline 116 006.

How can a parent get advice and support during the emergency situation?

For all the questions and concerns regarding children it is possible to call the Child Helpline 116 111 or contact www.lasteabi.ee.

If your family or child needs assistance or support services, contact the child protection worker of the local government; their contacts can be found on the website of your city or rural municipality or via general information hotline. Regardless of the emergency situation, child protection activities, and services for children and families will continue.

Child protection workers can help the family if:

  • the child refuses to study or cooperate with parents,
  • the child is worried or depressed and the parent is unable to help,
  • family relations have become complicated,
  • child has a difficult relationship with the school,
  • parents need support with parenting skills,
  • the child has special needs,
  • the family needs financial support,
  • the family needs some other kind of support or assistance.

During the emergency situation, a child protection worker can still make home visits, if this is essential for ensuring the well-being of the child.

Will the emergency situation change the parental access arrangements for parents and children?

The agreements on the parental access and the related court orders apply also during the emergency situation. Their implementation must be guided by the purpose of emergency restrictions. If the other parent, or a member of their family is ill, or suspected of being ill, then contacts with them should be avoided.

In any case, the rules of emergency situation must be respected, i.e. infected persons and persons suspected of having the infection need to self-isolate for 10 days or until recovery, and avoid contacts with other people, including their children.

It is extremely important to maintain reasonable cooperation between the parents during the emergency situation, it is important to be flexible, and respect the interests of the children, not endangering the health of the child or the family members.

How can I maintain my mental health during the crisis and how can get help if I need it?

  • Be kind to yourself and to others around you! Take into account that adapting to a new situation can be stressful for everyone.
  • Develop a daily routine: get enough sleep, maintain a healthy lifestyle, establish fixed working and rest times.
  • Be there for the others! Call every day to a few friends or family members, check how they are doing.
  • If you are concerned about your mental health, talk to someone you trust.
  • If you are taking any medication to support your mental health, do not stop taking it.
  • Child support telephone: 116 111 and www.lasteabi.ee offers support to children and adolescents.
  • Psychological first aid can be reached at the national crisis hotline 1247. In order to provide assistance, the specialists of the Social Insurance Board victim support crisis hotline 116 006 have been involved.

Over the phone you get advice on how to maintain the mental health of yourself and others during the crisis. People are welcome to call if they are concerned about their loved ones and want to discuss how to provide them with better emotional support. Everybody is welcome to call, including people fighting the virus on the frontline, doctors, nurses, policemen, rescuers, teachers, etc., to support their ability to continue their work and prevent the burnout. You can call and speak in Estonian, Russian or English 24/7. People who prefer not to call can be advised over internet at https://www.palunabi.ee/.

Spiritual guidance is available from the spiritual guidance phoneline 116 123. Everyone is welcome to call, regardless of religion and worldview, to receive support to alleviate the psychological crisis caused by diseases, accidents or living situations and to create a sense of security.

  • The website https://peaasi.ee offers web-based mental health counselling.
  • Contact your family doctor who can refer you to a specialist.
  • If necessary, contact your psychologist or psychiatrist.

 

Vaccination plan and risk groups

 

Will uninsured people who are in the risk group but not listed at the Health Insurance Fund remain unvaccinated at present?

The list of people in the risk group also includes those people who are currently not covered by health insurance. The goal is to vaccinate all persons who live in the country and from the vaccination perspective the health insurance makes no difference. The list of people in the risk group includes patients with certain diseases.

What should be done if you are not in a risk group yourself but have to care for a person who is in a risk group?

In addition to vaccinating people in risk groups, the family doctor also has the possibility to vaccinate the carers of people in risk groups or people who live in the same household as a person in a risk group. Vaccinating the carer is definitely necessary if, for instance, it is not possible to vaccinate the person in a risk group himself.

Starting from April 2021, the one-dose Janssen vaccine that has arrived in Estonia is making it possible to vaccinate the people who cannot go to the family health centre themselves. These vaccinations are carried out by home nurses. In the course of a home visit, the home nurses can also vaccinate the carers and household members of a risk group person.

When and how will the Estonian citizens who work abroad, including the civil servants, be vaccinated?

If the foreign country allows vaccinating Estonian citizens there, the Estonian citizen working abroad has the possibility to get vaccinated there. Vaccination is also possible in Estonia, in accordance with the vaccination plan.

Will the vaccine save me if I am already sick and in a serious condition?

Vaccination will be postponed if the patient is severely ill with COVID-19.

Having had COVID-19 or seropositivity (i.e if there already is a determinable amount of antibodies in the blood) is not a contraindication to vaccination:

People who have had COVID-19 should be vaccinated with only one dose of the vaccine, preferably in the sixth month after recovery. After that the course of vaccination should be considered completed. Even if more than 6 months have passed since recovery, only one dose of the vaccine should be administered in order to ensure long-term protection.

People who get COVID-19 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine will not be administered the second dose and are considered vaccinated for the following six months.

Can a person who has cancer and is receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy be vaccinated and if they can, which of the vaccines would be suitable?

Oncological diseases are not contraindicated for vaccination. Vaccination is particularly indicated for oncological patients as they have a very high risk of severe progression of the COVID-19 disease. All vaccines in use in Estonia are suitable for vaccinating oncological patients.

A person who has only a benign tumour does not belong in the risk group, for that there would need to be additional indicators like, for instance, age. The final decision is, of course, left to the family doctor who can take into account the person's current state of health, as it can change.

Who is being vaccinated and who is not?

The contraindications to the vaccine are hypersensitivity to the active ingredient or the exipients of the vaccine.

  • Being recovered from COVID-19 or seropositivity are not contraindications for vaccinations. It is recommended that people who have had COVID-19 should be vaccinated with one dose of the vaccine, preferably on the sixth month after recovery, after which the course of vaccination is considered completed. Even if more than six months have passed since recovery, only one dose of the vaccine is administered in order to ensure long-term protection. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 and gotten vaccinated after that have a 20 times smaller chance of getting infected again.
  • For people suffering from severe frailty syndrome, are in a very bad general condition or nearing the end of their life, even mild side effects (e.g. fever, nausea and vomiting) can have an adverse effect and fasten the arrival of death. If a person's life expectancy is shorter than the period of protection received with the vaccine, it is not feasible to vaccinate that person. The costs and benefits of vaccinating a person like that need to be evaluated very carefully and on an individual basis.
  • Close contacts may be vaccinated against COVID-19 after the quarantine period ends.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: the protection that the vaccine offers against getting sick outweighs all the vaccination-related risks for women who are planning to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding. The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), where the Estonian Gynaecologists' Society is also a member, supports vaccinating pregnant and breastfeeding mothers against COVID-19, taking into consideration the risk of infection, the size of the pregnancy, the mother's health condition etc.
  • Fertility: the COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility or reduction in fertility.
  • Hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis: people who experienced anaphylaxis after receiving the first dose of vaccine cannot be administered the second dose.
  • Concurrent disease: vaccination must be postponed for all persons suffering from severe diseases with high fever or acute infection. It is not necessary to postpone vaccinations for people who have a mild infection and/or small fever.
  • Thrombocytopenia and coagulation disorders: the COVID-19 vaccine must be carefully administered to people who are receiving anticoagulation treatments or who have thrombocytopenia or other coagulation disorders (e.g. haemophilia), as bleeding or bruising might occur for them after an intramuscular injection.
  • People who have immunodeficiency: the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine could be lower for people who have immunodeficiency, thus the state immunoprophylaxis expert committee recommends vaccinating them with an additional dose (so-called third shot).

If you need further counselling on the COVID-19 vaccinations, we recommend consulting with your family doctor or calling the Family Doctors' Advice Line 1220 or 634 66 30. The calls are answered by medical professionals 24/7. Advice is given in Estonian and Russian (in English every day between 15.00 and 17.00).

If an elderly person is bedridden at home, will a mobile vaccination unit come to him?

Starting from April 26, 2021, the providers of nursing services are providing at-home vaccinations for those people for whom it is complicated to move to the family doctor, or who have a serious condition that makes them unable to go to get vaccinated by themselves.

The vaccination is free of charge for a person and vaccinations will start with people who are 60 years old and older.

The family doctor should definitely be notified about possible obstacles to going to get vaccinated, including about the need to receive the vaccination at home. The family doctor will add the persons who need to be vaccinated at home to a list and will then forward this information to the provider of nursing services.

The provider of nursing services will contact the person receiving the vaccine and arrange a time.

The vaccine used is the COVID-19 vaccine of the Johnson&Johnson subsidiary Janssen, as that vaccine only requires one shot to complete the course of vaccinations.

Along with a person at home who has mobility issues, it is also possible to vaccinate the caretakers of that person.

 

Bird flu

 

Is the bird flu contagious for humans?

