Additional restrictions to be established Saturday

Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said at the government's press conference on Thursday that supplementary measures are to be introduced from Saturday for the purpose of curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

On Thursday, the government approved additional measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that will limit the opening hours of entertainment venues, public event venues and catering establishments and reduce the number of people who can be in shops and service offices at the same time. The restrictions will take effect on Saturday.

"The spread of the virus in Estonia remains high, despite the restrictions imposed so far. Also, more and more people with COVID-19 need hospital treatment and the number of deaths caused by it has increased. The increased burden on the healthcare system due to the coronavirus is already significantly affecting the availability of our medical care for other health concerns," Ratas said.

"As the virus is also widespread in Estonia in public places, from where it is carried home and to families, the government had to further limit crowded leisure opportunities. After all, reports of those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus, which have become almost daily, are not just statistics. These are Estonian people, all of whom are our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, our next of kin and loved ones. We have a duty to do everything in our power to protect them and to curb and control the spread of this virus, which has serious consequences," he added.

Up to 50 percent occupancy in stores' sales halls and public areas and in the service provider's service halls must be maintained. The number of people in the sales halls of a store and in the public premises of a trade company and in the service halls of a service provider at the same time may not exceed the maximum occupancy of 50 percent. Among other things, people must follow the 2+2 rule, meaning up to two people can move together and must keep a distance of two meters from the others.

Restrictions will be imposed on staying in catering establishments and entertainment venues and venues for public events, meaning the establishments and venues must close their doors to visitors from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Catering establishments, entertainment venues and public event venues where there is no fixed seating for participants must close their doors to guests from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. In catering establishments, it will still be allowed to sell food to customers for takeaway or to provide a courier and delivery service for the purchase of food. Private parties are not allowed in any of these places. The requirements for public events and sports and movement events will also be harmonized.

The number of coronavirus patients undergoing treatment in hospital as on Thursday morning was 218, and 12 of the patients were on mechanical ventilation. As of November 30, bed occupancy was already critically high in three hospitals -- East-Viru Central Hospital, West-Tallinn Central Hospital and Narva Hospital. The number of patients over the age of 60 is also constantly growing.

The average age of hospitalized people is 68.5 years, the share of people aged 60 and older in hospitals is 73.3 percent. There has also been an increase in the number of infected people in care home outbreaks in the care system of East-Viru County, for example, as of Dec. 2, there are 15 clients in a Kohtla-Jarve care home who are more likely to need hospital treatment. In addition, the average length of hospital stay has increased at the expense of patients in more severe condition.