As of April 4, the maximum permitted number of clients in pharmacies, post-offices, service premises, etc. must be limited in order to ensure the compliance with the 2-by-2 rule. Will the businesses need to limit the number of people entering?
Yes, businesses, pharmacists, postal officials, etc. must ensure that there are only so many people at the same time in the store, pharmacy, post office or other service premises (e.g. in the bank, the telecommunication company office) that would allow for at least 2-metre distance between clients, and no more than 2 people are allowed to be together – better if people were alone. Calculations need to be made on how many people can be allowed on premises at any one time, if necessary, limiting the access, so not too many people would enter at the same time in the store, pharmacy, post office or service hall. Therefore, the access must be monitored at the entrance.
It is equally important that there will be no crowds gathering at the entrances of shopping or service premises. If there is a queue, people would need to keep at least 2-metre distance. Failure to comply may lead to a fine of EUR 2000. All businesses, pharmacists, postal officials, etc. must also ensure the availability of disinfectants in the stores, pharmacies, post offices and service premises (banks, telecommunications offices). The businesses must make the disinfectant available where they are most needed. Clients must be clearly informed about the location of the disinfectants. If there is no such information, the clients may not enter the store, pharmacy, post office, etc. These requirements are valid until the person in charge of the emergency situation amends the order, the necessity of the order will be evaluated at the latest every two weeks.
What kinds of restrictions have been imposed on shopping centres, eateries, bars and entertainment establishments?
On March 27, shopping centres were closed with the order of the person in charge of the emergency situation.
Establishments that remained open in shopping centres:
points of sale of telecommunications companies,
stores where technical aids and medical devices are sold or rented on the basis of technical aid card or medical device card.
The eateries in shopping centres may only sell food for takeaway.
Persons going to the stores must adhere to the 2+2 rule:
shopping should be preferably done alone or with one other person,
keeping at least a 2 metre distance from other customers.
The stores must put disinfectants to entrances and exits. According to § 21(3) of the Trading Act, state supervision over compliance with the requirements for the place of business of a trader is exercised by the rural municipality or city government within its administrative territory.
Eateries, bars and other entertainment establishments must be closed to customers at 22:00. After this hour, selling food is only allowed for take-away and delivery.
Other entertainment establishments (e.g. bowling and pool halls, hookah cafes and adult entertainment clubs) are closed.
The order in force from April 4 obliges the traders to calculate, based on the area size of their sales or service halls, how many customers can be in their store simultaneously and still follow the 2+2 rule.
Stores, post offices, pharmacies and service providers have to guarantee that the people waiting behind their doors also adhere to the 2+2 rule and not form lines where people stand closer together.
Will hairdressers and massage salons have to close?
As of March 29, all services of hairdressing and massage salons have been suspended on Saaremaa and Muhumaa Islands.
Elsewhere the following applies:
If a hairdresser, massage or beauty parlour is located at the shopping centre, it will have to close.
If these salons are in a separate location, the work may continue, provided that very close attention is paid to hygiene, protecting both the customers and the staff.
What is the main purpose of restrictions imposed on people’s movement, and on shopping centres, shops, catering establishments?
In public places and indoors (except at home) at least 2-metre distance should be maintained from other people. Public places include playgrounds, open-air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, trekking and hiking trails, etc.
there may be up to two people in a public place together. This restriction does not apply to families, and to people performing public tasks.
The only stores to remain open in shopping centres are food stores, pharmacies, telecommunications offices, bank offices, parcel delivery machines, and stores selling or renting medical devices or appliances for medical devices.
Places serving food in shopping centres are allowed to sell only take-out food (except in cases when these establishments can be accessed directly from the street or parking area).
At all entrances and exits of open stores and services the availability of disinfectants must be ensured. Businesses must place them in locations where they are most needed. Clients must be clearly informed about the location of the disinfectants. If there is no such information, the clients may not enter the store, pharmacy, post-office, etc.
catering establishments and bars should not be open later than 22:00, (except for selling take-out food and offering food deliveries).
All entertainment and leisure establishments will remain closed.
Compliance with emergency measures is an obligation of each and every person. This is the only way we can protect ourselves, our family members, and the most vulnerable part of the Estonian population from coronavirus: the elderly and people with chronic diseases.
If you need further information, please visit: kriis.ee or call 1247.
Are there exceptions to this requirement that no more than two people can move together?
How is working going to be possible for people like, for instance, builders, communication cable installers and maintenance workers for mobile communication towers, pipe installers and others whose work requires engaging more than two people at a time?
The purpose of the restrictions is to protect the people’s health and they are implemented if it is possible to do it sensibly. For instance, maintenance workers for communications systems, cable and pipe installers, builders etc whose work requires the presence of more people in a public place can still apply all the necessary rules for organizing their work and safety and still do their job. There is also an exception in place for fulfilling public tasks. It should still be kept in mind that disinfectants must be used at the work place and people who have come from foreign countries need to stay home for two weeks and monitor their health. Both parties must agree to the change in work conditions.
Those working in an office environment should take into account that the recommended distance from others in an open office is no less than 2 meters, continued airing and regular cleaning are important, the sick, those who have come into contact with possibly infected people, and risk groups should be sent home if possible etc. The order of the person in charge of the emergency situation states that it is forbidden for more than two people to be and move together in a public place, unless it is not possible to feasibly guarantee this: https://www.valitsus.ee/sites/default/files/pm2045k_1.pdf.
How should a manufacturing company restructure their work if the nature of the work demands that people will need to be closer to each other than 2m, for example when assembling a product which is handed over to the person next to them? Is this allowed?
Yes, if the employees comply with the hygiene requirements, no one has symptoms of disease, and if disinfectants and protective equipment are available (according to production specifications, e.g. gloves, etc.). The order of the person in charge of the emergency situation says that the derogation from the 2-by-2 rule (no more than 2 persons together, and 2-metres distance from other people) is permitted, if no other reasonable arrangements can be made. It is important to air and clean the facilities regularly.
What happens to big companies – will their activities be suspended as according to the order of the person in charge of the emergency situation that went into force in March 25, 2020, people cannot be less than 2 meters apart indoors (except at home)?
Big companies will continue their work in a regular manner, following the recommendations of the Health Board and preferably in a way that keeps a 2-meter distance between workers.
The supplementary measures of the emergency situation apply to keeping a distance between people in public spaces (outdoor playgrounds and sports grounds, beaches, promenades, recreational and hiking paths and indoors) where at least 2 meters of distance to other people must be maintained, except at home and in cases where it is not possible to feasibly guarantee this.
What is a shopping centre?
The general restrictions to movement apply to shopping centres, the definition of which should be based on what its general meaning is considered to be, or — a shopping centre is a building or buildings that gather together several (three and more) stores or service providers, that can be entered through a common entrance and a public space. A store is a point of sale that is defined by the Trading Act. A shopping centre’s own designation as such is also taken into account.
The presence of several trading establishments encourages people to spend time in the centres, which creates opportunities for the virus to spread.
In what cases may a store that is not a grocery store be open in a shopping centre?
The requirement to close stores applies to shopping centres with at least three stores or service points. A store/service point in a shopping centre may remain open if it has a separate entry from the street or if it is possible to enter it without going through public places, for example directly from the parking lot. The shopping centre catering facilities that can be entered from the street may also remain open.
Example 1. Yes, if the shopping centre closes the entire second floor, and there is only one store on the ground floor – then it is a store with a separate entrance and this store may remain open.