Certain strains (e.g. H5N1) can be dangerous for humans as well. In Estonia, the probability of the bird flu spreading from human to human is very low.

What if I find a dead bird in the water or on ice?

The officials cannot put their health at risk while collecting birds. The Agricultural and Food Board only collects the dead birds that are on land.

How quickly are the dead birds collected?

At first chance. The Agriculture and Food Board is organising the collection and proper destruction of water fowl and birds of prey taht have been found dead. We ask for your understanding and calmness as there might be notifications of several dead birds from the same area and the collection of those is being dealt with.

What should I do if I find a dead wild bird?

If you find dead water fowl (geese, swans), a number of dead wild birds, or a corpse of a dead bird of prey (hawks, eagles), you need to notify of this by calling the information line +372 605 4767.

Why is it forbidden to collect the dead birds yourself?

You should most certainly not collect the birds and transport them anywhere yourself, as you can increase the spread of the virus this way and carry the infection to domestic birds.

Does the spread of the bird flu increase during the migration period of birds?

The migratory birds may carry the bird flu virus. Due to this, the danger that the flu spreads to domestic birds might increase.

How long does the requirement of keeping indoors last?

Starting from June 1 it is again allowed to keep domestic birds outdoors.

Is it possible to vaccinate against the bird flu?

Currently, no vaccine against the H5N8 strain of the bird flu is available.

How do I recognize that my birds have been infected, what are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of bird flu:

  • the swelling of the comb, wattle and face area;
  • lack of appetite, drowsiness, diarrhoea;
  • the birds are breathing hard, and the comb and the wattle are turning blue;
  • egg production volumes drop radically.

If you notice the symptoms in birds, notify your veterinary. If you find dead waterfowl (geese, swans), a number of dead wild birds, or a carcass of a dead raptor (hawks, eagles), we ask that you notify of this by calling the information line +372 605 4767. You should definitely not gather up and transport the birds anywhere yourself, as you might increase the spread of the disease with that.

Has the bird flu been found in wild birds as well?

Yes.

What kind of a disease is bird flu?

Bird flu is a highly contagious, severely progressing infectious disease of birds. Bird flu is considered a very dangerous animal disease because it causes mass infection and high mortality among birds, and brings about extensive economic damages. All domestic and wild birds are susceptible to bird flu.

 

Personal protection equipment – masks and similar

 

Is there any point at all to wear a cloth mask or a cowl or is a medical mask the only face covering that makes sense in protecting against the coronavirus?

We can only say what we know. And what we know is that the effectiveness of a medical mask has been tested and it has been proven that it works. When it comes to cloth masks, sleeves and cowls, then covering your nose and mouth any in way possible is better than nothing.

When it comes to the position that masks should only be worn by people who are symptomatic, then currently we find ourselves in a situation where none of us know who might be an asymptomatic transmitter of the infection. There is no doubt that a mask worn by a symptomatic person helps to prevent the spread of the virus to other people but, just to be sure, all citizens should currently wear a mask, as we do not know who among us might be infectious.

Which material offers the best protection against the virus when used as a mask?

No mask can offer total protection. Any mask (even medical) is only one method which is part of a set of preventative measures - first we have to stay home if we feel unwell or sick, washing hands and keeping a distance are important. When in close contact with an infected person it is advisable to use a respirator mask that meets the requirements of the personal protective equipment. In general, other types of masks can used. All other types of masks are designed to reduce the spread of the virus. The higher the mask filtering capacity and the smaller the particles it can filter, the more effective the mask is. Masks with a sown in or added filter are preferrable.

Do cloth masks need to be washed after every use?

Yes, a cloth mask must be put straight into a washing machine, or a closed plastic bag or box immediately after use. The mask must be washed at a temperature of at least 60 degrees. Used masks should absolutely never be left lying around somewhere. A used mask that has been left on a shelf can disseminate the virus through airborne transmission and is thus dangerous to people in the same room.

What information must be included with a reusable mask?

According to TTJA the packaging of a reusable mask or an information sheet included with it must contain the following information:

  1. filtration efficiency and the size of particles that it has been tested with;
  2. reference to whether this is a reusable or a single use mask;
  3. in the case of a reusable mask, additional information that "the mask needs to be cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions after every use" and instructions for cleaning/washing the product must be included. PS! The virus particles are destroyed by washing at 60 degrees or higher. For instance, if the instructions refer to washing at 40 degrees and there are no references to any other cleaning instructions that would ensure that the virus is destroyed, this kind of a product cannot be considered safe for the user for repeated use;
  4. using instructions (how the face cover/mask needs to be placed etc. -- this can be depicted with pictograms);
  5. the following information needs to also be included: "Always check that the face cover is correctly placed and covers your nose, mouth and jaw; a beard might reduce filtration efficiency." Additionally, the following information must be included: "Using a face cover does not replace other protective measures like regular hand washing, keeping a necessary distance etc.";
  6. a warning must be included: "Warning! This is not a medical mask or personal protective equipment. The face cover/mask limits the dispersal of droplets from the user's respiratory tract to the environment." (this warning must be easily noticeable);
  7. the name and contact information of the producer or the importer;
  8. the means of identifying the product (the model or batch number or similar).

The same kind of labelling must be included with the product description at an e-store.

TTJA recommends to rather refrain from buying a mask that has no information included at all or no corresponding description with the product at an e-store.

What kind of masks are preferable in the cold?

Damp and wet masks do not protect us anymore as the virus particles stick to damp material very easily. But it is not necessary to wear a mask outdoors at all. Should it become necessary for carrying out a work task, for instance, the mask should be changed out more often or every time it starts to become damp or wet (the material the mask is made out of makes no difference).

Under what conditions may an employer require their employees to use personal protective equipment?

The employer carries out a risk analysis which will show what dangers there are in the work environment. This includes biological dangers, and among them is the possibility of infection with the coronavirus. After that, they can decide what measures should be taken to avoid or reduce related risks.

Personal protective equipment must be used if the risk analysis shows that the danger of infection cannot be avoided or reduced only by shared means of protection such as protective glass to stop the spread of the virus, or through organisational measures such as maintaining distance and making disinfectant available.

The employer has the obligation to inform their employees of any possible points of danger identified during the risk analysis such as the risk of infection in particular companies or during particular work tasks, and what measures are being taken.

The employer must explain why it is necessary to use personal protective equipment and to require its use. When this is explained to the employees it is important that they understand why this requirement has been introduced. If the reasons for the requirement are not explained to the employees, there may be more opposition to complying with it.

If the employee does not comply with the construction, the employer may issue a warning that they may be dismissed if they do not follow the rules. If the employee does not abide by the rules even after the warning, the employer has the right to terminate their employment.

Can wearing a mask made out of unsuitable material be harmful?

If you are wearing a mask for a longer period of time made out of an unsuitable material and it covers your nose and mouth, then microfibres, dust or other particles may enter the airways and damage them.

According to the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority the unsuitable materials are:

  • Material that is not breathable – for example, denim, leather, plastic film-like material, etc.
  • Material that is too porous, so that you can see gaps when you look through the material against the light, such material does not filter the air we inhale and exhale.
  • Impregnated material or coloured with chemical agents unsuitable for the skin.

Mask is an additional measure for preventing the spread of the virus, but it does not replace other important methods for avoiding infection such as washing hands, cleaning surfaces, and also keeping distance from other people.

Where can masks be sold and what information must accompany them?

Masks can be sold everywhere -- pharmacies, construction stores, health stores, grocery stores, online stores. The important thing is that people get the correct information -- a person must know what it is she is buying, what it protects her from and how the masks should be used.

That is why the product must be accompanied by product information (name, the standanrd it meets and information on its protective properties), an instruction manual in Estonian and information on the importer.

If there is no information on protective properties of the product, it can only be advertised as a face mask.

How well does a self-made mask protect?

The most important thing about a self-made mask is the number of layers. Depending on the material used and the number of layers, a self-made mask can stop 30-50% of fine particles. A person wearing a self-made mask must also take all other precautionary measures: wash her hands, keep a distance with other people. It is important to remember that every time you touch the mask with your hands, the mask gets more contaminated and the risk of infection increases. It is also important to pay attention to protecting your eyes and to not rub them with your hands, as the virus can also get into your organism through the open mucous membrane.

What rules should be observed when wearing a mask?

It is important to keep the following in mind.

  • The mask should sit on the face properly, so that the mouth and the nose are covered. If the mask has a wire to keep it in place, then the wire should sit tight around the nose, the bottom of the mask should fit under the chin.

  • If the mask has been pulled off the face, or it has been been repeatedly adjusted or touched, then the mask must be changed.

  • The maximum time period for the use of a mask bought at the pharmacy is three hours. After that it is recommended to change the mask because the top layer of the mask might have become contaminated with the virus.

