Government to give two reusable masks to people on low incomes

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

The government will issue two reusable facemasks to people on low incomes so they can follow the new nationwide face-covering restrictions introduced on Tuesday. Approximately, 40,000 masks will be handed out.

The Ministry of Finance will organise the procurement of masks and will distribute them to local governments, who will then give them to those in need. They will be issued to those on subsistence benefits, which is approximately 20,000 people.

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab said the government has stocked up on disposable single-use masks and now needs to find a source for reusable face coverings. "Of course, domestic manufacturers are preferred," he said.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said everyone, regardless of their income, should be able to follow the rules and keep safe.

"It is clear that for many Estonians, buying masks is an additional cost, which may further affect their daily livelihood. In order for all people of Estonia to be able to protect themselves from the coronavirus, we decided today to guarantee masks to the people who are financially most vulnerable," he said.

On Monday, the government agreed people must cover their noses and mouths when inside public buildings, including on public transport. It will be possible to issue fines if people for non-compliance.

It is not mandatory to wear a mask but the nose and mouth must be covered by something. It is hoped the new restrictions will help reduce the spread of coronavirus. 

The rules came into effect on Tuesday, November 24 and can be read here. The restriction regarding face coverings is republished below:

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

An obligation to wear a mask or to cover one's nose and mouth is introduced in public indoor spaces, including public transport and service points.

This obligation does not apply to children under the age of 12 or if wearing a mask is not possible for health reasons, special needs, the nature of work or activity, or other important reasons.

A public indoor space is a space intended for public use that can be entered by anyone, regardless of the pre-registration requirement, for example; it is a place with many people who do not come into contact with each other on a daily basis. A public transport vehicle is also considered a public indoor space.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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