Example 2. If a store in the shopping centre is separated from the surrounding area with a temporary wall so that the store can be accessed directly from the front door of the shopping centre, it becomes a store with a separate entrance, and may remain open.
Restrictions listed in the order do not apply to:
stores selling or renting technical aids and medical devices on the basis of the relevant card,
providers of telecommunication services,
catering facilities selling only take-out food.
The objective is to limit the gathering of many people as this enables the spread of the virus.
Can restaurants, bars, and cafes remain open which are located outside shopping centres?
Yes, restaurants, bars and cafes can remain open until 22:00, i.e. you can eat and drink in cafes and restaurants which are located outside the shopping centres until 22:00. After 22:00, restaurants, bars and cafés are allowed to sell take-away food and offer food deliveries. Restaurants, bars and cafes or any catering facilities inside shopping centres which are accessible from the street can also remain open until 22:00, same as restaurants and bars outside shopping centres.
Will the stores outside shopping centres remain open?
Yes. Separate stores, such as construction stores or garden centres, etc. may remain open. This also applies to stores which have a separate access. Additional restrictions have been added for Saaremaa and Muhumaa Islands, please see: https://www.valitsus.ee/et/uudised/eriteade-saaremaa-ja-muhumaa-eriolukorra-taiendused
Will the catering establishments in shopping centres be open to the general public as usual? Will it be possible to sit down and eat there?
No, the catering establishments in shopping centres can remain open only for the sale of food as take-away. On-site food consumption is not allowed. Restaurants, bars and cafes, or catering establishments which are located at the shopping centre but have access from the street, can be open until 22:00, same as restaurants, bars and cafes outside shopping centres.
Can other goods also still be sold in a grocery store, e.g. clothes, cosmetics, kitchen utensils, detergents?
Yes, the sale of all goods can continue. The goal of closing shopping centres is not to limit the choice of goods but to avoid many people congregating.
How can I get to a shopping centre pharmacy if the pharmacy is several floors up?
The public areas of shopping centres are kept open for going to the grocery store, pharmacy or other places that are open.
Is food delivery possible from restaurants after 22:00 when people can no longer go to the restaurants?
Both customers and delivery couriers can get food as take-away after 22:00.
Can pizza restaurants continue work, including pizza delivery service?
Pizza restaurants are also catering facilities and the same rules apply – in shopping centres it is only allowed to buy pizza as take-away. Restaurants located outside shopping centres may remain open until 22:00, and after 22:00 only take-aways and food deliveries are allowed.
How has the work of cafes been regulated when they only offer coffee and buns? Or if they only offer coffee?
Cafes are regulated the same way as all other catering establishments – in shopping centres only take-away is allowed, cafes outside the shopping centres may remain open until 22:00, after that only take-away is allowed, either for customers or food delivery couriers.
If one of the doors of a store opens to a shopping centre and the other to the street, can the store remain open to offer, for instance, courier services?
A store inside a shopping centre can remain open if there is a separate entrance to the store from the street or the parking lot and it is not necessary to go through public spaces to enter the store. The door that opens to the shopping centre must remain closed in this case.
Can specialty stores (e.g. cheese store) that are located and selling food in a shopping centre stay open?
A store or a counter that sells foodstuffs qualifies as a grocery store, regardless of the size of the selling area. For instance, Biomarket, Juustukuningad, Matsimoka etc. can stay open in shopping centres.
What is the status of shopping centre eateries that have a separate entrance from the street (parking lot)? Is it still an eatery in a shopping centre or is this an eatery outside a shopping centre?
The same principle applies to eateries as applies to stores. If an eatery has an entrance from the street that is separate from the entrance of the shopping centre or it is possible to enter it without going through a public space (e.g. from a parking lot), then it is an eatery that is separate from the shopping centre and can stay open until 22 to serve food on site. After 22, the eatery can only stay open for takeaway. It must also be guaranteed that the customers are at least 2 meters away from each other when consuming their food and beverages on site.
Can pet stores stay open in shopping centres?
A pet store in a shopping centre can stay open if it is possible to enter it through a separate entrance from the street or the parking lot. If there are animals in need of care at the store, the owners and workers may go there. Pet food store is still a pet store and does not go under grocery stores regardless of whether it sells only crackers and pâté or animals as well. Pet owners should find a store with a separate entrance from the street or order their pet’s food from an e-store. Pet stores located separately may remain open.
Can an alcohol store that has been registered as a catering establishment stay open in a shopping centre? Regardless of the fact that it does not have a separate entrance?
Alcohol store is a grocery store in the sense of the law and can stay open.
Can a shopping centre close the customer restrooms?
It cannot. The public places of a shopping centre must remain open if they are necessary for going to:
the grocery store
the pharmacy or
other places covered by the exception.
The Health Board recommends leaving the restrooms open as well.
It is recommended to clean and disinfect the restrooms more frequently. If possible, put up hand washing instructions.
Please read “Recommendations for efficient cleaning and disinfecting” on the web page of the Health Board https://www.terviseamet.ee/sites/default/files/Nakkushaigused/Juhendid/COVID-19/soovitused_tohusaks_puhastamiseks_ja_desinfitseerimiseks_taiendatud_18.03.2020.pdf
If the centre has only one store (e.g. a flower store) in addition to a grocery store, can that stay open?
Yes, if the centre has fewer than three stores/service points, then it can stay open.
If a shopping centre builds a partition wall to separate the stores, can they remain open?
If a shopping centre builds a partition wall that allows entering the store/service provider only from the street outside, this trading enterprise can remain open.
What kind of restrictions apply to tire changing/car repair shops?
There are currently no plans to restrict the work of tire changers and car repair shops. The same requirements that apply to other companies still apply to them as well. The companies must guarantee the adequate use of personal protective equipment and disinfectants, adequate cleanliness and airing between clients. The companies must also monitor that neither the customers nor the customer service people are symptomatic, the number of people in the service rooms must be lowered to a minimum and adequate spacing must be guaranteed for the customers. The Road Administration also announced that there is no need to rush with changing the tires, as volatile weather conditions are expected for April and the air temperature might drop below zero. The transition period for switching to summer tires is flexible in Estonia and the police will certainly not fine anybody for using studded tires in April.
What will happen to construction and gardening stores, or clothing stores, bookstores and furniture stores that are not in shopping centres?
Stores that are outside of shopping centres will remain open. Based on the area size of their sales or service halls, the traders must calculate how many customers can there be in their store simultaneously and still follow the 2+2 rule.
A store inside a shopping centre can remain open
if there is a separate entrance to the store from the street or the parking lot and
it is not necessary to go through public spaces to enter the store.
Can the beauty treatment establishments outside shopping centres remain open? How can the service provider observe the 2-metre distance rule?
The beauty treatment establishments outside shopping centres can remain open if they observe the recommendations of the Health Board:
use personal protective equipment and antiseptics,
clean and air the room after each client,
send people with symptoms home or to a doctor,
limit the number of people in the premises
ensure customer separation.
Please note that as of March 29, all beauty and massage salons have been closed on Saaremaa and Muhumaa Islands.
How will the businesses that need to close be communicated with? For instance, how will a produce seller at the Nõmme market find out that from Friday she cannot open her stall anymore, if this ban extends to her?
Communication with businesses goes through professional associations – Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Estonian Traders Association, Estonian Associations of SMEs etc. Additionally, notification takes place in the media. The owner of the market must notify the renters of the selling spaces in the market.
