More than a million protective masks will be distributed by Tallinn to school students, low-income families and pensioners, Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said on Thursday.
Speaking on ETV's morning show "Terevisioon", the mayor explained students will receive reusable masks and low-income families will be given disposable medical masks. The disposable masks will be distributed in boxes of 50.
"We can't afford any queues at the moment and this why people are being contacted directly," Kõlvart said. If somebody is not contacted but believes they qualify for free masks they can contact the city government.
Kõlvart said that the need for face coverings will last for the foreseeable future and the city will monitor if any other target groups also need masks.
"We started distributing masks in September when we gave them to teachers and social workers. Now we need to distribute them to people who don't only need them for work, but everyday life," Kõlvart said.
Asked whether he is afraid if there will be leftover masks when the vaccine is introduced, Kõlvart said he had been accused of overreacting in the past but life has proved the correct choices were made.
"When the government was just starting to think about what to do with masks, we had already ordered them," Kõlvart said.
In October, Tallinn launched a campaign encouraging people to wear masks or face coverings in public transport.
On Tuesday, the government introduced new restrictions which mean a person's mouth and nose needs to be covered in indoor public spaces, including public transport.
The rule has been republished below:
Obligation to wear a mask or to cover one's nose and mouth in public indoor spaces
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, as well as refresher training and refresher courses.
People for whom it is medically contraindicated, 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. The government is developing a plan to provide masks for disadvantaged people.
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright