Prime minister does not support mandatory mask-wearing

State Secretary Taimar Peterkop giving a mask to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas at a Government meeting on 6 April .
State Secretary Taimar Peterkop giving a mask to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas at a Government meeting on 6 April . Source: Valitsuse kommunikatsioonibüroo

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) does not agree with making the wearing of face masks mandatory in public but reiterated wearing a mask could become a social norm. The government's views on wearing masks have been mixed.

Speaking on newspaper Postimees' live broadcast "Otse Postimehest", when asked if wearing a mask should be mandatory, Ratas said no.

According to the prime minister, the obligation of wearing a mask would cause problems, for example, people with hearing impairments, as well as for people with breathing difficulties. "If we say that a mask is mandatory, then at some point it could be dangerous to their health in a very serious sense," Ratas said.

He said there are currently about a dozen European countries where wearing a mask in public places is common, and a dozen countries that have not made it mandatory.

"The rest have been in an area that has said it's advisable. I've said it should be a social norm, I think that's right. But if you ask me whether it should be made mandatory, for example indoors, I think it is quite difficult to do today."

Making masks mandatory is also made difficult due to the availability of masks and prices, which have increased, he said.

"So I think it's very, very complicated. However, when we talk about certain reliefs, the people who continue to work on the front lines, the requirement for personal protective equipment there is important," Ratas said.

Last week, the prime minister's fellow Center Party member, Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab, proposed the government should establish a requirement that face masks be worn in public enclosed spaces until the end of the emergency situation. 

The proposal has provoked mixed reactions from politicians as well as researchers and health officials. The government is due to discuss the issue again on Wednesday.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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