Who is supervising the partial closures of shopping centres?
This state supervision is exercised by the rural municipality or city government who monitors within its administrative territory that a trader’s place of business is in compliance with the imposed requirements.
See more from § 21(3) of the Trading Act.
Based on the area size of their sales or service halls, the traders must calculate how many customers can there be in their store simultaneously and still follow the 2+2 rule. The Police and Border Guard Board monitors whether the 2+2 restriction is being followed.
How are the compliance with restrictions being supervised?
We are hoping that people understand the need to behave responsibly in order to hinder the spread of the disease from person to person. Policemen along with their partners are patrolling in public places and turn people’s attention to the rules in force if they notice breaches. Information on the requirements at: www.kriis.ee
Where to notify about breaches of restrictions?
If someone notices that the restrictions are being breached, they should notify either
the local municipality,
the local police directly,
the municipal police,
a security company, or
The police’s task is mainly to call people to order and to refer to the rules currently in place. If calling to order is not sufficient, it is possible to apply a penalty payment of €2000 to a private person. A penalty payment of €9600 can be applied to a company if it does not adhere to the rules set by the person in charge of the emergency situation.
What happens if a store, office or person does not comply with the imposed restrictions?
If someone notices that the restrictions are being breached, they should notify either
the local municipality,
the local police directly,
the municipal police,
a security company or
It is mainly the task of the police to call people to order and refer to the rules in place. If calling to order is not sufficient, it is possible to apply a penalty payment of €2000. A penalty payment of €9600 can be applied to a company if it does not adhere to the rules set by the person in charge of the emergency situation.
How long will the rules regarding shopping centres and keeping a distance be in force?
The measures are reviewed at maximum every two weeks to assess their impact on limiting the spread of the disease.
What happens to the markets? Do they have to be closed or will they remain open?
The restrictions to freedom of movement do not extend to markets.
The sellers must follow the requirements of the Health Board and ensure adequate use of personal protective equipment and adequate cleaning. It must also be monitored that neither the sellers no the customers would be symptomatic.
The customers must keep a 2-metre distance from each other.
If the indoor market sells food products, it can remain open, but on the condition that the sellers ensure that the visitors have disinfectants available and that all surfaces are sufficiently cleaned. A general restriction is in place, according to which people must keep a distance of at least 2 meters between each other. If clothes are also being sold at the indoor market, it meets the description of a shopping centre (many sellers of different types of goods), and must be closed.
How should a store be able to guarantee that people follow the rule of keeping 2 metres between each other? There is a threat in the government decision that a store will be closed if it doesn’t adhere to the requirement.
We hope that people understand the need to behave in a responsible manner to keep the virus from spreading from person to person. A store owner, for example, can monitor the number of people entering the store and limit it, if necessary. Also, they can remind their customers of the requirements to keep a distance.
Do any opening restrictions or sales restrictions apply to filling stations?
The shop part of a filling station can remain open, the cafe part needs to be closed for onsite consumption at 22, only takeaway and deliveries are allowed.
Are indoor market halls also subject to the restrictions on shopping centres? If so, what kinds of restrictions have to be taken into account?
If the indoor market sells food products, it can remain open, but on the condition that the sellers ensure that the visitors have disinfectants available and that all surfaces are sufficiently cleaned. A general restriction is in place, according to which people must keep a distance of at least 2 meters between each other. If clothes are also being sold at the indoor market, it meets the description of a shopping centre (many sellers of different types of goods), and must be closed.
How is the work of post-offices organised?
In order to reduce contacts between people in post offices, the Estonian Postal Service is requesting the clients to visit the post offices only when it is essential, if possible, to use self-service options (e-store, e-service, self-service parcel machine).
Due to the emergency situation, the number of customers allowed to enter the client service offices at the same time in the post-offices remaining open, is limited, in order to reduce the risk of the virus to the customers and staff.
As of March 27, the following post-offices located in shopping centres will be closed: Arsenali (Tallinn), Finesti (Tallinn), Järvakandi, Järve Centre (Tallinn), Kristiine Centre (Tallinn), Kvartali Centre (Tartu), Laagri, Lasnamäe (Tallinn), Luha (Võru), Mustamäe (Tallinn), Mustika (Tallinn), Narva Tempo Centre, Pirita (Tallinn), Pähklimäe (Narva), Raadi (Tartu), Rae (Tallinn), Sauga, Tabasalu, Viimsi.
All other post offices located in shopping centres will remain open as they have a separate entrance which does not open into the shopping centre, or because there is no other post office in the same city. All post offices which are located in separate buildings will remain open.
The following 16 local post offices will remain open which are located in small shopping centres and the delivery of the consignment cannot be arranged to another post office within the same city: Kambja post office; Elva post office; Lihula post office; Mustla post office; Sindi post office; Võhma post office; Kehra post office; Keila post office; Maardu post office; Paldiski post office; Jõhvi post office; Kohtla-Järve post office Iidla post office; Tapa post office, Kunda post office and Kohila post office
More information available on Omniva website. https://www.omniva.ee/koroonaviirus
Are there more detailed requirements for restaurants on how goods should be handed over to customers? Is there a certain set number of people who can, for instance, work in a restaurant kitchen?
General requirements for employers have to be followed –to ensure the sufficient cleaning of surfaces, to monitor the health of the employees, to provide for regular hand washing or disinfecting, and work should be organised so as to minimize contact between the employees. More exact guildelines on the web page of the Food and Veterinary Office
How can I protect my employees from the infection?
Monitor the health of your staff. Send home any staff who have the symptoms listed above and give them instructions to self-isolate for 14 days.
Any member of staff who has come into contact with an infected person must monitor their own health, and if symptoms appear, they should remain at home for 14 days and follow the self-isolation guidelines.
Keep a minimum of two-metre distance from all customers.
Arrange for your staff a possibility to wash their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, at least once every two hours.
If it is not possible to wash hands, they should disinfect their hands with antiseptic handwash with a minimum 70% ethanol content, if possible. Hands that are visibly dirty must certainly be washed.
Recommend that staff who come into contact with customers to wear rubber gloves as well as textile gloves. Hands should be disinfected before gloves are put on and after they are taken off. When taking gloves off, pinch the material of the other glove from the section of the glove between the palm and the wrist; pull the glove off so that it turns inside out, with the contaminated side inside. Please note that single-use gloves should not be washed or disinfected and should be removed on leaving the cash register and disposed into a bag which can be closed.
When using masks, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maximum usage time.
Work garments, including textile gloves, should be washed after every shift, at the highest temperature allowed for the material. Work shoes should also be cleaned after every shift.
Minimise contact with the customers for these members of the staff who belong to risk groups, particularly older employees or those with chronic illnesses or immune-compromised persons.
If possible, arrange to work in one shift, or organise the handing over of the shift so that the employees of different shifts would not mingle.
Guidelines and instructions: https://www.terviseamet.ee/et/COVID-19-trukised https://vet.agri.ee/et/uudised/soovitused-toidukaitlejatele-seoses-koroonaviirusega
How can service providers protect their employees and customers?
Employees must follow the usual measures for the prevention of respiratory infections:
When sneezing or coughing cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or sneeze/ cough into your sleeve. The tissue should be thrown into a bin.
