Estonia placed under tougher restrictions to combat aggressive British variant

Estonia placed under tougher restrictions to combat aggressive British variant

The new contact-reducing measures will apply for a month from 11 March

Calling the COVID-19 situation in Estonia “extremely critical”, the government has decided to tighten the regime of restrictions across the country even further. The new, stricter measures will apply from 11 March to at least 11 April. According to the government, they will only be relaxed when the spread of the coronavirus has dropped to a level that does not endanger the functioning of the healthcare system. 

Hospitals under pressure

"A recent data show that the more aggressive British strain is spreading more seriously in Estonia than previously forecast. Our medical system is in crisis," wrote Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, quoted by the Government Communication Office.

“The situation in Tallinn and Northern Estonia is especially critical, where hospitals are under great pressure, but things are not good all over Estonia. Therefore, the government decided to impose additional restrictions aimed at minimizing people-to-people contact. This is the only way to get out of this crisis. How fast we do it will depend on everyone's behaviour. Please, let's sharply decrease contacts to break infection chains! Otherwise, the virus will break our healthcare, doing more and more damage to our loved ones and the weak in society," concluded the Reform Party chairwoman who is currently self-isolating after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Restrictions at a glance

The restrictions announced go as follows:

  • Educational institutions, including primary schools, will switch to distance learning. Institutions catering to children with special educational needs can remain open in a limited and safe capacity. Parents are strongly advised not to take children to kindergarten or childcare, unless absolutely necessary.
  • All shops, with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, shops selling aids and medical devices, telecoms outlets, opticians' shops, pet shops and petrol stations, must be closed. Other non-essential retail outlets can only operate if they offer outdoor delivery of goods or drive-in sales.
  • Service companies may continue to operate, subject to a 25 percent occupancy requirement.
  • Catering establishments will have to shutter, with only takeaways allowed.
  • The 2+2 rule will again apply outdoors for all people except for families (two persons can move together, keeping 2m distance from other people).
  • Indoor sports and hobby education will not be allowed, except for people with special needs. In outdoor settings, all hobby activities and sports must take place while observing the 2 + 2 rule.
  • People are urged to avoid contact. If a meeting is absolutely necessary, no more than six people should attend it at a time.

The government also decided to extend compensation measures for economic losses sustained in the areas most affected by the Covid crisis.

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