Health Board recommends wearing reusable masks ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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Prime Minister Jüri Ratas wearing a mask.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas wearing a mask. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Deputy Director General Mari-Anne Härma said on Wednesday that people could wear reusable masks to stop the spread of coronavirus as one-time use surgical masks are expensive and tend to indicate signs of illness.

Härma said disposable masks are expensive and does not think everyone needs to stock up on one-time use surgical masks.

"A reusable fabric mask is enough, they are sold at different price ranges and can be washed and ironed," said Härma. She said disposable masks tend to be distributed at hospitals.

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) also recommended people use reusable masks in order to save money.

"In order not to put a heavy burden on low-paid people, it is possible to limit ourselves to covering the face in other ways," Kiik said.

Kiik stated that compared to spring, the mask situation is better - they are cheaper, they are available and they will not run out anytime soon.

On Tuesday, the government issued guidelines which recommend anyone over the age of 12 - without medical problems - should wear a mask or face covering which covers mouth and nose on public transport and at events.

Wearing a mask is not mandatory in Estonia and fines will not be issued if one is not worn. Tallinn has launched a mask wearing campaign on its public transport services.

In recent weeks, members of the government and Health Board have been seen wearing masks at press conferences to set an example.

Government guideline leads to rise in mask sales

Outlets selling masks have seen increase in sales in the last 24 hours after the government announced its new rules.

Andrus Toom, a shareholder in a company that manufactures masks, told ERR, the demand for the company's products has increased at least 10 times over.

"We have received a lot of inquiries about both medical masks and reusable fabric masks. We are seeing this activity on the so-called retail side," said Toom, explaining the orders from the medical sector have not increased.

Kaimo Niitaru, assortment director of Prisma supermarket, told ERR more masks are currently being purchased by shoppers.

"The growth in sales has been many times higher than in previous weeks," said Niitaru.

He added that there are not many mask wearers in stores but there are plans to add signs to remind shoppers.

Niitaru said Prisma's stock of masks are sufficient and they are currently cheaper than in the spring.

Editor's note: The article was updated to add quotes from mask sellers.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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