Clean hands with soap and water or a hand-sanitizer containing alcohol (especially after sneezing or coughing). In businesses, disinfectants must be available for both customers and employees.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Disease can spread through unwashed hands.
How do prevent the spread of the coronavirus in shopping centres, stores, and catering establishments?
It is necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through personal contact and goods in stores and catering establishments, which is why
only grocery stores, pharmacies, points of sale of telecommunications companies, bank offices, parcel terminals, and stores that sell or rent technical aids and medical devices are open in shopping centres;
the 2+2 rule must be followed: it is permitted to move around either alone or with one other person, and a 2-metre distance has to be kept from others;
the catering establishments are only allowed to sell food for takeaway and delivery, and cafes, restaurants and bars must be closed by 22:00 at the latest;
there have to be disinfectants available at the entrances and exits of the store;
entertainment establishments (e.g. bowling and pool halls, hookahcafes and adult entertainment clubs) are closed.
In stores and catering establishments it is recommended to:
avoid physical contact when handing over receipts and cash;
sell ready-made foods (e.g. pastries, sausages, candy, cookies, nuts or salad) only pre-packaged and, if possible, also pre-package the loose ready-made food sold at self-service deli counters. Ready-made food must be packaged in a separate room or 2 metres away from where customers are moving around. Single use packaging (e.g. coffee cups) cannot be freely available to customers;
follow the regular food-handling rules and ensure that all employees that handle the food have passed the training on food-handling;
not organize product presentations, including food tastings;
clean and disinfect more often than usual all the surfaces that are frequently touched and come into contact with food;
ensure that all persons who are providing services on site (e.g. people who are installing or repairing equipment) have the possibility to wash and disinfect their hands;
clean and air the premises according to the regular schedule. The use of cleaning products and the cleaning schedule have to be based on the user instructions of the cleaning product;
store the waste (including personal protective equipment) that might be contaminated with the virus separately from other waste and keep it in a closed bag. In 72 hours it can be thrown in the municipal waste container.
See the instructions.
How do we prevent the spread of COVID-19 in food service companies?
Arrange your tables so that the seats are at least 2 metres apart from each other.
Be certain to clean, and if possible disinfect, tables and chairs after every time they have been used. It is recommended not to use tablecloths. If you do use them, they should be changed after each time the table is used.
Store your cutlery so that the parts that come into contact with food avoid any contact with possible carriers of the virus.
Do not offer buffet-type service.
Encourage takeaway service and home delivery service if that is possible.
Customers need to maintain at least 2-metres of distance from each other.
Give your clients places where they can disinfect and wash their hands.
Put your disinfectants in places where clients will see them as they pass.
Put illustrated instructions at all the places for disinfecting and washing.
How do we prevent the spread of COVID-19 in shops?
Avoid meeting in shopping centres.
If possible record a message and play it over your public announcement systems telling people to keep a distance of at least 2 metres from each other, including in queues for the tills, and to touch things as little as possible in shops.
Clean self-service points and tills, and shopping trolleys and baskets, weighing scales and so on more frequently than you normally would. Clean self-service points and tills with touch-screens every time they are used if possible.
If you can offer online shopping, encourage people to use it.
Organise your tills so that your clients can keep at least 2 metres apart from each other and from the client service staff.
When should I wash my hands?
You should wash your hands:
before starting work;
before handling hot or cooked food;
after handling or cooking hot food;
after handling waste;
after cleaning up;
after using the toilet;
after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing;
after eating, drinking or smoking;
after handling cash.
Can 80% vodka be used in a spray bottle for disinfecting hands?
No. In addition to alcohol there are other components that make the disinfectant effective, either slowing down the evaporation of the product from the surface or improving the surface wetting properties. This achieves the one minute contact time necessary for the antiviral effect. Ethanol alone might not kill the bacteria or the virus because it evaporates too quickly. Using ethanol as a disinfectant might reduce the activeness of the infectious agent but might also create an ethanol-resistant infection agent as a result. In sum it can be said that unregistered and non-verified disinfectants might not have actual disinfecting properties and thus might not protect their user.
Are stores allowed to take inventory, make repairs or assemble online orders? It would not be the shopping centre operator entering the store but the tenant – to keep the e-commerce going.
Store owners and employees are allowed to go into the stores in shopping centres, which means that they can take inventory, assemble orders placed in the web store, etc.
Is street vending allowed? If it is, what kinds of restrictions should be taken into account?
Street vending is allowed but you have to follow the Health Board guidelines – all surfaces have to be sufficiently cleaned; you have to make sure that neither customers nor customer service personnel are symptomatic; the number of people in the shop/standing at the counter has to be kept to a minimum; and customers must be guaranteed enough space so that it would be possible to follow the 2 meter distance requirement.
Can stores organize online store campaigns in the current situation? After all, a person comes into contact with other people when going to pick up the package?
Online stores are allowed to organize campaigns, as buying from an online store and going to pick up the package from a package terminal is considerably safer than visiting a shopping centre. The fact that most of the package terminals are outside also speaks in their favour — there are few people there and the risk of infection is smaller. For instance, Omniva regularly cleans the touch screens of their package terminals. But it is also possible to use package terminals in a way that allows a person not to come into any physical contact with surfaces in common use:
it is possible to use the screen of the package terminal with gloves and
it is possible to pay for goods with a contactless payment at all package terminals.
Quite often it is also possible to opt for a contact-free home delivery when buying goods from an online store.
A sick person certainly should not go to pick up their package. If necessary, it is possible to extend the holding deadline of a package until the person has healed. Additionally, the 2+2 rule must be followed: up to 2 people may move together in a public space and at least a 2 metre distance must be kept with other people.
Should the payments be made by card only during the pandemic, in order to avoid virus transmission with cash?
If possible, it has been recommended to avoid using cash. Coronavirus can survive on contaminated metal, plastic and stainless-steel surfaces for up to 72 hours, on porous materials such as paper and cardboard for up to 24 hours. If you need to use cash, you should pay close attention to hygiene and wash your hands.
We recommend making payments:
preferably contactless payment (temporary limit is EUR 50) or
bank card, as usual.
A person with symptoms of illness just walked in. Can a company in the service sector even implement restrictions? Can workers refuse to serve this person? What to do if they refuse to leave?
Companies are obligated to see to it that neither employees nor clients have symptoms of illness. If a person refuses to leave, call security or the police.
What should the business operator do if they have to guarantee the availability of disinfectants at store but who have not been able to purchase the disinfectants?
The operator should first try to find a manufacturer of disinfectants or a distributor for the purchase of disinfectants. In Estonia, the producers of disinfectants are Desintech OÜ, Baltiachemi OÜ, Goodpoint Chemicals OÜ. Punch Drinks OÜ, the producer of alcohol products has started to produce disinfectants. If no other solution has been found, the Health Board advises to approach the Government working group in charge of the procurement of personal protection equipment and disinfectants. The person in charge of this working group is the Minister of Public Administration, Mr Jaak Aab.
Can tattoo artists continue their work?
Not on the islands of Saaremaa and Muhumaa. On mainland, it is allowed. However, it is allowed only if before each new client, the use of sufficient personal protective equipment and antiseptics is guaranteed, rooms should be properly cleaned and aired out. Also, the company must see to it that neither client service representatives nor clients have any symptoms of illness. The number of people in the service rooms should be taken to a minimum, and the sufficient distancing of clients must be guaranteed.
Are sales representatives allowed to travel to different stores (including food stores) where they come into contact with employees and shoppers? They travel everywhere and can spread the virus.
