New restrictions: Government agrees obligatory mask rules, extends 2+2 ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

New restrictions making it obligatory to wear a mask or face-covering in public indoor spaces, extending the 2+2 rule and reducing the maximum number of participants in public events were agreed by the government at an e-session on Monday.

Additional stricter measures will be applied in the epicentres of the coronavirus epidemic – in Harju and Ida-Viru counties. Restrictions will be reviewed every two weeks

Restrictions concerning masks and social distancing will enter into force on Tuesday, November 24.

Restrictions related to indoor public meetings, events and entertainment with fixed seating will take effect on Saturday, November 28

Both the Health Board and the scientists advising the government support the new restrictions.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said the situation related to the spread of the coronavirus in Estonia is becoming more critical, especially in terms of the functioning of the medical system.

"The epidemic spread of the coronavirus in Estonia means that we must introduce stricter restrictions to ensure the continuity of the Estonian health care system and the availability of treatment for everyone, even as the number of COVID-19 patients continues to increase. We have the opportunity to slow down the growth of the infection rate with joint efforts. For this, we must follow the restrictions set by the government and behave reasonably and in a mutually supportive manner," said Ratas.

"All of us must now make every effort so we could spend the Christmas holidays with our loved ones. Let us postpone major holiday events to next year and spend this Christmas in a smaller family circle."

Previously, the guidance issued by the government about wearing a mask was considered to be a "guideline" and not an obligation.

If the restrictions are not met, the state has the right to issue a fine with a limit of €9,600  

The new rules can be read here in English.

National-wide restrictions 

Obligation to wear a mask or to cover one's nose and mouth in public indoor spaces

There is an obligation to wear a mask or cover one's nose and mouth indoors, including on public transport and at service points, during hobby education and activities.

People for whom it is medically difficult, as well as children under the age of 12, do not need to cover their nose and mouth or wear a mask if sufficient distance is ensured and in other justified cases.

A public indoor space is a space intended for public use that can be entered by anyone, regardless of, for example, a pre-registration requirement. It is a place where a lot of people do not usually come into contact with each other on a daily basis. 

Public transport is considered a public indoor space.

The government is developing a plan to provide masks for disadvantaged people.

The 2+2 rule extends to all public indoor spaces

The so-called 2+2 rule must be followed everywhere in public indoor spaces, which means that two people can move together but keep a distance of two metres from other people. This applies, for example, in bank branches, hairdressing and beauty salons, and elsewhere.

The current 10+2 rule will continue to apply in catering establishments and places where entertainment services are provided. The rule means that a group may include up to 10 people, but they have to keep a distance of two metres from others. These restrictions do not apply to families.

Public events and meetings, culture and entertainment, churches

From November 28, the maximum number of participants in public events will be reduced. Up to 400 people can take part in an indoor public event with stationary seating, otherwise, up to 250 people are allowed. For outdoor events, the maximum number of participants is 500.

Masks must be worn in cinemas, theaters and concert halls.

In addition, people may move outside the stationary seating area by following the so-called 2+2 rule. This means that in common areas, such as lobbies, up to two people can move together, who must keep a distance of two meters from the others. These restrictions do not apply to families moving or staying together, nor in cases where this condition cannot reasonably be guaranteed.

Public transport

Wear a mask or cover your nose and mouth. If possible, keep a distance of two meters from other people.

Indoor sports 

Up to two spectators may be present and traveling together at public sporting or exercise events, keeping a distance of at least two meters apart from others, except for families moving or staying together, or where such conditions cannot reasonably be guaranteed.

The organizer must ensure up to 50 percent occupancy and the number of participants in a sports or exercise event does not exceed 250 people.

Spectators must wear a mask indoors. 

The conditions do not apply to extracurricular, basic and secondary education activities.

The condition of up to 50 percent occupancy and the limit of 250 people do not apply to professional and semi-professional sports activities in the sports system of the sports federation.

Sports competitions 

Organizers of sports competitions must ensure the dispersal of people and up to 50 percent occupancy indoors. The number of participants in the event must not exceed 250 people indoors and there must not be more than 500 people outdoors. 

Spectators must wear a mask indoors.

 

Additional restrictions in Harju and Ida-Viru counties

Public transport

During peak hours, more buses will be added to the schedule, and masks must be worn or one's nose and mouth must be covered.

Hobby education and activities and indoor refresher training and refresher courses

A group limit of 10 people is set and the people must be dispersed.

The obligation to wear a mask or cover one's nose and mouth will apply to people over 12 years of age. The principle of reasonableness must be followed.

Shared items must be disinfected after each use; the service provider must ensure the availability of disinfectants and compliance with the disinfection requirements in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.

These restrictions do not apply to training related to military defense or internal security.

Public events and meetings, culture and entertainment, churches

From November 28, a 50 percent occupancy limit will apply to cultural institutions, which means halls with stationary seating, such as theatres, cinemas, concert venues as well as churches, and to public events, public meetings, and entertainment activities.

The obligation to wear a mask or to cover one's nose and mouth will apply everywhere in these places.

A dispersed seating model must be applied in rooms with stationary seating.

The maximum number of participants in indoor places with stationary seating is 400; elsewhere else, it is 250. For outdoor events, the maximum number is 500.

It is stipulated that people may move outside the stationary seating area by following the so-called 2+2 rule.

Indoor sports activities

Group training can be performed in groups of 10 people. For example, this applies to indoor fitness classes and other similar training activities. The restriction does not apply to professional and semi-professional sports under the auspices of sports governing bodies, including youth sports and extracurricular sports activities.

Spectators must wear a mask indoors. The obligation to wear a mask does not apply to children under the age of 12 or if it is not possible to wear a mask for health reasons, special needs or the nature of work and activity.

The conditions do not apply to extracurricular, basic and secondary education activities.

The condition of up to 50 percent occupancy and the limit of 250 people do not apply to professional and semi-professional sports activities in the sports system of the sports federation. This does not apply not only to adults but also to youth sports, ie to those athletes and teams who participate in Estonian title competitions organized by the Sports Association. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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