On 12 March 2020 Estonian government declared an emergency situation due to the pandemic spread of the coronavirus in the world and the likely further spread of the virus within Estonia. Unless decreed otherwise by the government, the emergency situation remains in force until 1 May 2020.
The changes in the normal routine affect, among other things, schools, cultural activities, and cruises. No public events are allowed.
“The absolute priority of the government is the protection of the health of the Estonian people in the current situation,” stressed Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. “The state of emergency is necessary to combat the spread of the coronavirus in Estonia in the most efficient manner. The state must be able to provide its citizens with clear and, if necessary, mandatory instructions to help limit the spread of the virus.”
The prime minister added that the actions of the state alone are no longer enough to overcome the crisis. “We have come to the point where every person must contribute to the protection of public health. I understand the inconvenience the state of emergency imposes on all of us, but this is not just about protecting the health of people, but also about saving lives.”
Jüri Ratas added that since the spread of the virus is a complex phenomenon that affects many different areas in Estonia, dealing with it requires extraordinary measures. “In addition to public health, it is vitally important to ensure the efficient and prompt resolution of the economic problems related to the spread of the virus,” said the prime minister.
“The emergency caused by the spread of the virus can no longer be resolved without the implementation of the command organisation provided in the Emergency Act,” he added.
The proposal to declare a state of emergency was made by a government committee headed by the prime minister. The government committee will meet for a new sitting on Friday, 13 March.
The state of emergency concerns the following:
All public gatherings are prohibited.
Studies in educational establishments
As of Monday, 16 March, schools are required to suspend regular classroom studies and switch over to remote and home studying.
Tomorrow, on 13 March, all primary, basic, secondary, and vocational schools as well as higher education establishments and universities are required to prepare an in-house information day to hand out instructions and materials for the subsequent organisation of the studies.
Universities and research institutions will continue their research and development activities.
The studies in schools for students with special educational needs are dealt with separately.
The decisions on whether to close kindergartens and childcare establishments and how to organise their work will be made by the local governments or other operators of kindergartens.
As of Monday, 16 March, hobby education must be suspended.
This organisation of the educational activities will remain valid until the situation changes. The necessity of the measures will be assessed every two weeks.
The border and the international cruise ship traffic
Sanitary inspections will be employed at border crossing points to detect the symptoms of the coronavirus in people.
People will also need to start filling in forms upon entering the country in order to identify the origin of their stay.
Sanitary inspections will also be employed in airports and ports. The requirement to fill in forms will be introduced similarly to the land border crossing points.
The sale of cruise trips on the Tallinn–Stockholm–Tallinn line must be suspended.
The measures to limit the spread of the virus will be developed and implemented in cooperation with the shipping company.
Each morning, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will review the high and medium risk areas of the world.
As at 12 March, the countries are: China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, certain departments of France, the federal states of Germany, the state of Tyrol in Austria, Japan, Singapore, and Spain (Madrid, Catalonia, and the Basque Country). Estonian residents and foreign citizens arriving from these countries must remain in quarantine for two weeks.
Libraries will remain open only to a limited extent.
Museums and cinemas will be closed to visitors until 1 May. All performances, concerts, and conferences are prohibited.
All sports competitions are prohibited until 1 May.
Social welfare institutions, hospitals, and detention facilities will be subject to a visiting ban.