Police to monitor mask-wearing compliance

People in masks at the opening ceremony of Black Nights Film Festival.
People in masks at the opening ceremony of Black Nights Film Festival. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) confirmed that on Monday (November 23) the obligation to cover your mouth and nose in public and restrictions on participants of public events will be agreed by the government. The police will be responsible for making sure the rules are followed.

Speaking on ETV's morning program "Terevisioon", Kiik said the government will confirm the juridical arrangements during a phone call later today. "By the end of today, the juridical directions will definitely be given, done and published," Kiik said.

Kiik said wearing a mask itself is not obligatory but covering your nose and mouth is. This can be done with a mask or a different type of face covering.

Regarding the legitimacy of the mask obligation, Kiik referred to an analysis carried out by the Ministry of Justice.

"The Chancellor of Justice's Bureau has explained why and in what situation there is a medical justification," Kiik said, highlighting that the spread of the virus is a rising trend in Estonia at the moment.

Kiik said it is certain this week that the number of people needing hospital treatment will pass the number admitted in spring during the emergency situation.

"In the current situation, we need to use all the available measures, both measures which are 100 percent effective and ones which aren't," the minister of social affairs said.

Monitoring the new restrictions will be the responsibility of the Health Board in cooperation with the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).

Kiik emphasized the aim is not to issue fines but there is now a legal basis to do so. He recalled the situation in spring when the police also monitored compliance with the 2+2 rule.

"The Estonian police is very reasonable, they understand that the aim is to stop the spread of the virus not to punish anybody. The police are supportive, giving guidelines, reminding, not punishing," Kiik said.

The Health Board's role is primarily developing the instructions and solving the possible issues in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs regarding juridical questions.

Monitoring compliance with the 50 percent occupancy rule will be left to event organizers. Ensuring that low-income families have access to masks is being discussed.

On Friday, the government agreed in principle on further restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

It is planned to make it obligatory to wear a mask or cover one's nose and mouth in public indoor spaces, extend the so-called 2+2 rule and reduce the maximum number of participants in public events.

Stricter measures will be applied in the epicentres of the coronavirus epidemic – in Harju County and Ida-Viru County. Both the Health Board and the scientists advising the government support the new restrictions.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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