Estonia lifts coronavirus mask restriction on Sunday
It will no longer be mandatory to wear facemasks in public to limit the spread of coronavirus from Sunday (April 3), Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said on Saturday. Masks are still recommended especially for people in risk groups.
Writing on social media, the minister said Estonia has reached the "medium" or "yellow level" of the government's risk matrix, which was the precondition for lifting the restriction.
"According to the decision of Thursday's cabinet meeting, we agreed that as soon as we reach the yellow risk level we will hold a remote session and the obligation to wear a mask would be removed the next day," Kiik told ERR.
He said the infection rate and the number of patients being treated in hospitals continue to decline which means the rule can be lifted. The minister also encouraged people to continue getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a statement published on Saturday, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) confirmed it will no longer be mandatory to wear masks in public.
However, she said, it is still advisable to wear a mask in crowded indoor areas and on public transport — especially for people in risk groups — to follow social distancing rules and to use hand sanitizer.
"The coronavirus is circulating and is still contagious. On average, more than 1,000 people a day are diagnosed with coronavirus, and an average of almost 30 people a day are hospitalized with coronavirus," Kallas said.
The mask rule, introduced last year, required people to cover their faces in crowded indoor areas. Last week it was suggested the rule could be lifted on April 7, but the "yellow level" was reached faster than anticipated.
On Saturday morning, the seven-day average new case rate average was 1,027 per 100,000 people. The rate for hospitalized patients was 29.86. It needs to be below 30 to reach the "yellow level".
This article was updated on April 3 to add comments from Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
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Editor: Helen Wright