  • The mask cannot be damp. A damp mask must be changed.

  • Used mask needs to be disposed to a bin with a lid or placed in a plastic bag which can be sealed. The mask must be disposed with proper care.

  • Please see the proper use of the protective mask here.

How to make a mask at home, what requirements should be considered?

If you make a mask at home, this mask is not a substitute for a medical-grade mask nor would it prevent transmission like a medical-grade mask. Wearing such a mask and using other preventative measures may reduce the risk of transmission through inhalation and it will reduce the risk of infecting other people.

Instructions on how to make a home-made mask have been published by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority:

  • A mask must be made of a multiple-layer fabric, which can be washed at 60 degrees Celsius, and can be heat-treated.
  • Materials used in cleaning cloths and microfiber towels, a thicker dishwasher fabric, antimicrobial pillowcase are suitable for making home-made masks.
  • The material should have good breathability.
  • The mask material should not be too stiff but comfortable against the skin. It should be taken into account that constant adjusting of the mask reduces its effectiveness substantially.
  • The mask must be fixed behind the ears; a rubber band could be used. Instead of a rubber band, a ribbon can be attached to each corner of the mask, but this mask would be more difficult to affix.

Can a self-made mask be repeatedly used?

Yes, but the cloth masks have to be made from multilayered cloth and they must be washable at high temperatures. The mask has to be washed at 60 degrees, at the lowest. NB! Used masks must be gathered into a closed plastic bag or box. Used masks should certainly not be left lying around.

Who is the medical mask intended for and what does it achieve?

The medical or surgical mask is a single-use mask. Surgical masks are primarily intended to protect the patient during a medical procedure so that any particles or saliva breathed out by a doctor or surgeon would not reach the patient during the process and so would not cause additional complications and illnesses.

We recommend that infected people wear surgical masks to avoid spreading particles by coughing and sneezing. A surgical mask may also give some direct protection against microscopic particles and may deter you from touching your face. Surgical masks do not give complete protection against the virus, but they do sharply reduce the risk of transmission.

Surgical masks stop offering effective protection if they become wet, and once one has been taken off it cannot be used again but must be thrown away. Neither should the mask be shared as it is for use by one person only, and once it has been taken off, even briefly, it should not be used again. Pulling the mask down to the chin or taking it off for a moment is just the same as taking it off fully, and in this case it should be thrown away and a new mask should be used.

When you take a mask off it is important to observe hygiene rules for your hands properly afterwards, because a used mask may contain particles of infection. Hands must be washed after the mask is taken off. After you have taken the mask off, you should only touch your face once you have washed your hands properly.

 

Defence forces/Defence League

 

How are the military exercises and reservist trainings organised in different units?

At the beginning of the current year, an amendment was made to the reservist trainings schedule of the first semester, according to which only critically important training exercises are being held.

The Defence Forces have enacted substantiated and effective measures for limiting the spread of the virus, and are actively monitoring the health condition of conscripts and active servicemen. At the training exercise, primary emphasis is put on the general rules for keeping personal and collective hygiene, like hand washing, keeping a distance, using personal protective equipment if necessary. Prior rapid testing and protective masks are used at headquarters, in order to avoid COVID positive persons coming into the closed area, or a later spread of the droplet infection indoors. The contacts between units are also minimised -- the Defence Forces' own exercise grounds are used as much as possible, and public spaces are avoided, so that there would not be an opportunity to carry the infection into the training exercise from the outside.

How is the vaccination organised in the Defence Forces?

The principles that apply to vaccination in the Defence Forces are the same that apply in the rest of Estonia: vaccinations started with the medical workers and units that are important for the daily functioning of the Defence Forces. The vaccines are the best possibility for conquering the coronavirus and returning to the regular order of life, and the Defence Forces certainly encourage our personnel to get vaccinated. The Defence Forces consider it normal that, due to the goal of our activities -- to maintain the defence capabilities of the state, our staff and servicemen are willing to protect themselves, their companions and close ones by getting vaccinated.

Refusing vaccination means that regular restrictions in force in the country must be taken into account. Furthermore, additional restrictions might be enacted with a decree of the Commander of the Defence Forces, applying to the service and movement in the unit and outside of the territory of the unit, in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Each time when people who have not been vaccinated leave the unit, they must do a COVID-19 rapid test upon returning.

How do the Defence Forces separate infected persons or persons who are possible virus carriers from others?

As a precautionary measure, quarantine and isolation are used in the Defence Forces.

Quarantine -- in rooms separated from others -- is used for service members who have become infected.

Isolation is used for service members who are not symptomatic but there is a suspicion that they might have come into contact with a virus carrier.

What kind of precautions have the Defence Forces taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into the Defence Forces?

The Defence Forces have restricted the movements of active troops abroad and have reviewed the needs and objectives of foreign missions with a very critical eye. All service personnel arriving from other countries will be working from home for the restriction period, if possible. If possible, as a preventive measure, the service personnel who might have been exposed to potential carriers of the virus when abroad will also be working from home.

For each planned operation in Estonia, the heads of the structural units will decide whether or not to cancel the operations. If participants from outside the Defence Forces are invited to the event, the unit commander has the right to cancel the event or use remote work possibilities. Events that will become public events will be coordinated with the local governments.

Symptomatic service personnel have to work remotely.

Depending on the situation, the Commander of the Defence Forces has the right to impose restrictions on the movement of the members of the Defence Forces, and it is within the competence of the commanders of military units to authorise leave permits.

What measures are the Defence Forces taking to prevent the spread of the virus?

One of the most important measures to prevent getting ill is vaccination against COVID-19 which was provided for conscripts who reported for service and wished for it, and will continue to be provided.

Measures applied include keeping a distance, wearing a mask, use of personal protective and hygiene equipment.

Contacts between different units of conscripts have been brought to a minimum. Conscripts who have been in contact with an infected person continue their service while in isolation.

In order to organise the service of active servicemen and officials, the commanders of units have been given the task to develop a plan for remote work; meetings are held virtually.

How does the coronavirus affect conscripts´ leave authorisations and holidays?

It is up to the head of each unit to issue or limit leave authorisations during the period until the vacations. The decision is based on the measures taken by the commanders to prevent the spread of the virus in a specific unit.

In the context of the spread of COVID, the conscripts who do not wish to get vaccinated have to take into consideration certain limitations, which are first and foremost necessary to protect their own health and the health of other people. Conscripts who have waived taking the vaccine are limited to no more than one leave authorisation per month, to decrease the number of possible contacts and the possibility of spreading the virus. Non-vaccination also creates an obligation to get tested for COVID-19 more frequently than others.

The more vaccinated people the Defence Forces have, the smaller the possibility for the spread of the virus and that is the best chance to return to our accustomed order of life, which includes issuing leave authorisations and, for instance, organising visitation days.

Conscripts who have been infected with the coronavirus, are in quarantine and self-isolation may go on leave according to the decision of the medical service, if they have been declared healthy or if no symptoms have occurred within a certain period, as the Defence Forces do not send people who may infect their close ones to the society. The unreceived leave days of the conscripts who were infected, in isolation or quarantine will be compensated later.

Upon return from leave, the Defence Forces administers a coronavirus test to unvaccinated conscripts and also to those who are symptomatic. If necessary, the conscripts are sent to isolation where the whole unit participates in training in isolation from others. It is also possible for the unit to organise the arrival of conscripts in a dispersed manner, in order to avoid a large number of conscripts coming into contact with each other.

How is the work of the medical commissions of the Defence Resources Agency organised?

Conscripts are invited to appear before the medical commission at a fixed appointment time and one person at a time. Everyone is provided with personal protective equipment and the possibility to disinfect hands. Surfaces are cleaned regularly.

Prior to appearing before the medical commission, you should definitely open your e-health data either at the web portal of the military service www.kaitsevaeteenistus.ee or at the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee and enter your account number and, if you wish, your religious affiliation, to the military service web portal www.kaitsevaeteenistus.ee.

What happens if a conscript or an active serviceman is infected with the coronavirus or is exposed to an infected person?

If a conscript gets infected, they will be in isolation until the end of treatment.

Conscripts and active servicemen who have been potentially exposed to people infected with the coronavirus will be excluded from active training activities for two weeks. During that time, food will be provided for them from the canteen with a thermos and left behind the door. Empty thermoses are disinfected. It is possible to contact the conscripts and servicemen who have been excluded from active training or who do not have the permission to leave the base, by calling them on their mobile phones. They can receive packages, if the package is sent by post, or left for them at the entrance of the military unit.

How can I send a package to a conscript at a military unit?

Packages can be sent to conscripts by post. The name and subdivision of the conscript (battalion) must be written on the package. Do not put highly perishable goods in the package, as the delivery of packages might take some time.

