Tallinn's open air playgrounds and sports facilities are to be reopened from Monday, May 11, the city's mayor, Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) announced Wednesday morning. Facilities will be reopened in stages, due to their numbers, and will be followed by museums and the city's zoo, with public beaches being opened in Tallinn from June 1. Opening some other facilities, including gyms and swimming pools, is the national government's decision to make.
Kõlvart said that with 330 playgrounds and 55 outdoor training areas in the city, not all could be opened in one fell swoop.
During the step-down it also needs to be borne in mind that due to Tallinn's size, caution should be exercised to avoid a further resurgence in coronavirus numbers - something which is still growing by new cases per day in any case, the mayor said.
"Unfortunately, the number of new confirmed cases keeps growing in Tallinn," Kõlvart said, according to a Tallinn City Government press release.
"We must take in account the fact Tallinn has the largest population in the country, and should an outbreak occur, it could quickly spread both in the city and to other neighboring local governments," he went on.
"Therefore, we will relax the restrictions in multiple stages and follow the criteria recommended by the Health Board as well as the easing decisions of the Government. A step-by-step approach gives us an opportunity to monitor the situation and, if necessary, change the course of the plan."
"Only areas from which tapes and surrounding temporary fences have been removed may be used. In this case, the Tallinners can be sure that the attractions have been thoroughly cleaned," emphasized the Mayor.
Timeline of Tallinn facilities reopening:
May 11: Playgrounds and outdoor sporting facilities will start to be reopened, beginning with those taped off to the public, followed by those closed using more substantial fencing. All these facilities should be open by the end of next week (weekend of May 16-17).
School sports fields and stadia will also be opened from this date, as will the Tallinn Mental Health Center (Tallinna vaimse tervise keskus).
May 18: Phase two starts with reopening youth centers, the vital statistics office (Tallinna perekonnaseisuamet – a popular wedding location), cemeteries, libraries and the city's archives.
The Tallinn botanical gardens' indoor area and Tallinn Zoo's outdoor zones will also open on this date, as will the Iru care home, Tallinn family center (Tallinna perekeskus), the Juks support center, Tallinn social work center (Tallinna sotsiaaltöö keskus) and the Suur-Sõjamäe day center are also to open their doors.
Funeral services will be possible at the Pärnamäe, Liiva, Siselinna, Rahumäe and Metsakalmistu chapels, though with a limit of 10 mourners. Funerals had up to now been conducted only outside, to a very short duration and maintaining the 2+2 rule.
May 19: Tallinn's museums will open their doors.
June 1: The third stage sees public beaches, indoor zoo facilities, day care centers for the elderly and social centers opening.
Public beaches, such as those at Strooirand and Pirita, will be opened in Tallinn on this date.
Ferries to the island of Aegna will also start on June 1.
Dates for the opening of gyms and sports halls, public swimming pools, saunas and cultural centers hinge on the national government's decision and have not been announced yet.
The fate of summer camps is similarly not known yet, and the government is still to set the maximum number of participants permitted at public events in June and July (numbers from 50 to 100 have been mentioned in the media).
Schools remain closed
Kõlvart also confirmed that schools would remain closed to the end of the academic year (late May) as previously decided, though one-on-one lessons or small groups may be feasible, according to a recent national government decision (see below).
Public transport remains free, not only to Tallinn residents but also non-residents, through the emergency situation and beyond (to the end of May).
Kindergarten fees in Tallinn remain waived to month end as well.
Finally, Kõlvart stated that despite the easing of the emergency situation measures, Tallinners must also beready for a possible second wave of the virus.
"This may seem like a pessimistic approach, but it is better to be ready and rejoice that nothing happened than to be in a situation where the second wave has arrived and our readiness is incomplete," the mayor added.
National government: Small groups in schools, opening of museums, sports training for elite athletes, driving lessons all being reinstated through May
The national government decided Tuesday evening to permit museums and exhibition facilities to open from May 11, and allow expanded training options for top athletes, both indoors and outdoors, following requirements including disinfectant availability, with immediate effect.
From May 15, normal school activities with groups to up to 10 members will be allowed by the national government, including hobby schools and youth centers.
This does not permit exams in larger premises like halls or gyms.
Driving lessons are also now permitted, following the usual hygiene and disinfectant requirements, and religious worship is to be permitted from May 10 if complying with the 2+2 rule.
The emergency situation, declared by the national government on March 12, expires on May 17.
Editor: Andrew Whyte