The majority of shops will close and new movement restrictions will be introduced in Saaremaa and Muhu in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and limit the burden on the health system, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who is in charge of the emergency situation, announced late on Saturday night.
On Saturday, Ratas (Center) signed an amendment which will see most of the stores and close contact service providers close their doors from Sunday (March 29) in the municipalities of Saaremaa and Muhu. Selling items online is still allowed.
Stricter restrictions on movement will go into force on Monday (March 30). Ratas wants everyone who can work from home to do so.
People must carry ID when they leave the house and the police will be carrying out spot checks. Fines of up to €2,000 can now be issued.
A statement said the goal of making the emergency situation regulations stricter is to limit the local spread of the virus and reduce the burden on the health care system. This helps to protect the lives and health of the people in Saaremaa and Muhu.
There are already movement restrictions in place for Estonia's western islands which means they can only be accessed by people who live or work there.
President Kersti Kaljulaid also gave her permission on Sunday for up to 40 members of the defense forces to join patrols in Saaremaa to enforce the new measures
On Sunday, after 39 new positive tests were confirmed, Saaremaa's number of coronavirus cases totaled 241. In Harju County, Estonia's most populated county which includes the capital Tallinn, 230 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed. Saaremaa has a population of 33,000 while Harju county's is 582,500.
On Friday, Saaremaa's confirmed infection cases number was 51.3 COVID-19 infected patients per 10,000 residents, the hospital said, highlighting as a comparison that the indicator was 34.6 in Lombardy, Italy, 11.5 in Hubei, China, and 3.3 in Tallinn and Harju County.
On Sunday this figure stood at 72.79 infected patients per 10,000 residents
The government's full announcement can be viewed here.
Starting Sunday, March 29:
- Grocery stores, pharmacies, telecommunications stores, bank offices, parcel terminals, post offices, stores where technical aids and medical devices are sold or rented, and optician's stores may remain open in the municipalities of Saaremaa and Muhu.
- Construction stores may remain open for sales through a window or from the storeroom. The store's sales area must be closed.
- Gardening shops may also remain open.
- All other stores and markets must be closed to customers.
- All eateries must be closed for on-site eating, takeaway and delivery service for taking food home are allowed.
- All services that require close contact must be closed – cosmetic surgery services, beauty and personal services (for instance hairdressing, manicure, pedicure, beautician, tattooing and solarium services), and massage and other rehabilitation services as wellness services.
- Libraries are closed to visitors.
The restriction does not include employees and owners, so e-commerce can continue.
Social and health care services, soup kitchen services, food aid, care service, services aimed at disabled children and adults, and treatment and rehabilitation services are still allowed.
Starting Monday, March 30:
New stricter movement restrictions will be introduced:
- The islanders must stay at home as much as possible.
- It is allowed to go for a walk or a workout with family or one other person.
- Visits can be made to the grocery store, pharmacy or doctor.
- Physically going to work is only possible if remote working cannot be done.
- Children can be taken to and from kindergarten.
- Visits can be made to the post office or post terminal.
- If you are taking care of the elderly or disabled personal protective equipment must be worn.
- Pets can be walked and taken to the vet.
- It is allowed to move in your own garden or on your own property, to do forestry or farm work at home, to fish, to do gardening.
The emergency situation measures will be monitored by law enforcement who will begin spot checks of people moving outside.
A person must have an ID document with them when they leave the house. A general 2+2 rule applies to moving around outside, according to which only 2 people can be in a public space together and a 2 metre distance must be kept from others.
If a person does not stick to the new measures the police will issue a warning. The next sanction used will be a penalty payment of up to €2,000.
People violating the terms of the restriction will be brought to justice, the statement said.
The measures will be re-evaluated every two weeks.
More information can be found at www.kriis.ee or you can call the coronavirus helpline at 1247, which also offers psychological first aid.
The latest data can be viewed here.
A list of the restrictions implemented so far in Estonia can be viewed here.
Editor: Helen Wright