For units located in Tallinn (Navy, Headquarters Support and Signal Battalion, Guard Battalion), package can be delivered to the entrance gate check-point. Safe conditions for receiving packages have been established at the gate.

Delivery addresses for packages

  • Taara Garrison: Kose tee 3a, Võru, 65603, Võru County
  • Tapa Garrison: Loode 35, 45106 Tapa, Lääne-Viru County
  • Paldiski Garrison: Rae põik 1, 76806 Paldiski, Harju County
  • Jõhvi Garrison: Pargi 55, 41537 Jõhvi, Ida-Viru County
  • Headquarters Support and Signal Battallion: Filtri tee 12, 10132, Tallinn, Harju County
  • Miinisadam (Navy and Guard Battalion): Tööstuse 54a, 10416 Tallinn

How does the coronavirus affect the activities and tasks of Estonian servicemen serving in foreign operations?

The Defence Forces will continue their participation in international military operations on the principles that have been in force thus far. Any changes will be made according to the changing situation to ensure the health and safety of our units.

Airport closures and cancelled flights of civil airlines due to the spread of the coronavirus may extend the service time of servicemen participating in foreign missions by up to two months or until air traffic resumes.

How is the safety and protection from the coronavirus ensured for servicemen participating in foreign missions?

The servicemen deploying to military operations will be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Military Operations Command is also implementing various other restrictions pertaining to the activities and tasks of the units in the framework of the operation to guarantee the safety of the personnel and prevent them from getting infected with the coronavirus.

In addition to the implementation of generally well-known hygiene requirements, the movement of people and contact with civilians will be further restricted if necessary. In addition, quarantine and isolation requirements already established by different countries will also apply to those moving to and from the area of operation.

Does the spread of the coronavirus in any way affect the return home from a foreign mission for those servicemen who are currently about to end their service?

Due to the pandemic and the resulting movement restrictions, the period of stay of the units in the area of operation may be extended. The changes are made as needed and as the situation changes.

Why can´t the servicemen participating in foreign missions return to Estonia on vacation at the planned time?

Many countries in the world have implemented an entry ban, restrictions to entry, mandatory quarantine periods on arrival or airport closures are causing civil airlines to cancelling their flights.

Restrictions and prohibitions have been established by most of the countries where Estonian servicemen participate in military operations or through which servicemen are transported to the area of operations and home. This means that the movement of people to the area of operations and back from there can currently be more difficult.

What happens if a serviceman serving in a foreign operation gets infected with the coronavirus?

All those who fall ill during a military operation are guaranteed comprehensive medical care in accordance with the existing order. The Defence Forces have the capability to provide emergency transport home to all servicemen who are sick or in need of medical assistance.

 

Cyber security in remote work and distance learning

 

What are the recommendations regarding passwords?

Distance working and learning requires constantly logging into places and inserting passwords. This might create a temptation to use one and the same (and as simple as possible) password everywhere. It would be used to enter work, school, store, social media, chat rooms and gaming sites. But if this one password should leak (and passwords do leak from time to time!) the hackers will see whether the already leaked passwords and usernames can be used to enter other places as well.

One possibility to use different passwords in different places in a way that you do not need to remember the long passwords yourself is to see what options are being offered by password managers. There are several, they can be used for free (e.g. LastPass, Keepass, 1Password) and in this way you only need to remember one long password for your password manager.

But as work done at home, e-mail addresses and all kinds of accounts are currently vitally important for work, study and communication, an important assistant for securing your accounts is multi-factor authentication. This means that even if somebody does get hold of your password (with phishing, malware or previously leaked passwords), they still can't access your e-mail account without a code that is in your phone. No, you do not need to enter the code every time you want to log into Gmail. But if someone tries to get access to your e-mail account from a geographically distant location, they will not be successful.

Is distance working really a safe choice?

If it is done correctly and knowingly, distance working is certainly safe. Even though the current emergency situation, where many people work from home, does increase the danger that companies and their employees fall victim to a cyber attack or cyber fraud, these risks can be brought down to a minimum by following elementary cyber hygiene requirements. In turn, by safely doing distance work you lower the risk of coronavirus infection for yourself as well as others.

 

Agriculture and rural life

 

What should animal keepers know regarding the coronavirus?

An employee of a meat processing company, a veterinary carrying out checks of animals and food in the market, a market employee and an employee working with live animals on a farm and processing animal products should, in addition to frequent hand washing, turn additional attention to the following:

  • Work clothing and gloves should be used when handling animals and fresh meat.
  • The equipment used and the work station should be regularly disinfected (at least once a day).
  • Protective clothing should be removed and washed at the end of work. It is recommended that the work clothes/protective clothes and other work equipment be kept at the place of work and washed on site.

More information on the web page of the Agriculture and and Food Board. (January 1, 2021, the Veterinary and Food Board was merged with Agriculture Board as Agriculture and Food Board).

What kind of assistance is provided to farmers?

The Estonian Rural Development Foundation (MES) is accepting applications for working capital loans and loan guarantees starting from April 19.

Due to the small volume of working capital loans, the target group of the loan is limited to the farmers and the food processing sector. Additionally, the volumes and the budget of working capital loans have been divided into two, based on the size of the enterprise:

  1. for micro-enterprises, working capital loans of €5,000 to €25,000, in the total volume of €750,000 and
  2. for small and medium sized enterprises, working capital loans of €5,000 to €200,000, in the total volume of €1,250,000.

MES is offering loan guarantees to farmers, the food processing industry, and enterprises operating in rural areas. Increasing the guarantee reserve provides an opportunity to include the banks in financing the sector more, offering bank loan guarantees through MES.

Information about the MES measures can be found on the foundation's homepage (in Estonian).

 

Family events

 

A person currently has the coronavirus, at the same time a person close to her died. Who is going to bury that close one?

A COVID-19 positive must stay in self-isolation for 10 days. Hopefully it is possible to keep the body of the close one in the cold chamber of the hospital or funeral home until the isolation period of the COVID-19 patient ends. Still, if problems occur, we recommend turning to the local municipality for help.

What restrictions apply to churches and worship services?

Protective mask

Participants have to wear a mask. A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the Delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

Dispersion

In public indoor spaces it is important ensure dispersion, availability of disinfectants and the following of disinfection rules in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

Limitations to the number of participants

It is allowed to carry out public worship services and religious services in a way that up to 50 people may participate in them indoors (100 outdoors) or a 50% maximum occupancy requirement has to be observed.

COVID certificate

Participants of a worship service do not have to present any COVID certificates. The exception does not extend to church concerts which are subject to the general requirements in force for organising public events.

Are there any special arrangements necessary when handling the body of a person who has died due to the coronavirus?

If the death has occurred due to the coronavirus, then the family members and the bereaved cannot touch the body. Both casket burial and cremation are allowed.

From infection control point of view, cremation is preferable, but it is not compulsory and depends on the wishes of the family.

Open casket burial is allowed provided the bereaved will not come into contact with the body. It is the responsibility of the funeral organiser to ensure the safety of the funeral.

It is necessary to avoid gathering indoors and, if possible, to hold a funeral ceremony directly in the graveyard.

The Health Board has issued a guideline for handling the bodies of the persons infected with COVID-19 or suspected of COVID-19 infection, for both hospitals and funeral homes. (guidelines for funeral homes).

The special measures concern the storage, cremation and preparation of a body for burial. Procedures requiring direct contact with the body should be minimised, if possible, and precautions should be taken, using special personal protective equipment.

Can a funeral be arranged as usual? What are the special requirements?

It is not prohibited to organise funerals but it is important to keep in mind that each element of the event is in compliance with the restrictions in force.

If there is a wake at a catering establishment after the funeral, it is not necessary to check COVID certificates in order to eat on the premises but enacting all precautionary measures is very strongly recommended. If COVID certificates are not checked, the guests have to wear a mask indoors. Indoors it is also necessary to ensure dispersion, the availability of disinfectants, and the following of disinfection requirements according to the instructions of the Health Board.

Is it allowed to organise weddings?

It is allowed to organise weddings if the control measures in force are adhered to.

If the wedding takes place at a restaurant, theatre or another similar public space with an obligation to check COVID certificates, all participants 18 years of age or older must present a certificate proving vaccination, recovery or negative results of a prior test. The check is performed by, for instance, the restaurant or another person who is responsible for everyday organisation or management of the venue where the party is taking place.

If a private person is celebrating a private occasion at their own residence and is ordering food or other entertainment there, this does not constitute a public event and in that case the restrictions do not apply; applying all safety precautions is still highly recommended as the people gathering in these events do not usually come into daily contact with each other and may thus spread the infection.

The responsibility for the legality of the service of wedding planning lies with the provider of the service and the persons who ordered the service.

