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Estonia scraps 2+2 distancing rule for outdoor activities

Estonia scraps 2+2 distancing rule for outdoor activities

Universities and colleges will remain on remote learning till the end of the academic year

The 2+2 social distancing rule, which was reintroduced by the Estonian government at the beginning of March this year to help contain the third wave of the coronavirus, no longer has to be followed outdoors. This transpires from an official clarification provided today. 

Rule still valid indoors 

The 2+2 rule implies that people can move around in groups of no more than two (except members of the same family), while keeping a distance of two metres from others. Announcing the forthcoming relaxation of restrictions for general education schools, shops and outdoor eateries from 3 May, the government stressed that the 2+2 rule must be adhered to indoors but did not make a specific mention whether it would still apply outdoors. Now the case is settled. 

"The main reason is that this virus is less contagious outdoors. It is now clearer how it behaves. This knowledge is improving every week," Secretary of State Taimar Peterkop told ERR.

Universities to operate remotely

The government will allow most schools to return to in-class learning from 17 May. However, higher education institutions will remain on distance learning until the end of the academic year, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported yesterday.

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, Aune Valk, Vice-Rector for Studies of the University of Tartu, said: "We're looking at the infection numbers and in fact the situation hasn't improved, we're still at the amber stage. The other factor is that the semester will be over very soon."

Data provided by the Estonian Health Board on Friday showed 279 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in the last 24 hours, and there had been five deaths. Nationwide, 5,089 tests were performed and the positivity rate was 5.5 percent. The 14-day infection rate for the country is 327.5 per 100,000 population.

Graduation ceremonies will still go ahead, with a different approach to venue size. While Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and the Estonian University of Life Sciences (Eesti Maaülikool) in Tartu have vowed to use the main, regular halls for the events, the University of Tartu will squeeze them in a smaller building.

Regarding exams, they can be taken remotely, too. Students at TalTech and the University of Life Sciences whose subjects require taking the exam in-hall, must submit a rapid Covid test. 

Some students were downbeat that they could not attend lectures together this year and would not have a chance to mix until the autumn at least. Nevertheless, student's unions supported the policy of remote learning, not least because many students have returned to their parental homes to save on rent.

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