Government agrees on new COVID-19 crisis resolution measures

20.10.2021 | 11:41

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Today, the Government agreed, in principle, on new control measures and support to help the overwhelmed hospitals and better contain the epidemic spread of the coronavirus. Additional control measures will be established temporarily from Monday, 25 October to 10 January 2022.

The obligation to wear a mask will become stricter and the access of unvaccinated adults to entertainment, culture and eating or drinking at restaurants and bars will be restricted, among others. Hospitals will be given support to cope with the crisis. Family medicine centres and local governments will be given support to accelerate the pace of vaccination.

“The epidemiological situation in Estonia is very critical and all hospitals in Estonia have had to limit scheduled treatment in order to save lives,” said Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. “In order to prevent further escalation of the crisis, the government agreed, in principle, on measures to protect the functioning of the society and the hospital network and promote vaccination.”

Stricter mask rules at public unchecked indoor premises

The Government states that people must wear masks at indoor premises not checked for the risk of infection and just covering one’s mouth and nose will no longer be enough.

The Government also urges people from the age of 12 to wear masks during organised activities where vaccination or recovery from the disease is checked. This concerns, for instance, cinemas, theatres and concerts.

Only medical or equivalent masks prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which is why the government recommends using only these masks.

Reduction of contacts

Businesses must guarantee that people keep distance from each other on commercial and service premises. Shopping centres should also close the sitting and play areas on their premises in general use.

The Government urges both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to work from home if possible.

Control measure for protection of unvaccinated people

Only the certificates that prove vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 will remain effective as COVID certificates. This means that people who are not vaccinated against COVID or recovered from the disease can no longer participate in organised activities where a COVID certificate is required.

The restriction covers sports, training, youth work, hobbies, hobby education, in-service training, also sports competitions, sports and exercise events, public saunas, spas, swimming pools, water parks, public meetings and events, conferences, theatres, concerns, cinemas, museums, exhibition halls, provision of entertainment services and food service companies.

Support for promotion of vaccination and for hospitals in coping with crisis

Support measures for hospitals

The Government supports the proposal to increase the additional daily bed charge paid to hospitals for COVID-19 patients by 75 percent. The measures will remain in force from October to December 2021.

The support to hospitals will cost 11.79 million euros and the plan is to cover it from the reserve capital of the Health Insurance Fund, which must be recovered in the new year.

Support to family medicine centres

The Government will allocate 5 million euros to the special-purpose reserve for payment of bonuses to family medicine centres for achievement of a higher vaccination level among people aged 60+. The Ministry of Social Affairs, the Estonian Health Insurance and the Estonian Association of Family Medicine are developing the detailed criteria of the support.

The Government also supports the proposal to pay family medicine centres an additional fee at the ordinary price of 5.30 euros for up to 120 vaccinations per week, which would double to 10.60 euros for each injection from the 121st injection. A similar additional fee would also be paid to school nurses. The measure will remain in force until 30 November 2021. The estimated cost of the measure is 415,000 euros and the plan is to cover it from the budget of the Health Insurance Fund.

Two-step support measure for local governments

Local governments that increase the coverage of their residents with vaccination by +10 percent in comparison with 1 October will receive support in the amount of 5 euros per each vaccinated resident. The second step entails paying local governments additional support in the amount of 5 euros for each vaccinated resident also when at least 80 percent of the total population has been fully vaccinated.

The measure will remain in force until the end of the year and will cost approximately 11.5 million euros.

The Government plans to approve the order of the new COVID-19 regulation soon.

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