Starting from October 25, 2021: If the wedding takes place in a restaurant, at a theatre or some other similar public place with an obligation to check COVID certificates, it is compulsory for all participants over the age of 18 to present a valid certificate proving that they have completed the course of vaccinations within the past year (or completed the course of vaccinations and received an additional dose) or recovered from COVID-19 and no more than six months (180 days) have passed since the moment the diagnosis was confirmed. If a person cannot get vaccinated for health reasons, they can participate with a certificate confirming the fact, issued by a doctor. People under the age of 18 do not have to present any certificates.

A negative test result is not sufficient as a proof. The access of unvaccinated people to events and activities is limited because their risk of getting infected is very high and if they are infected, they spread the virus more than people who have immune protection; they also have a higher risk of suffering from the disease more severely and ending up in a hospital.

 

Cargo shipments

 

Do freight transporters need to take a test when entering the country?

The answer is no: freight transporters without any symptoms do not need to take the test when entering the country. No restriction of movement applies to freight transporters who have no symptoms of the disease.

If a person has any symptoms of the disease, they will need to remain in self-isolation for at least 10 days and take the coronavirus test.

Testing is also possible at the border. Testing points are located at the Port of Tallinn Terminals A and D, and at Tallinn Airport. Passengers who arrive from the at-risk country via another port or airport, train or road can make appointments for testing, calling the SYNLAB and Medicum testing centre by phone 678 0000 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm). Testing is free of charge for Estonian citizens and residents. For foreigners, testing is done for a fee, testing at the airport and the ports costs EUR67, in other testing places the price is determined by the service provider.

For more information on the conditions of crossing the state border, please see the Order of the Government of the Republic: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/314092020004 and the website of the Police and Border Guard Board: https://www.politsei.ee/et/juhend/eriolukord.

How is medical care guaranteed during the time of the virus if I have health insurance in Estonia but am currently in another European Union member state?

People who have health insurance in Estonia and are currently in the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland will be given necessary medical care on equal terms with people living in those countries. Necessary medical care is guaranteed in the case of the coronavirus as well. The need for treatment must be medically justified and this decision is made by a doctor. In order to get necessary medical aid, a person has to carry a European Health Insurance Card or a replacement certificate of the card. If a person does not have the card with him or he has not applied for the European Health Insurance Card or its replacement certificate before the trip, we ask that he apply for a replacement certificate of the European Health Insurance Card immediately upon arriving at the hospital or a doctor. You can find more information at the web page of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund

Is unlicensed carriage of goods permitted? What kind of accompanying documents must the driver have, and would movement restrictions apply?

International carriage of goods is permitted, including unlicensed carriage.

The vehicle carrying out commercial carriage of goods must contain the following documents pertaining to the given vehicle:

  • a certified copy of the Community authorisation granted to the carrier of an EU or EEA Member State (exemptions for international carriage are provided for in Road Transportation Act Art 6(1) – for example, carriage in the EU at own expense);
  • a consignment accompanying document (CMR or so-called “loading list”);
  • a transport permit or CEMT licence under an international agreement, if goods are transported to a third country from Estonia, or from a third country to Estonia by a carrier from Austria, Bulgaria, Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Hungary;

Additionally, upon entering Estonia with an empty vehicle, the basis and location of the load that is being fetched need to be proven (e.g. a transport order).

If the carriage of goods is taking place at own expense, the driver needs to be accompanied by documentation for the load which proves that this cargo is owned by the operator organising the carriage of goods at its own expense, or that this company has purchased, sold, repaired, mined, or processed the goods.

This carriage of goods at own expense needs to also follow other requirements laid down in Article 1(5)(d) of Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 of the EU, but in the emergency situation the verification of these requirements would constitute too much of a burden.

Persons directly involved in the carriage of goods are exempt from movement restriction.

Does a truck driver arriving in Estonia with a shipment of goods need to spend 10 days in isolation at home or can they return abroad immediately?

They can return abroad immediately, as the 10-day restriction on movement does not apply to transporters of goods or raw materials, and persons involved with international haulage of goods and passengers. If the driver has any symptoms of the disease, they must remain in isolation at home for at least 10 days and contact their family doctor.

For more information on the conditions of crossing the state border, please see the Order of the Government of the Republic: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/314092020004 and the website of the Police and Border Guard Board: https://www.politsei.ee/et/juhend/eriolukord.

 

HOIA mobile app

 

I received notification from the HOIA application that I have been in close contact with a person infected with the coronavirus. Will I also get sick now?

If you were notified by the app, it only means that you have probably been in close contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. This does not mean that you will definitely get sick. It is now important to stay home and monitor your symptoms. For example, if you develop a dry cough, fever, or have difficulties breathing, please contact your family doctor who will arrange for you to be tested and treated. It is also vital to remember that even if you have the infection, it does not mean your case will be severe, most people only experience mild symptoms.

Will the HOIA application work when the low power mode is on?

If the location services are not allowed due to the decision of the user or automatically to save battery life, then the HOIA application will display the relevant notification. Location services must be switched on in order for the app to work. You can check the settings under Settings - Location - allow Location Services. If the permission to access location is granted but the app is still displaying the notification then it is possible that the battery saving mode is not allowing to use location services.
Then you will need to verify whether the low power mode is on. More information can be found on the producers website or https://dontkillmyapp.com/

How are data leaks from the HOIA application avoided?

The first and most important step to limiting data leaks is bringing the amount of data gathered to a minimum. The data that the application gathers cannot be tied to a person. The information on infected persons, which is necessary for confirming an infection, is kept in the Health Information System as it has been done for more than ten years already. No new database is created for the application, thus no new data leak risks are created either. The server of the application that gets the anonymous codes of the infected persons is in the Estonian Government Cloud where it is protected from attacks. Even if somebody did manage to access the server, they would only see a pile of anonymous codes that in themselves do not carry any information. The application has been created on the principle of data distribution, as a result of which the data exchanged through the application will create useful information only as a result of the cooperation between the different components of the application and this information is displayed only to you in your phone. For more information on how to better protect your phone from possible data leaks, read here.

When and how much Internet does the HOIA app use? What if I don't have a data plan? How much should I pay extra for using the app?

The app only needs Bluetooth for regular operation. You should connect your phone to the Internet at least once a day to check whether there have been any close contacts. During this check, a small amount of information is downloaded, which should not exceed 200 kB. Therefore, the app uses the Internet only a little, and the mobile Internet is not absolutely necessary – downloading the information needed for notifications also works over WiFi.

What does it mean that notifications sent through the HOIA app arrive with a delay?

The receipt of notifications depends on when the app requests the codes of the infected and when were you exposed to the infected. If you came into contact with an infected person on the day their infection was confirmed, the system will disclose the code of the infected person to you on the following day. If you came into contact with an infected person before the day their infection was confirmed, the system will disclose the code of the infected person to you as soon as your app requests the codes. Currently, Google and Apple application interfaces allow you to request codes twice a day.

A notification from the HOIA app appeared on my phone screen but I accidentally closed it and I am no longer able to find the information.

Based on your phone model and its operating system you get weekly informative notifications, which include summarised information on the number of infections. In Apple IOS it is possible to switch the notifications on or off by selecting Settings - Notifications - COVID-19 Exposure Notifications - Allow Notifications. For Android you have to choose Settings - Google - COVID-19 exposure notifications and toggle the on-off button for activation or deactivation. These notifications are visible on the notification panel only until you click on them or swipe them left or right.

The HOIA app sends notifications to the notification panel with the following information: "New message. Open the app to read the message." Once you click on the notification it opens the HOIA app. In the case of a close contact, the main screen displays the relevant information together with a suggestion to self-isolate for a certain period of time: "You have been in contact with 1 COVID-19 carrier. To stop the spread of the virus, stay at home until xx.xx.xx." This information is visible in the app for the next 10 days. If you delete your data from the app, the possible close contact information will also disappear. If you swipe the HOIA notification off from the notification panel, you can still see the close contact information in the HOIA app.

How reliable is the HOIA app information?

The main function of the app is to inform and guide you if you may have been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19. Therefore, the app uses three types of information: information on close contact, information on infection, and information on code of conduct.

  1. A close contact is defined as having been in contact with an infected person for at least 15 minutes during the day and at a distance of less than 2 metres from each other. The phones automatically collect information about close contacts via Bluetooth radio signals, and the interpretation of the signal into a distance is based on extensive international research carried out by Google and Apple, among others, that have developed your phone’s operating system.
  2. Infection of people is confirmed against an external source of evidence, namely the Health Board and the Health Information System in Estonia. This means that no user can declare themselves to be infected, unless they are genuinely ill. If the phone notifies you of a close contact with an infected person, you can be certain that the person who sent the notification is in fact infected.
  3. If you turn out to be a close contact, the code of conduct displayed to you has been approved by the Health Board. In addition, you will see the Health Board’s telephone number, which you can call to ask for more information.

