Stenbock House, 23 November 2020 – At an e-session, the government approved additional restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus SARS-Cov-2, agreed on Friday to protect the health and lives of the Estonian people and prevent overloading the medical system. The order will enter into force today, 24 November. Restrictions on indoor public meetings, events, and entertainment with stationary seating will take effect on Saturday, 28 November. The restrictions are reviewed every two weeks.
According to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, the spread of infection in Estonia remains high and the coronavirus threatens us everywhere. “Without additional restrictions, the healthcare system may become overburdened. The normal coping of other areas is also in danger,” he stated. “The purpose of the restrictions is to keep life in Estonia as normal as possible. How long we can do this depends on everyone’s behaviour, that is, how seriously we comply with the restrictions that are designed to protect our normal lives.” The Prime Minister added that the government therefore does not impose any absolute restrictions or completely close any institutions.
Both the Health Board and the scientists advising the government support the new restrictions.
Restrictions imposed all over Estonia
Obligation to wear a mask or to cover one’s nose and mouth in public indoor spaces
An obligation to wear a mask or to cover one's nose and mouth is introduced in public indoor spaces, including public transport and service points.
This obligation does not apply to children under the age of 12 or if wearing a mask is not possible for health reasons, special needs, the nature of work or activity, or other important reasons.
A public indoor space is a space intended for public use that can be entered by anyone, regardless of the pre-registration requirement, for example; it is a place with many people who do not come into contact with each other on a daily basis. A public transport vehicle is also considered a public indoor space.
The 2 + 2 rule extends to all public indoor spaces
The so-called 2 + 2 rule must be followed everywhere in public indoor spaces, which means that up to two people can move together but keep a distance of two metres from other people.
Among other places, this applies, for example, in a bank office, museum, exhibitions, hairdressing and beauty salons, but also in water centres, swimming pools, and saunas. The restriction does not apply to families or when it cannot be reasonably ensured; for example, in public transport vehicles with many passengers. There, in addition to keeping the maximum possible distance, a mask must be worn.
The current 10 + 2 rule will continue to apply in catering establishments and places where entertainment services are provided. The rule means that a group may include up to 10 people, but they have to keep a distance of two metres from others. These restrictions do not apply to families and also in cases where this condition cannot be reasonably guaranteed.
Public events and meetings, culture and entertainment, churches
From 28 November, a lower maximum number for participants in public events will apply. Up to 400 people can take part in an indoors public event with stationary seating; otherwise, up to 250 people are allowed. For outdoor events, the maximum number of participants is 500. The maximum number of participants does not apply in children’s playrooms.
In addition, people may move outside the stationary seating area by following the so-called 2 + 2 rule instead of in groups of 10. This means that in common areas, such as wardrobes, lobbies, etc., up to 2 people can move together and keep a distance of 2 metres from the others. These restrictions do not apply to families and also in cases where this condition cannot be reasonably guaranteed.
Due to the national obligation, masks must also be worn in these public indoor spaces, subject to the exceptions mentioned above.
The restriction will come into force later than other measures, so that performing arts institutions and other event organisers in places with stationary seats can make the necessary preparations for the implementation of the order.
Masks must be worn or one’s nose and mouth must be covered. If possible, distance of two metres from other people must be kept.
Up to two spectators may move together at public sporting events, keeping a distance of at least two metres from other, except for families or where such conditions cannot reasonably be guaranteed.
The organiser must ensure compliance with the 50% occupancy rule and make sure that the maximum number of participants in a sporting event is 250 people.
Spectators must wear a mask indoors. The obligation to wear a mask does not apply to children under the age of 12 or if it is not possible to wear a mask due to health reasons, special needs, or the nature of work and activity.
The conditions do not apply to early childhood education and care, basic, and secondary education activities.
The 50% occupancy requirement and 250 people limit do not apply to professional and semi-professional sports activities carried out in the sports systems of sports governing bodies. In addition to adults, they also do not apply to youth sports, i.e. athletes and teams who participate in Estonian title competitions organised by sports governing bodies.
The organiser of sports competitions must ensure the dispersion of people and compliance with the 50% occupancy requirement indoors. The maximum number of participants in the event may not exceed 250 people indoors and no more than 500 people outdoors. Spectators must wear a mask indoors.
RESTRICTIONS IN HARJU COUNTY AND IDA VIRU COUNTY
Public events and meetings, culture and entertainment, churches
From 28 November, there will be a 50% occupancy limit in indoor halls with stationary seating, such as theatres, cinemas, concert venues as well churches, and public events, public meetings, and entertainment activities.
Due to the national restriction, a mask must be worn or one’s nose and mouth must be covered anywhere in these places (all of the above exceptions apply).
The maximum number of participants in indoor places with stationary seating is 400; elsewhere else, it is 250. For outdoor events, the maximum number is 500. The restriction does not apply in children’s playrooms.
People may move outside the stationary seating area by following the so-called 2 + 2 rule instead of in groups of 10.
Due to the national restriction, masks must also be worn in these public indoor spaces, subject to the exceptions mentioned above.
The restriction will come into force later than other measures, so that performing arts institutions and other event organisers in places with stationary seats can make the necessary preparations for implementing the order.
Hobby education and activities and indoor refresher training and refresher courses
There is a limit on groups – they can consist of up to 10 people. The organiser must ensure that the different groups do not come into contact with each other.
The organisation of any of the above activities must also take into account the national restriction on wearing a mask or covering one’s nose and mouth, which does not apply to children under the age of 12 and which is subject to all exceptions provided for above, including where the wearing of a mask is not possible due to the nature of the work and the activity.
Shared items must be disinfected after each use; the service provider must ensure the availability of disinfectants and compliance with the disinfection requirements in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.
None of these restrictions applies to the provision of refresher training and refresher courses related to the country’s military defence to ensure the implementation of the planned training cycle of members of the Defence Forces, the Defence League district, and foreign units in Estonia within the framework of military cooperation. The restriction also does not extend to activities in the field of internal security.
Group training can be performed in groups of 10 people. For example, this applies to indoor fitness classes and other similar training activities. The restriction does not apply to professional and semi-professional sports under the auspices of sports governing bodies, including youth sports and extracurricular sports activities. The different groups must not come into contact with each other.
Up to two spectators may move together at indoor sporting or exercise events, keeping a distance of at least two metres from the others. The restriction does not apply to families or in situations where it is not reasonably possible to comply with it.
Due to the national restriction, spectators must wear a mask or cover their nose and mouth indoors. Here, too, all the exceptions related to wearing a mask apply.
The 50% occupancy requirement and the limit of 250 people do not apply to professional and semi-professional sports activities in the sports system of sports governing bodies. They also do not apply to youth sports and athletes and teams who participate in Estonian title competitions organised by sports governing bodies.
The regulation of distance learning in schools in Harju County and Ida-Viru County is being designed by the Health Board together with the Ministry of Education and Research.
If the restrictions on preventing the spread of the virus are not complied with, the state has the right to apply administrative coercive measures. The maximum amount of the penalty payment is 9,600 euros, which can be imposed repeatedly. The purpose of the penalty payment is to oblige people to properly comply with the requirements and restrictions established in the order.
The Government Communication Unit publishes the order and the explanatory memorandum on the website kriis.ee.
Explanatory memorandum: https://www.kriis.ee/sites/default/files/eriolukord/sel_vv_20417k.pdf