Health minister: Mask rule may be lifted for vaccinated people

Tanel Kiik.
Tanel Kiik. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

One way to encourage vaccination would be to lift the obligation for vaccinated people to wear a mask, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) suggested on Wednesday.

Under the current rules everyone must wear a mask in shops and on public transport. This has proved to be controversial, the minister said at a conference organized by the Center Party.

Kiik said it would be sensible to consider abolishing the requirement for vaccinated people. Chairman of the Center Party Jüri Ratas made the same suggestion on Tuesday and it was also discussed last week.

Kiik suggested counties that have reached a vaccination coverage rate of 70 percent could lift the regulation. So far, only Tartu and Hiiu counties have hit this target.

Kiik said it is reasonable to gradually relax restrictions by county because it may motivate residents in regions which lag behind to get vaccinated.

The government is also considering offering additional benefits to vaccinated people and companies with high-coverage, he said. Companies will be informed through the Estonian Health Insurance Fund of the coverage of their employees' vaccinations.

The minister said more activities and events could also be added to the list of those where a coronavirus certificate is needed on entry.

Restrictions could be completely lifted when 70 percent of the population is vaccinated and 85 percent of risk groups, he said. The goal is to vaccinate 90 percent of educators.

Estonia will miss the EU's goal to vaccinated 70 percent of the adult population at least once by the end of September, ministers have said.

Kiik said the current forecast suggests 70 percent coverage will be reached in mid-October, 75 percent in mid-November and 80 percent by New Year's Eve.

As of Wednesday, 743,000 people, or 56 percent of the whole population, have been vaccinated with at least one dose. When only adults are counted this rises to over 65 percent.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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