How will the infected persons remain anonymous to other users? If I find out that I was exposed to an infected person yesterday, can I not indirectly identify who the infected person was?

HOIA will send out a notification, if you have been in close contact with an infected person. This notification will not tell you who the infected person was, where and for how long you were in contact with them, or when you were in contact with them. Therefore, it is not possible to identify the infected person on the basis of the notification.

Can the HOIA app access my data?

The app cannot access the information on your phone (contacts, location, etc.). If you confirm your infection through the app, the app will redirect you to the national Patient Portal, however, this portal will not return your health information to the app, but will only confirm the infection to the app server in a non-personalised manner.

What data does the HOIA app collect?

A short-term anonymous code is generated for each user of the app, and it changes regularly. When you are close enough to another user, your phones exchange each other’s anonymous codes. In addition to the code itself, the phone will save for how long it saw the code and how far the owner of the code could have been during this time (based on the strength of the Bluetooth signal). If you turn out to be infected, you will be able to upload your anonymous codes to the app server, where other users can download them to compare whether or not their phone has already seen your code. The app does not collect any other information about you or your close contacts.

On which smartphones can you use the HOIA app?

The app requires a phone based on the Android or iOS operating system. For HOIA to function best, you need to use the close contact notification interface provided by Google and Apple. Therefore, usability is limited to phones manufactured in the last 5 years. Therefore, all Android phones that support the Android 6.0 operating system and all Apple phones that support the iOS 13.5 operating system (from iPhone 6S) are compatible.

Does the HOIA app use a lot of battery power?

The HOIA app runs in the background on your phone and requires a Bluetooth connection to function. This also results in a slightly higher battery usage. For the Bluetooth connectivity, the app uses the official application interface developed by Google and Apple. This interface tries to minimise the battery drain resulting from the use of the app and maximise the device uptime.

Does the HOIA app have any age restrictions?

No. Anyone can use the HOIA app, including those under 13 years of age. As the app does not process personal data, the use of the app does not require separate parental consent for those under the age of 13. However, parents will always be able to check which apps can be downloaded to their children’s phones. Due to legal constraints, it is not possible for children under the age of 13 to confirm their infection on their own in the app, but they can still use it to receive notifications about close contacts.

In the renewed HOIA app a parent can notify about a child's illness. For that, you need to identify yourself in the child's phone through the Patient Portal, choose the child's account in digilugu and then you can mark your child as infected.

Do I have to carry my phone with me all the time when using the HOIA app?

The HOIA app functions through private communication between phones. If you are heading somewhere and may come into contact with other people, it would be really beneficial to carry a phone with the app to get the best result. You should also make sure that your phone has Bluetooth turned on.

Can I become subject to a movement restriction if I was in close contact with an infected person according to the HOIA app?

If the HOIA app detects that you have been in close contact with an infected person, you will receive a notification through the application, recommending that you stay in self-isolation for 10 days and monitor your health. The application can also give you a phone number where to call to get additional information.

The HOIA app does not allow anyone other than you yourself to establish that you have been in close contact with a virus carrier, thus a movement restriction cannot be imposed on you either. Restricting movements according to the control measures in force is a matter of each app user's own responsibility and conscious.

If you are not symptomatic and you have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within the last 180 days, you do not have to stay in self-isolation as a close contact. You should, however, closely monitor your health within the next 10 days.

Additionally, the Health Board recommends that a close contact do a test after the 10 day quarantine ends, in order to discover a possible asymptomatic infection.

Will anyone who receives a notification from the HOIA app that they have been in close contact with a coronavirus carrier also be eligible for testing?

Close contacts notified via the HOIA app will be treated in the same way as those identified by the Health Board. According to the current guidelines, this means that a close contact may go to test themselves on the tenth day, if they so wish.

What is the HOIA mobile app?

HOIA is a mobile app that contributes to limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus with the help of the app users. The purpose of the app is to inform the close contacts of those infected with the coronavirus and, therefore, to provide them with initial instructions on how to proceed. In this way, the users can quickly find out about a possible close contact with a person infected with COVID-19, allowing them to take steps to protect their own health and the health of others.

How does the HOIA app work?

Phones that use the app register Bluetooth signals from other nearby phones. If a signal is sufficiently close and long enough, an anonymous code referring to a close contact will be saved in their phone. If a person confirms their infection in the HOIA app, the anonymous codes on their device will be uploaded to a central server where all users can download them. It is not possible to identify a person based on an anonymous code. A user’s phone will compare whether the infected person’s anonymous code matches a code previously saved on their phone. If so, the user is considered to be a close contact and they will be notified with instructions. It will not be revealed to the user who the infected person was with whom they came into contact, or any other information that would allow the indirect identification of the infected person.

How does the HOIA app help to protect me against the virus?

Viruses such as COVID-19 can spread before symptoms develop and, therefore, an infected person may unknowingly spread the disease. This means that by the time the symptoms appear, the virus may already have been transmitted to others, so it is not enough for symptomatic people to stay at home to stop the virus from spreading. By using the HOIA app, an infected person can quickly inform all people with whom they have been in close contact during the infectious period. In this way, app users can find out about a possible infection early on and take steps to protect their own health and that of others. Therefore, by using the app, you will contribute to reducing the number of infections in Estonia, regardless of whether you are infected or a close contact.

How many users must the app have to be beneficial?

Some studies have shown that by using only the app, it could be possible to control the epidemic if 60% of the population use the app. In practice, it is not necessary to reach such a large number of users, as the app serves merely as one of several means in our toolbox to limit the spread of this virus. It is a simple and safe means of protection that will make all other measures more effective. It also depends on who the users are – people who move around a lot, come into contact with people potentially affected by the virus and meet more people in general on a day-to-day basis, should definitely use the app. As on average one person transfers COVID-19 to two other persons, it will not take long for one infected person to spread the disease to many others. Therefore, every user counts: if we manage to break at least one chain of infection thanks to the use of this app, we will avoid the wider spread of the virus.

How to change the language of the app?

The app is available in three languages: Estonian, English and Russian. In the iOS app, you can change the language inside the app. For Android apps, the first version of the app is always in the same language as your phone. The app will be in Estonian, if your phone is set to Estonian. The app will be in English, if your phone is set to English, etc. For newer Android devices, you can change the language by going to "Settings" -> "General management" -> "Language and input". You can get a more detailed instruction from the manufacturer of your phone. Future versions of the Android app shall support changing the language inside the app.

 

Incapacity benefit payments – sick days, care leave

 

Who has the right to a certificate for care leave?

Care allowance is a temporary incapacity benefit. It is paid by the Health Insurance Fund to insured people, meaning an employee, a civil servant, person receiving a fee under a contract of obligations, a member of the management board or other managing body of a legal person, or a self-employed person or their spouse participating in their enterprise, who loses taxable income subject to social tax because they are caring for a sick child or family member.

Care allowance is granted to a person:

  • caring for a child under 12 or a person under 19 with disabilities for up to 14 consecutive days;
  • caring for a child under 12 for up to 60 consecutive days if the illness is caused by a malignant tumour and the child has started treatment in hospital;
  • caring for a member of their family at home for up to seven consecutive days;
  • caring for a child under three or a child under 16 with disabilities if the carer of the child is sick themselves or is on maternity leave. In these cases the care allowance may be for up to 10 consecutive days.

A doctor may also issue a certificate for care leave for longer period, but the care allowance is only paid for limited duration.

For further information: https://www.haigekassa.ee/en/node/7/care-allowance

Who has the right to go on sick leave?

Doctors can issue the sick note (confirmation of incapacity to work) to people who have medical insurance through their employer. The doctor decides whether or not to issue such a certificate based on the state of the person’s health.

Based on the sick note the employer and the Health Insurance Fund will pay compensation for incapacity to work, aimed at partial compensation for loss of earnings while the person is sick.

The doctor fills in the electronic sick note specifying the period how long the person will be on sick leave, and sends it electronically to the Health Insurance Fund. The data sent by the doctor and information on compensation paid out can be found under the personal sickness compensation service in the state portal www.eesti.ee.

For more see: https://www.haigekassa.ee/en/people/benefits/benefits-incapacity-work

At what rate and for which days of sick leave will an employee be compensated? What kinds of benefits are available for care leave?

Sickness benefit:

In order to reduce the risk of people going to work when sick and the personal liability of employees, and thus limit the spread of COVID-19 disease, the procedure for compensating the sick leaves will chage until the end of 2021.

The employee co-pay covers the first day of illness, the employer covers the compensation from the second to the fifth day, and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pays the compensation from the sixth day onwards.