If a sales representative is unable to work remotely, or limit their business travel in the current situation, then when performing their task they must observe all the hygiene rules: use personal protective equipment and disinfectants, maintain a 2 m distance from the employees and the clients. If the sales representative develops any symptoms of the disease, they must remain at home.
Who can I inform if I see that a store is not following the requirements?
According to the law, the national supervision over whether the requirements to a trader’s place of operations are being adhered to is carried out by the government of a city or a rural municipality. If a store is not following the requirements in force during the emergency situation, you may inform the local municipality, the municipal police or the police.
Will educational institutions resume full work on school premises by May 15?
No, it is not likely that work at schools will resume on May 18.
When organising educational work, current restrictions on movement and gathering must be respected by the educational institutions.
In general education schools, the Ministry of Education and Research recommends until the beginning of the summer break to:
monitor the progress of students
offer guidance on an individual bases or small groups, if necessary.
organise progress reviews and training days.
What should the food processing companies bear in mind regarding the coronavirus?
In order to prevent the coronavirus:
Avoid close contacts.
Follow safe food management practices
Clean and disinfect surfaces,
Ensure proper hygiene and
Comply with normal cleaning and ventilation requirements.
To protect your employees, monitor their health status.
If possible, recommend that employees keep at least 2 metres distance from each other.
Minimise the exposure of employees belonging to risk groups to other employees.
In case of risk of infection, clean and disinfect the company premises to prevent the spread of the disease among employees.
Create plenty of opportunities for employees to disinfect and wash their hands.
Hands should be washed with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and at least every 2 hours.
Hands should be washed and sanitised before and after the use of rubber gloves.
Disinfectants must be in a visible place and easily accessible for the employees.
Wash the working clothes (including textile gloves) after each shift, if possible
Wash the clothes at the highest temperature allowed for the fabric.
Clean the footwear after each shift.
Use disposable working clothes, if possible.
More information can be found on the website of the Veterinary and Food Board. https://vet.agri.ee/et/ennetustoo/covid-19/juhised-toidukaitlejatele-seoses-koroonaviirusega/juhised-toidutootjatele-seoses
How is veterinary supervision carried out?
The Veterinary and Food Board has, as far as possible, postponed all planned supervision activities requiring on-the-spot checks.
Work continues as usual at meat proceeding plants and at border inspection points. Contactless monitoring is carried out more extensively than before (provision of documents, video and photo materials, e-platforms for food producers, etc.). For purposes of ongoing trade, certificates are issued by county veterinary centres.
Customers are contacted by phone and post, using electronic channels to protect both employees and customers. The exception is needs-based controls and response to risk notifications.
The Veterinary and Food Board requests all clients to use electronic channels as much as possible.
Data and applications can be submitted to the national alcohol register and to the commercial fishing register.
Applications for export certificates can be submitted to the client portal of the Ministry of Rural Affairs.
The Agency is ready to respond to emergency situations such as animal disease, food-borne outbreaks and animal abuse.
The Veterinary and Food Laboratory will continue carrying out laboratory tests on animal diseases and verifications on food compliance requirements.
this means that all the samples delivered to the laboratory will be analysed.
organ and blood samples taken by hunters, and samples taken by the animal keepers will be accepted and analysed for animal diseases.
The corona virus, its prevention, symptoms and how it spreads
How many people have been infected with the corona virus in Estonia, how are they distributed between counties and how many people have been hospitalized?
As of the morning of April 15th, 1400 people had been diagnosed with the corona virus in Estonia. 147 people have been hospitalised, 10 of whom are on ventilation. 35 persons have died. 117 people have been discharged. From January 31, altogether 33 967 COVID-19 test have been done.
Most of the cases are still in the age group 55-59 (11%), followed by 45-49, and 50-54 (10%). A corona map depicting information about Estonia can be found at https://www.terviseamet.ee/koroonakaart.
People who have been tested positive are always informed by telephone. You can check the result of the test on the Patient Portal https://www.digilugu.ee/.
The Health Board is currently stressing the importance of protecting elderly people in particular.
In more than 80 percent of cases, people suffer mildly from the virus. The group at risk of the disease is elderly people and those with chronic diseases, who may experience a more severe disease course.
The disease spreads as a droplet infection through close contact and can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours.
You can find more information on coronavirus at https://www.terviseamet.ee/en/covid19.
Where can you obtain direct information about the emergency situation caused by the coronavirus?
Questions related to the emergency situation caused by the coronavirus can be addressed to the Emergency Response Centre hotline 1247, open 24h, free of charge.
How to avoid contracting the coronavirus and what to do in case of suspected infection?
Wash your hands. Hands should be washed with soap under running water, alcohol-based hand disinfectants should be used if needed.
Avoid contact. Avoid contact (keep a distance of at least 2 metres) with people, who are coughing or sneezing. If you stand too close to a person with symptoms of the disease, you may contract the disease yourself.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands, it is possible that the virus will be transmitted to you as well.
If you have a fever, are coughing and experiencing difficulty breathing, seek help in a timely manner. Monitor your health and stay home. Call your general practitioner (GP). If you do not have access to a general practitioner, call the GP hotline at 1220.
If you have mild symptoms of respiratory disease: Carefully observe the regular hand hygiene guidelines and, if possible, stay home until you are well again.
Observe good respiratory hygiene. If you sneeze or cough, cover your nose and mouth with a single use tissue. Throw it into the bin immediately after, and then clean your hands. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (the inside of your elbow), but do not use your bare hand.
Covering your mouth and nose helps prevent spreading the virus. If you sneeze into a bare hand, you might transfer the contamination and viruses to others as well as to objects that you touch.
How did the outbreak begin?
The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is most likely of animal origin, but studies are still ongoing to confirm the source and transmission methods.
How does COVID-19 differ from influenza?
In addition to the spread of the coronavirus, this is also the flu season. Therefore it is very important to be able to distinguish between coronavirus (COVID-19) and influenza. Although there are still very many unknown factors regarding COVID-19, two main aspects of the disease can be compared.
Symptoms The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have listed the main disease symptoms:
Flu – fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, runny or blocked nose, fatigue, sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea.
Coronavirus – fever, cough, breathing difficulties.
The flu symptoms have a sudden onset. Most patients recover within less than two weeks. In some patients (e.g. in the USA during this season, 1% of patients) flu may cause serious complications, including pneumonia. The prevalence of flu is very similar every year.
COVID-19 symptoms have not been completely understood. It is also not yet known how serious these symptoms can be or how many people infected with COVID-19 virus have only very mild symptoms or none at all. Most cases of COVID-19 infection are not serious.
Virus spread Coronavirus is more infectious than influenza. Each person infected with the COVID-19 virus infects an average of 2.2 people. At the same time, every person infected with the influenza virus infects an average of 1.3 healthy people.
Morbidity In case of coronavirus or influenza infection, people aged over 60 with weakened immune system and/or chronic diseases are at the highest risk. Co-morbidity increases the disease risk. Influenza is much more dangerous for children, especially very young children who can fall severely ill. Children infected with coronavirus usually have mild symptoms or do not have any symptoms.
Influenza is particularly dangerous for pregnant women who can get severely ill. It is not known whether COVID-19 presents a serious risk to pregnant women.
