Schools to close Monday, Ida-Viru County in lockdown ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Empty classroom. (photo is illustrative)
Empty classroom. (photo is illustrative) Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

The Christmas vacation is to start this weekend in effect, following a government decision to close schools from Monday, December 14. Ida-Viru County will be in virtual lock-down from the same date.

The move followed recommendations from the government's own scientific council, as well as the Health Board (Terviseamet) and comes despite nominal opposition from education minister Jaak Aab and social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (both from the Center Party) to having such restrictions even in Ida-Viru County alone.

The government promised on Tuesday to revisit the topic two days later, but already made the announcement Wednesday mid-morning.

This means schools are out, as are universities, from Monday, though remote e-learning is permissible in special cases.

Ida-Viru County, the worst-affected region of Estonia by the coronavirus at present, is to see a tightening up of border controls at Narva.

The government says that the latest raft of restrictions may be extended if the continued coronavirus spread is not arrested, though financial compensations for businesses or regions most hit by the restrictions have also been promised.

Kindergartens still working

Prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center), himself in quarantine after being notified late last week that he was a coronavirus close contact, announced via his social media account that all educational institutions (barring kindergartens and other care facilities for small children, which will remain open) will close from December 14. This includes universities and vocational and professoinal higher education institutions, as well as schools.

The back-to-school date in January has not been changed at present.

Special needs children may receive in-person tuition, and one-to-one personal consultations, as well as exams and other educational activities may take place if needed.

Sports, leisure and other extra-curricular activities are also caught by the restrictions, with only one-on-one training or outdoor, individual sports permitted.

This does not apply to professional athletes, however, who can both train and compete, but without spectators.

The government says compliance will be monitored.

Ida-Viru County restrictions

Ida-Viru County, which has a per capita COVID-19 rate about double that of Harju and Tartu counties, will see all cinemas, theaters, museums, restaurants, spas, sports clubs and other entertainment and leisure facilities closed for three weeks from December 14.

Churches can continue to operate if they adhere to the maximum 50 percent occupancy, mask-wearing, disinfectant-providing and 2+2 social distancing rules, with the administering of the eucharist and similar requiring special attention.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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