The new procedure is valid for initial incapacity to work certificates. The procedure for the compensation for care leave certificates does not change.

  • No compensation is paid for the first day of sick leave.

  • For sickness days 2 to 5, compensation will be paid by the employer based on average salary.

  • From day 6, the sickness compensation will be paid by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund on the basis of the daily income of the employee. The calculation is based on the data on social tax calculated or paid in the calendar year preceding the date of the beginning of the sick leave, which is obtained from the Tax and Customs Board.

  • The information on which the calculation is based can be accessed from the state portal eesti.ee after the compensation has been received.

Read more about the sickness benefit (in Estonian).

Care allowance:

On the basis of the certificate for care leave, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pays care allowance for the first

  • 14 sickness days to a parent whose child under the age of 12 or disabled child under the age of 19 is sick;
  • 7 sickness days to the carer of other family members.

The allowance is 80% of the average wage of the person who has been issued the certificate for care leave. Income tax is withheld from the benefit.

Different rules for paying care allowance apply in the case of severe illness such as tumours.

Read more about care allowance.

More information can be received from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund telephone (+372) 669 6630.

During the emergency situation, people were given the opportunity to apply for incapacity to work certificate on medical grounds or for care leave via the Patient Portal www.digilugu.ee website. After the emergency situation was ended on May 18, the medical leave certificate can be only issued by the doctor, so if you are sick or are caring for a sick family member, you must contact your family doctor in order to obtain the sick leave or care leave.

 

Consumer rights and business owners’ rights – travelling, events, gift cards, tickets etc

 

Can a food operator ask for guarantees from suppliers regarding virus?

No. A certificate that is supposed to confirm the virus-free status of the product is not justified, as there is no evidence that foods could endanger human health due to the virus. Any requirements to ensure such a certificate are therefore disproportionate and therefore not acceptable.

The tour operator has not cancelled my package tour, but I do not want to travel. What should I do?

Many tour operators have cancelled scheduled package travel in the near future. Circumstances change, and trips planned in a few months’ time or after half a year may take place. Therefore, it is not necessary to rush with cancellation of travel plan unless it is for immediate future. It is worth taking some time to calmly assess whether the cancellation is inevitable. If, however, the tour operator has not cancelled the trip planned for near future, it is good to know that the passenger has the right to terminate the package travel contract before the start of the package tour without paying the termination fee, if there are unavoidable and exceptional circumstances affecting the destination or its immediate vicinity which might impact the service provision or transportation of passengers.

Unavoidable and exceptional circumstances may include, for example, military activities, other serious security problems such as terrorism, significant risks to human health, such as the outbreak of a severe disease at the travel destination, or natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, or weather conditions that make it impossible to travel to the destination safely in the manner provided for in the package travel contract. The contract withdrawal application must be submitted to the tour operator before the start of the package tour. We encourage passengers to consider agreeing to flexible options of refund with travel operators. For example, reimbursement of advances may be replaced by a change of the trip to a later date or may be replaced by package travel gift cards that the passenger may use at his own discretion later.

My flight was cancelled, what are my rights?

If the airline cancels the flight, the passenger has the right to a refund (if the flight departed from the EU or a third country, but the flight was operated by an EU carrier). In addition, the passenger is entitled to the assistance and support of the airline, such as providing food or accommodation if the person was not allowed to board the flight and is waiting for the first available replacement flight. It should be taken into account that the offering of a substitution route as soon as possible may not be objectively possible for the airline at the moment.

If a passenger chooses the refund of the ticket or another flight at a later date, then the airline is no longer obliged to provide food or accommodation.

We ask passengers to take into account that, at the moment, airlines face delays in responding to requests and claims. We ask the passengers for their understanding and patience! Further information on the rights of air passengers in the current situation can also be found in the overview published by the European Commission.

If I am travelling abroad and I have travel insurance, which is still in effect, will my insurer also cover expenses related to the coronavirus outbreak?

This depends on your specific insurer and the terms of your contract. In general, however, insurers do not compensate costs if a person is already travelling in an area, where a quarantine is put into effect, causing the person to not be able to come home on time and incurring extra expenses for that traveller.

I got sick during a trip, will insurance cover my treatment costs?

In order for an insurer to cover costs related to an unexpected illness, you have to have entered into a medical insurance agreement ahead of time. Generally, when you purchase travel insurance, it is a mandatory part of even entering into contract with them, meaning that without medical insurance you usually can’t even get travel insurance.

Insurance companies do cover treatment costs for any viral infections based on the medical insurance, since those kinds of illnesses are always unexpected, and in this context falling ill due to the coronavirus is also considered an insurance event. According to the medical insurance, costs related to treating the coronavirus illness are covered only as long as there is an epidemic declared in that area.

If a person decides to travel to an epidemic area and contracts the coronavirus disease, then the related treatment costs are no longer covered by medical insurance, because this case is considered to be one, where a person knowingly endangers themselves.

An event is cancelled because of the coronavirus. What will happen to the ticket money?

Consumers can withdraw from the contract and ask for a full refund. By agreement, the refund may be replaced by alternative events at a later date, or by the possibility of visiting another event which the consumer can enter with the previously purchased ticket, or the cost can be reimbursed by means of a gift card.

What do I do if a gift card or gift ticket expired during a time when it couldn’t be used due to the restrictions?

If a gift card or gift ticket expired while the service was unavailable due to the emergency situation, the consumer has the right to withdraw from the contract and receive the amount paid for the gift card or gift ticket. First, please contact the merchant, who issued the gift card. It is worth checking the merchant’s website, as many merchants have already posted the necessary information.

Can services also be used later with the same gift card (even if it is expired)?

It is a matter of agreement with the issuer of the gift card, many merchants offer that opportunity themselves. We recommend turning to the merchant that issued the gift card. In case of disputes, the consumer has recourse and access to legal remedies (demand performance of obligations, demand compensation for damages, etc.). These agreements should definitely be entered into in writing.

Do I have to make the monthly payments on my loan and/or lease while I am on mandatory, unpaid leave?

Yes, you do. In consumer credit contracts, force majeure is not an impediment to fulfilling your financial obligations. If there are foreseeable losses in income, you should definitely get in touch with the service provider as soon as possible. For example, some banks offer grace periods.

Are the shops obligated to have their normal tills operating or can they operate only self-service checkouts because of the current situation?

It must always be possible for the customer to pay in cash. Shops generally have a member of staff on hand at their self-service checkouts to help clients and show how the self-service checkouts work.

 

Sailing

 

Will the border control still take place for small vessels at the harbour?

The border control shall not be carried out in respect of persons on pleasure boats entering the port of a Member State or leaving the port of a Member State and may enter a port that is not a border point. However, according to the assessment of the risks of illegal immigration, inspection and/or physical examination of pleasure boats can be carried out. In particular, if the coastline of third countries is located in the immediate vicinity of the territory of a Member State.

When entering Estonia, it is important to observe the requirements regarding entry into the country and in which case self-isolation is compulsory. The relevant information is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: https://vm.ee/et/teave-riikide-ja-liikumispiirangute-kohta-eestisse-saabujatele and Police and Border Guard Board home page: https://www.politsei.ee/et/juhend/eriolukord. Information regarding self-isolation obligation when arriving at another country is available on the web sites of these states and embassies.

 

Prevention measures, cleaning surfaces, disinfectants

 

What should animal keepers know regarding the coronavirus?

An employee of a meat processing company, a veterinary carrying out checks of animals and food in the market, a market employee and an employee working with live animals on a farm and processing animal products should, in addition to frequent hand washing, turn additional attention to the following:

  • Work clothing and gloves should be used when handling animals and fresh meat.
  • The equipment used and the work station should be regularly disinfected (at least once a day).
  • Protective clothing should be removed and washed at the end of work. It is recommended that the work clothes/protective clothes and other work equipment be kept at the place of work and washed on site.

More information on the web page of the Agriculture and and Food Board. (January 1, 2021, the Veterinary and Food Board was merged with Agriculture Board as Agriculture and Food Board).

Should apartment associations disinfect surfaces in common use, like handrails of the hall staircases and elevator buttons?

The Health Board recommends disinfecting the door handles, handrails, elevator buttons etc. of apartment buildings regularly. Viruses are destroyed by a disinfectant that contains more than 70% ethanol.

Hallways have to be cleaned with water and moisture-absorbent cloth because cleaning dust with a dry brush will not get rid of the virus. When cleaning, it is important to use disposable gloves and easy-to-clean working clothes and footwear in order to protect yourself from chemical cleaning agents and the contamination on surfaces.

If possible, the apartment associations could provide hand-sanitizers near entrances and lifts. You should, however, definitely remember to wash your hands thoroughly after coming home. You can find more recommendations from the guidelines of the Health Board (in Estonian).