Among COVID-19 patients, 83-98% develop fever, 76-82% dry cough and 11-44% fatigue or muscle pain. Less common COVID-19 symptoms are headache, throat pain, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 81% of COVID-19 cases were mild (including cases without symptoms), 14% moderate-to-severe and 5% critical. In critical cases, patients experienced respiratory failure, septic shock and multiple organ dysfunction or failure. There are indications that during the second week of the disease the condition may deteriorate and therefore people must closely monitor their condition and remain at home throughout the duration of the disease.
Mortality COVID-19 mortality varies from region to region and depends on age and other factors. According to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate in Hubei province of COVID-19 was 2.9%, in other Chinese provinces 0.4%. The most vulnerable were the elderly, the mortality rate among over 80s was 15%, aged 70-79 8%, aged 60-69 4%, aged 50-59 1%, aged 40-49 0.4%, aged 10-39 0.2%, and no deaths were observed among children younger than 9. Although COVID-19 mortality is not exactly known, most studies show that it is higher than the influenza mortality.
Treatment The mortality of influenza would be higher if there were no treatment and vaccination. For the treatment of influenza, there are several prescription medications that have a good impact if they are taken within one or two days of the onset of symptoms. There are also medicines that are given to prevent flu for people who have been in contact with the virus carrier. In addition, there are widely available vaccines against influenza that generate a certain level of immunity.
No specific treatment or any approved antiviral medicine (some are being tested) exists yet for COVID-19. Doctors can therefore recommend the usual measures: rest, take medicines to reduce pain and fever, and consume fluids to prevent dehydration. There is no vaccine against COVID-19 yet.
Prevention The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to prevent any flu-like viruses, including COVID-19, avoid contact with your face if hands are unwashed, avoid contacts with sick people, stay at home in the case of illness, and disinfect surfaces and objects you touch daily.
Seasonality In the case of influenza, a pattern is observed that the spread of the disease decreases in the spring and returns in the autumn when the weather gets colder. It is not known whether and how the weather affects the COVID-19 virus. Even if the spread of the COVID-19 virus declines in the spring, it may return in the autumn.
How serious is the disease COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus?
COVID-19 symptoms are non-specific and their severity can vary. The disease may not always produce symptoms, but it may also lead to severe pneumonia, which for those belonging to the risk groups in the worst case can also end in death.
The most common symptoms include :
dry cough (67,7%),
difficulty breathing (18,6%),
sore throat (13,9%),
muscle and joint pain (14,8%),
nausea and vomiting (5.0%),
congested nose (4,8%),
coughing blood (0,9%),
irritated conjunctiva (0.8%).
For most people who contract the coronavirus, the disease passes without complications and they get well.
Reminder – the risk group for this virus includes the elderly as well as people with chronic disease, who often experience the more severe forms of the disease.
What does this virus do to an organism – does it damage specific organs, for example, lungs?
COVID-19 symptoms are nonspecific and their severity can vary. The disease can run its course without symptoms of illness, but infection can also include severe pneumonia, and for people in risk groups, in worst case, the illness can end in death.
For most people infected with the coronavirus, the illness runs its course without complications and they get well. It is important to point out that the virus risk group includes the elderly and people with chronic diseases, who exhibit the severe forms of the disease more frequently.
What are the guidelines for monitoring my own health?
If you were in contact with a person infected with the coronavirus, monitor your health over the course of 14 days and if you develop a fever over 38°C, a cough or have difficulty breathing, call a doctor and notify them about the condition of your health.
What to do when I notice symptoms?
Discuss it with your family doctor. She will give recommendations to you, depending on the severity of the situation.
You do not have to call an ambulance anymore to give a corona virus sample. Do not go to the medical centre or the ER on your own.
Rest up and heal yourself according to the doctor’s recommendations.
Stay inside until the doctor says that the risk of infection is gone and follow all the rules for avoiding the risk of infection at home.
More exact instructions at https://www.koroonaviirus.ee.
What to do if you suspect you’ve been infected?
If you suspect that you have been infected with the COVID-19 virus, you should call your general practitioner (GP) first. If your GP cannot be reached or is unavailable, you can call the GP hotline at 1220. It is also advisable to try out the web-based assessment tool at Koroonatest.ee. After answering some simple questions, it will give you a guide to how to proceed in case you have a problem.
If you suspect infection, monitor your health over the course of 14 days. If symptoms arise (mainly coughing and fever), contact your GP or the GP hotline at 1220.
Infected people in a serious condition should call the ambulance. When calling the ambulance, the medical workers must be notified of either having been abroad and/or having had contact with a person infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Can the likelihood and risk of contracting COVID-19 be assessed online in Estonia?
Yes, as of 19 March, you can use the self-assessment environment Koroonatest.ee. By answering some simple questions, the tool will help you assess your risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus. By responding to the survey, the user of the environment will receive further recommendations on how to act in his/her situation.
The web-based solution was born on 13-15 March at a hackathon organised by Garage48 and Accelerate Estonia, which aimed to develop solutions that help to mitigate the situation created by the spread of coronavirus. One of the solutions was the development of an online assessment questionnaire, created by the startup Montonio Finance, which now cooperates with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health Board to run the environment.
Why do we need to take special care to protect elderly people and people with chronic diseases?
Coronavirus infection can be more severe in people over 60 years of age or in people with chronic conditions. Their body may be weaker due to a decline in the function of the immune system and the disease may turn out to be more severe if such a person is infected.
Examples of chronic diseases include diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, tumours, asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases, chronic kidney and liver diseases, and immunodeficiency.
Coronavirus spreads from person to person via droplets, mainly in close contact with a sick person. Given the weaker immunity of the elderly and people with chronic conditions, and the main way in which the virus is spread, it is essential to avoid contact with these groups of people as much as possible.
Furthermore, it is not advisable to take your healthy children to their grandparents, because if the children should fall ill, the grandparents are at high risk.
Are pregnant women a corona virus risk group?
According to current knowledge, pregnant women do not have a greater risk of getting infected with the corona virus than others and when they do get infected they do not suffer more severely. There is also no proof that the virus would go from the mother to her child before or during birth. Pregnant women should follow the same instructions as others, both to avoid getting infected and if they do get infected.
Does the corona virus spread through ventilation systems?
The corona virus does not spread though the ventilation system of an apartment building. Most infections happen through close contact by way of droplet infection when the droplets land on another person’s mucous membrane, i.e. in the nose, mouth or eyes. Infection can also happen from surfaces contaminated with the droplets. For instance, you can get infected by touching a door handle and then your face.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), currently there is not enough reliable evidence that the infection can spread through ventilation systems.
According to Hans Orru, the Associate Professor in Environmental Health at the University of Tartu, the amount of virus particles inhaled is also important. In order to get the necessary amount, there must be a close contact with a sick person or one must be in a small closed room with a sick person. An amount that could carry through the ventilation systems from the neighbours is not enough in a normal situation.
It is still always important to guarantee adequate air exchange in rooms to reduce the amount of virus particles in the rooms of both sick and healthy people. For this we recommend:
To air your living spaces regularly
In public spaces, to guarantee a good round-the-clock air exchange that would not allow the virus particles and contaminants to accumulate.
The corona virus is capable of attaching itself to aerosols but their amount in air decreases relatively quickly. According to a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, in three hours a sixth of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles remain.
If one of the spouses has been coughing since yesterday but does not have a fever, can the other spouse still go to work or do they have to stay at home now?
If possible, the spouse should remain at home for 14 days.
