Under a new government order, homeless people are subject to the same coronavirus restrictions as the rest of the population, meaning that those affected staying at a shelter or safe house must remain there and not go out.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), who is also head of the emergency situation declared on March 12, signed the order on Thursday, BNS reports, with the restrictions applying to anyone staying at a homeless shelter who had come into contact with a confirmed coronavirus carrier.
There are currently two confirmed COVID-19 cases among those who regularly use homeless shelters in Tallinn, BNS reports.
Those quarantining at a homeless shelter, safe house or similar, must be assured of regular meals and other essentials; the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) will conduct compliance checks.
New arrivals to homeless facilities must also be kept separate from those quarantining.
There are a total of 18 providers of homeless shelters nationwide, providing a total of 626 places, BNS reports. The largest of these is a 264-place facility in Tallinn, followed by shelters in Pärnu and Narva which provide just over 60 places, and one in Tartu with just over 50.
Coronavirus restrictions as they have affected different sectors of society have been the subject of some debate, including questions of the legality of curtailments imposed on prison inmates, who have largely been confined to their cells in the emergency situation so far. The Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise said earlier in the week this went against human rights norms both in Estonia and Europe as a whole.
The new government order, as with all others, enters into force upon receiving its signature from the prime minister – unlike with laws, presidential assent is not required – and is subject to review fortnightly.
Editor: Andrew Whyte