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Estonia limits events capacity

Estonia limits events capacity

Tallinn has conceded to allow in-class learning for junior students at municipal schools

In Estonia, attending cultural events is now possible only with a Covid certificate attesting vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. The Delta surge in Europe, however, has pressured the government to further tighten restrictions for the sector.

From Monday, 15 November, audience capacity for public events will be limited to 1,000 participants for indoor events and 2,000 participants for outdoor events.

Two goals in mind

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that the rationale behind this restriction is that organizing major events is not reasonable right now, when the coronavirus situation in Estonia is precarious despite a downward infection trend. At a press conference on Thursday, covered by public broadcaster ERR, she explained that all government decisions are made with two goals in mind. "Number one: an open society. Number two: motivating people to get vaccinated. An order to stay in isolation would decrease motivation. Our vaccination rates are slowing down again."

The prime minister said most Estonians are responsible and comply with restrictions and recommendations but mandating measures is tricky. "Making things mandatory is complicated. Who monitors who lives with whom? There are blended families. People have summer homes," Kallas said.

She added that, in order to avoid virus transmission to the workplace, family physicians have been instructed to issue sick leave permits for people staying at home with an infected member of the household.

Tallinn’s municipal schools resume in-class learning

Meanwhile, Tallinn city municipality has backtracked on its decision to continue with remote learning for grades 4-8. Education officials in the local government told ERR that a go-ahead has been given to municipal schools stuck in distance learning since the October school holidays, to return to the classroom.

Moreover, the city government will no longer monitor how schools organize the remote learning process and ensure dispersion, leaving it up to individual schools. The requirement for schools is to disperse 30-50 percent of students.

Coronavirus situation

As of 12 November, Estonia has registered 20,996 active cases and 556 hospitalizations. The country’s 14 day rolling average of new cases is 1,531.71 per 100,000 people – among the highest in Europe. Most of the cases are in Harju, Tartu, Pärnu and Ida-Viru counties.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik noted at the government’s press conference that infection indicators are in a downward trend and hospitalization numbers are also declining, which hopefully would prevent the creation of additional Covid beds and the suspension of scheduled operations.

Kiik also reminded that people vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can receive a booster dose six months after completing the vaccination process, but those jabbed with AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines can get the booster after five months because the immunity provided by the latter wanes more quickly.

As of 12 November, 813,719 people have been vaccinated at least with one dose against COVID-19, while 773,092 have completed the vaccination cycle. There have been 104,684 booster doses administered so far.

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