If an employee has given a positive coronavirus sample, does the employer need to notify all his colleagues of this or only those that have been in contact with the infected person? What measures need to be taken?
If an employee finds out that his coronavirus sample was positive, he needs to notify his employer of this immediately.
During the current emergency situation, the employer must send both infected people and people with a suspected infection home for quarantine.
For this, the employer will establish the employees that have come into contact with the infected colleague at the workplace within the past two weeks. They also need to stay home for 14 days and keep a close eye on their health. If a person develops a fever or a cough during this time, he needs to contact his family doctor.
Those employees who were not in direct contact with the infected person may continue their everyday work but should keep a closer eye on their health.
The employer must guarantee that in order to contain the spread of the virus at the work place
necessary protective equipment is used,
the rooms are aired and
the surfaces are cleaned diligently.
What happens if an employee of a commercial business has fallen ill? Should the store close?
If an employee has fallen ill outside working hours, they must stay home for 14 days and contact their family doctor. The doctor will refer them to testing, if necessary and issues the incapacity to work certificate. The employee may return to work after 14 days, provided that they have no fever, cough, rhinitis or other respiratory symptoms. When the employee has recovered and the doctor has terminated the incapacity to work certificate, the employee may return to work and the employer has no right to require the employee to carry out additional testing.
If the employee falls ill during the working hours, the employee must immediately go home, contact their family doctor and stay at home for 14 days. If the diagnosis comes back positive for COVID-19, the employer must be informed. The employer must then close the store for at least 48 hours and disinfect the store. In addition, it is important to determine who have been in close contact with the infected employee, they should also remain home for 14 days.
Detailed instructions are available here: https://www.terviseamet.ee/sites/default/files/Nakkushaigused/Juhendid/COVID-19/kaubandusettevotete_juhis_12.04.20-2.pdf.
How should an employee of a large industry, such as a factory, behave around a conveyor belt if he/she exhibits symptoms (cough, sore throat, etc.)? Who to contact and what to do?
If a factory worker exhibits symptoms (cough, breathing difficulties or fever) that may indicate an acute respiratory infection, including coronavirus, he/she should stay at home immediately and contact their general practitioner who will arrange for testing if necessary.
Other members of the workforce should monitor their health and, if symptoms occur, stay at home and contact their general practitioner. In order to protect themselves and others, all members of the workforce should follow hygiene requirements and wash their hands frequently.
If my colleague tested positive for the corona virus, am I now also sick and what should I do?
If your colleague tested positive for the corona virus, you are also recommended to stay at home for 14 days.
Can symptomatic homeless people move around freely in public places?
From the evening of April 9, the people in shelters who are infected with the coronavirus or have been in close contact with them are not allowed to leave the place where they are staying and must remain in isolation. The restriction to movement applies to them from the time the disease is diagnosed until they are recovered. They are allowed to leave the shelter only on the order of a health care worker or a police official, or in an emergency situation that threatens their life or health, i.e. the people will be taken to a hospital for treatment if necessary.
To other people staying in a shelter, the same rules apply as to people who are living with a person who has been diagnosed but are not symptomatic and are not in direct contact with the sick person.
A person staying in a shelter must be guaranteed daily food and other necessary aid. In order to ensure security in the shelter, the police is monitoring that the restrictions to movement are adhered to.
Considering that people still need to use a shelter, the sick people and those that have been in close contact with them must be separated from the others. The homeless people who, for instance, arrive to the shelter cannot come into contact with the sick persons.
There are 18 shelter service providers in Estonia. Altogether there are 626 places in the shelters. The locations with the most shelter places are Tallinn — 264, Tartu — 52, Narva — 61, and Pärnu — 62. There are three institutions that offer shelter services to adults only, in Narva, Haapsalu and Rapla.
How much will someone be fined for breaking the restrictions on free movement by moving around when such restrictions are in place?
As members of a society we have to stop the spread of the virus, and we can only do it by working together. We must look after one another, and if we are ill we should not go to work or to places where people are and where we can spread the illness.
If somebody close to us is ill but thinks that they do not need to stay at home to get better, we must explain to them that not everyone is in peak health or has a perfectly functioning immune system, and for that reason it is important not to let the virus spread. Honest explanation is the best way to convince someone. If it does not work, then it is important to know that breaking the rules of the state of emergency is an administrative violation in legal terms. The same regulation that made staying at home compulsory in Estonia sets a penalty of 2000 euros for failing to do so. The police hope that people who enter Estonia will understand the requirement to stay at home and will abide by it responsibly.
The Police and Border Guard Board can use random controls to enforce the requirement stay at home by contacting people directly. They can also monitor whether it is being complied with during their everyday work, such as traffic supervision.
If a person arrived recently in Estonia, can they, for example, go for a hike during the period of self-isolation along a public trekking path?
A person who is in isolation cannot come into contact with other people, so they cannot go for a walk along a busy path. As of 25 March, in public places (such as outdoor playgrounds and open air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking and biking trails) and indoor spaces (except at home), people must keep a distance of at least 2 m from others. Only two people at most can gather in public places.
This restriction does not apply to families moving around together and to people in official public functions.
Who issues the quarantine certificate to be presented to a Finnish employer?
Quarantine has not been enacted here and these kinds of certificates are not issued. A person can take out a certificate of sick leave in the case of sickness or a certificate of care leave if they have to care for a close one who has become sick.
When is it safe to return to the society after the symptoms of the disease have passed?
A person is infectious up to 14 days after the first symptoms of the disease have appeared.
In order to declare someone recovered the person has to be at least two days fever-free, and at least one day without respiratory symptoms (cough and throat pain). Decisions regarding the health status, and return to the society will be made by the family physician.
What are the recommendations for employers regarding employees who have been abroad or who have been exposed to COVID-19?
Employees should be allowed to stay at home for 14 days after
exposure to a person infected with COVID-19 and/or
after returning from a risk area.
If a person comes from a risk area and has doubts about their health, however, has not had symptoms of illness or contact with infected persons, he or she should get in touch with their employer and agree to either stay home and/or work remotely.
At the doctor’s discretion, it is possible to also receive a certificate of incapacity to work. From March until May, the state will compensate the first three sick days for all who apply for incapacity to work. Based on the certificate, the employer (from day 4) and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (from day 9) will pay the worker’s incapacity to work benefits.
If the person insured in Estonia has been issued a medical certificate abroad (a medical certificate from the foreign country), then the benefit will be also paid by the Health Insurance Fund. A foreign medical certificate must be submitted to the employer, who will add the employer’s certificate and submit the documents to the Health Insurance Fund.
If a person insured by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund unexpectedly needs medical help within the European Union, he or she will receive medical attention with a European Health Insurance Card on an equal basis with the insured residents of that country. Also, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund will compensate medical costs incurred due to hospitalisation or doctor’s visits on the basis of invoices, as usual.
For costs incurred outside the EU, the person should turn to their travel insurance provider for compensation.
If a person returned from a trip, stays at home but the employer does not allow for distance work, the family physician does not issue the sick note because there are no symptoms of disease. What should the person do?
If the employer decides to not allow the worker back to work, they must maintain the 6-month average of wages for the worker until the worker is allowed back to work.
To prevent the spread of disease it has been recommended to also air office spaces. How to clean the air when the office has general ventilation and the windows cannot be opened?