To prevent the spread of disease it has been recommended to also air office spaces. How to clean the air when the office has general ventilation and the windows cannot be opened?

If it is not possible to air the rooms, surfaces should be regularly cleaned with disinfectant. The corona virus does not spread through the ventilation system but mainly by a close contact with a person suspected to be infected who has symptoms characteristic to the disease, mainly a cough.

The precondition to the spread of the virus is close contact with the bodily fluids (blood, excrements, urine, spit, sperm) of an infected person. When a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks, droplets containing the virus end up in the air. These virus droplets are quite heavy and therefore do not travel very far in the air. According to what we have learned thus far they can travel 2 meters at the maximum. Because of their heaviness it is also not probable that air flow would make the droplets travel further from surfaces.

The life span of virus droplets on surfaces depends on the air temperature and average humidity of the surrounding environment. At room temperature, or 22-25 degrees and 40% relative humidity, the virus survives up to 4 or 5 days. The higher the temperature and relative humidity, the faster the virus is destroyed.

An effective way to destroy the corona virus from surfaces is using different biocides or antimicrobial solutions. One of the most common ones is ethanol. A solution containing 70% ethanol is adequate for cleaning surfaces of COVID-19 contamination.

When should I wash my hands?

You should wash your hands:

  • before starting work;
  • before handling hot or cooked food;
  • after handling or cooking hot food;
  • after handling waste;
  • after cleaning up;
  • after using the toilet;
  • after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing;
  • after eating, drinking or smoking;
  • after handling cash.

 

Banking

 

What should I do I am if I not able to make loan repayments due to a loss of income?

If the loss of income may cause difficulties in loan repayments in due time and in full, contact your loan provider immediately. Quick action before the indebtedness occurs allows good grounds for reaching an arrangement. Also, it is important to take note your credit history would remain positivite, and no notices will be included to the Estonian Credit Register. Additional information: https://minuraha.ee/et/pangandus/laenud/makseraskustes-kaitumine.

What can I do to protect my family from the loss of income?

Loss of income, loss of employment or uncertainty about the future may threaten any family. It is therefore important to have a good overview of your or family's income and expenses, loan liabilities and repayment deadlines, and to consider carefully which expenses can be postponed or cancelled, to survive this difficult period. If you have maintained your income, and it is currently possible, some funds should be set aside for even harder periods to cope with unexpected situations. It would be good to have a financial buffer or some funds for peace of mind which would cover at least 3 months' expenses, but any amount would soften the impact if an unexpected cost is called for, or due the crisis, income is reduced. Additional information: https://blogi.fin.ee/2020/03/3-lihtsat-sammu-mida-teha-rahaliste-raskuste-uletamiseks-ja-valtimiseks/

What is a grace period (debt standstill) and when can I use it?

Grace period or debt standstill is an agreement with the bank not to repay the principal contributions of the loan during a certain period. Depending on the type of loan and the agreement with the bank or the lender, this may also mean a period of grace from interest payments (e.g. if the income is completely lost). The amount of deferred payments shall be allocated to the rest of the loan period, if necessary, the term of the loan agreement shall be extended. Other terms of the loan agreement are not changed. The duration of grace period is usually 3-12 months for mortgages, 3-6 months for leasing and consumer loans. No service fee is usually charged, or a reduced service fee is charged for contract amendment for grace period. In some cases, depending on the bank's policy, costs may be added in the form of fees for changing the contract. In specific cases, customer-specific distinctions are allowed. If you are already late with the repayment of the loan and have therefore violated the terms of the contract with the lender, the lender may also refuse the grace period. Grace period or debt standstill can be agreed with the lender and is usually due to temporary income reductions. To explore your options, please contact your lender(s). Additional information (in Estonian): https://www.minuraha.ee/et/pangandus/laenud/makseraskustes-kaitumine.

How do I know what my insurance covers?

The terms of the insurance are provided in the insurance contract, which also indicates the insurance coverage and duration. If any misunderstandings occur, contact your insurance undertaking (if you have signed the contract through an insurance broker or intermediary, you may also contact them). More information can be found here (in Estonian): https://www.minuraha.ee/index.php/et/kindlustus/probleem-kindlustusega

What should I do if I have fallen behind my loan, lease or instalment payments?

The most important thing is to address the problem immediately and contact the loan provider or the leasing company. You need to act fast before the indebtedness occurs, it will provide a good ground for reaching an arrangement. Also, it is important to take note your credit history would remain positive, and no notices will be included to the Estonian Credit Register. Additional information: https://minuraha.ee/et/pangandus/laenud/makseraskustes-kaitumine

What kind of debt-relief is available for small and medium size enterprises and large companies?

Small businesses can usually apply for a grace period under a simplified procedure, similar to private individuals. Medium-sized enterprises are handled according to their circumstances and the needs of the company.

What kind of debt-relief is available for individuals who have taken out a small loan? What kind of debt-relief is available for individuals who have taken an instant loan or a SMS-loan?

Grace period is available for clients with decreased solvency. The amount of deferred payments shall be added to the remainder of the loan period, and if necessary, the term of the loan agreement shall be extended. Other terms of the loan agreement will not be changed. Usually service fee is not charged when concluding the contract for the grace period, or lower-than-usual fee is charged. In specific cases, customer-specific derogations can be applied. For consumer financing, small loans and leasing finance, the duration of the grace period is usually 3-6 months.

Should payments be made only by card during the pandemic, in order to avoid virus transmission with cash?

Yes, it is true that payments should be made

  • preferably contactlesly (payment limit has been temporarily raised to 50 Euros) or
  • with a bank card, as usual.

If possible, do not use cash.

If you have no other option than paying in cash, be vigilant about hand hygiene.

 

Work of the scientific advisory board

 

What is the role of the Scientific Advisory Board formed at the Government Committee?

On 20 March, the Government Committee on the emergency situation convened a Scientific Advisory Board to collect and analyse expert information for the Government.

The Scientific Advisory Board:

  • evaluates the epidemiological situation in Estonia and in the world;
  • keeps the Government informed about the latest scientific research;
  • evaluates enacting and easing possible restrictions based on an epidemiological and clinical point of view, and makes recommendations to the Government for possible decisions. The decisions about restrictions and measures are taken by the government;
  • represents Estonia at the regular meetings of the European Union virology experts.

The recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Government are based on the following information:

  • international studies and research;
  • the statistics of the Health Board on the number of infections and people in need of hospital treatment, and prognostic models based on this data;
  • The University of Tartu study "Detecting coronavirus in waste water", the results of which are published on a weekly basis. It is possible to see the waste water study and its results on the web page of the University of Tartu https://www.ut.ee/en/research/detecting-coronavirus-waste-water;
  • The University of Tartu study "The prevalence of coronavirus in Estonia" that uses cross-sectional research to evaluate the actual prevalence of the coronavirus and the progress of the epidemic in Estonia. It is possible to see the study and its results on the web page of the University of Tartu https://www.ut.ee/en/research/study-prevalence-coronavirus-estonia.
  • A regular study ordered in cooperation between the Government Office and the Ministry of Social Affairs that maps the attitudes and behaviour of the population in relation to the COVID-19 epidemic. The results of the regular study can be seen on the web page of the Government Office https://riigikantselei.ee/uuringud (in Estonian).

Professor Irja Lutsar presents the results of the internal discussions at the Scientific Advisory Board to the Government at the cabinet meetings. The role of the Scientific Advisory Board is to consult and the decisions about restrictions are made by the Government.

The Head of the Scientific Advisory Board is the Professor of the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine of the University of Tartu, Irja Lutsar.

The members of the Advisory Board are:

  • Krista Fischer, Professor of Mathematical Statistics at the University of Tartu,
  • Andero Uusberg, Senior Researcher in Affective Psychology at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Tartu,
  • Peep Talving, Chief Doctor of North-Estonian Regional Hospital, Professor of Surgical Diseases at the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Tartu,
  • Pillerin Soodla, Doctor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tartu
  • Andres Merits, Professor and Applied Virologist at the University of Tartu.

Kristi Rüütel, the Scientific Secretary of the National Institute for Health Development, who was a member of the Council until the end of 2020 has been replaced by Andero Uusberg.

The work of the Scientific Advisory Board is coordinated by the Government Office and for more detailed information we ask you to turn to the Government Office directly.


The proposals of the Scientific Advisory Board can be downloaded from the cloud of the Government Office (in Estonian).

Risk level meters and intervals of indicators for every risk level have been established on the basis on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Board. More information on the risk levels of the spread of coronavirus can be found here: https://www.kriis.ee/en/when-risk-level-high.

Instructions for limiting the spread of the coronavirus according to the risk level can be found here: https://www.valitsus.ee/riskimaatriks (in Estonian).