If it is not possible to air the rooms, surfaces should be regularly cleaned with disinfectant. The corona virus does not spread through the ventilation system but mainly by a close contact with a person suspected to be infected who has symptoms characteristic to the disease, mainly a cough.
The precondition to the spread of the virus is close contact with the bodily fluids (blood, excrements, urine, spit, sperm) of an infected person. When a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks, droplets containing the virus end up in the air. These virus droplets are quite heavy and therefore do not travel very far in the air. According to what we have learned thus far they can travel 2 meters at the maximum. Because of their heaviness it is also not probable that air flow would make the droplets travel further from surfaces.
The life span of virus droplets on surfaces depends on the air temperature and average humidity of the surrounding environment. At room temperature, or 22-25 degrees and 40% relative humidity, the virus survives up to 4 or 5 days. The higher the temperature and relative humidity, the faster the virus is destroyed.
An effective way to destroy the corona virus from surfaces is using different biocides or antimicrobial solutions. One of the most common ones is ethanol. A solution containing 70% ethanol is adequate for cleaning surfaces of COVID-19 contamination.
Can I order postal packages from foreign countries or is this a way to get infected?
The novel corona virus COVID-19 does not spread with goods coming from foreign countries so it is safe to accept and open postal packages ordered from foreign countries without fear of getting infected.
What kind of movement restrictions apply to me and to the people I live with if I have been diagnosed with Coronavirus?
If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19, you need to remain home until full recovery, according to the order of 28 March (https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/326032020007). Full recovery means that you have not had any fever during the last 48 hours or any cough/sore throat during the last 24 hours. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, you are forbidden to leave home. You are permitted to leave home only on the orders of a medical professional or a police officer, or if your life or health is at risk.
If you have no symptoms and you are living with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you can leave home only in the following cases:
to perform your professional duties if you are a medical professional or if you offer other services required in dealing with the health emergency;
to procure daily goods such as food or medicine near your home and only if you have no one to help you with this task;
if all contacts with the person infected with coronavirus are excluded;
to stay outdoors by your house.
In any case you need to follow the restrictions that apply in public places, such as keeping a 2-metre distance between people and staying alone or with just one other person. In addition you need to be in possession of an identity document.
If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and you have no one to provide you with basic needs (food, medicine), please contact your local authorities by phone or by e-mail.
Police and Border Guard Board has a right to monitor the observance of movement restrictions. In case of violations a penalty payment of up to 2000 € may be imposed.
Can residents of nursing homes move around in a public place under the current circumstances, for instance to go to town or for a walk?
No, starting from the evening of April 3, residents of nursing homes are not allowed to leave the territory of their nursing home, except those that are not symptomatic and want to go home. In that case it has to be taken into account that they will not be able to return to the nursing home before the end of the emergency situation.
Those residents that are already isolated (have been infected with the coronavirus or have come into contact with infected people) must follow the same strict restrictions to movement that have been in force up to now. They can come into contact only with the nursing home personnel who are using personal protective equipment. If necessary, the nursing home resident will be taken from the nursing home to the hospital to be treated, or she is treated on site if the case does not require treatment in a hospital.
These requirements apply until the order of the person in charge of the emergency situation is amended and the need for them is reassessed every two weeks.
There is a rumour spreading in South-Estonia about drinking ether as protection against the coronavirus. Is there any truth in it?
None whatsoever. Ether is a liquid which induces intoxication and consuming just 30ml can cause serious damage to your health, 60ml may prove fatal.
Would airing the rooms help to prevent the transmission of the infection?
Coronavirus is transmitted as droplet infection. Based on current information, we cannot dismiss the possibility of coronavirus transmission though aerosolization as airborne fine particles.
Airing the rooms to reduce the transmission is important. This is especially for care homes, and offices where the work must be continued during the emergency situation.
What kind of settings should be used for operating a building´s ventilation system currently?
In non-residential premises and social welfare institutions, the ventilation system must not be switched off for the duration of the emergency situation, even if the building is not in use.
The ventilation system must also operate at evenings and weekends at with either design capacity or normal daily regime (100%) or reduced capacity (at least 40%). The ventilation system operating with reduced capacity must be switched to the design capacity regime at least two hours before the building or part of the building will be used.
Circulating air ventilation systems are in use in storehouses and shopping centres. They must be fully switched onto the external air injection to avoid possible virus circulation through the ventilation system.
In other ventilation systems, the air injection and extraction settings must be reviewed so that the system sends the air exhaust out without recirculating it.
If the building does not have an air conditioning and ventilation system that guarantees suitable indoor climate, the rooms must be actively aired. This should be done at least once an hour and within 15 minutes before people arrive.
Room capacity-based circulating cooling or heating device (for example: fan-coil, split device) need to be switched off unless it is necessary to ensure a certain temperature in the room or when the device cannot be switched off.
In this case, continuous air flow through the device must be ensured. If the fan coil (heating device with a ventilator) is operational, the settings must be changed so that the fan would not turn off. This way the virus does not accumulate in the filter.
When can a person be considered recovered from the coronavirus and how is it determined?
The studies thus far have shown that, on average, in mild and moderate cases an infected person is infectious for 7-12 after the appearance of symptoms, in severe cases up to 14 days. That is why you should isolate for 14 days. In addition, a person must have been
without a fever for at least 48 hours and
without acute symptoms of the virus for at least 24 hours.
If the fever and coughing persist even on the 14th day, you have to stay home until they are gone and then two more days to be safe.
If a person has been hospitalized with a severe case, getting declared recovered depends largely on his condition. The hospitals generally recommend staying at home for two more weeks after being released from the hospital (this does not apply to those who had mild symptoms but were still hospitalized for some reason).
The virus can be detected in a lab even up to 37 days but the patient is not infectious anymore. As the conclusions of research are contradictory, the safest course of action is to follow the principle of 14 days in isolation. This should be adhered to even if the symptoms disappear within a few days. These kinds of stricter rules help to contain the spread of the virus. Depending on whether you are healing at home or in a hospital, the instructions about your health and the isolation will come from your family physician or attending physician. This means that you should primarily act according to the recommendations of your doctor, who is the person most familiar with the given case.
How often does the Health Board update the information on their website and the statistical information on the coronavirus map?
The Health Board updates the data on the coronavirus map every day between 10 and 12. By that time, the Health Board has received the information on the number of tests analysed and the data on persons in hospital care from Estonian hospitals.
Do I need to clean, and how should I clean goods and packages purchased from a store?
If you have bought berries, vegetables and fruit from the store, they must be washed properly with warm water. The use of soap or dishwasher liquid is not recommended. Plastic packaging can be washed with soap water or cleaned with a disinfectant, and paper containers can be disinfected.
Coronavirus transmits with human-to-human contacts as droplet infection, mainly through close contact with an infected person who has infection symptoms: in particular – fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. The virus remains active on contaminated surfaces for up to 72 hours. It is therefore important to prevent contamination and, if necessary, to clean and disinfect surfaces which might have been exposed to the virus.
According to research, coronavirus cannot be transmitted with food. Coronaviruses need a host body, an animal or a human to survive and multiply.
What medicines are being used in Estonia to treat the coronavirus? There are countries that use malaria medicine for this — is it being used here as well?
There is no virus-specific treatment for the coronavirus COVID-19 and it is only possible to ease the symptoms. The World Health Organization has not yet recommended any medicines to be taken into the treatment scheme. Some countries have experimented with treating the coronavirus with malaria medicine but experimental treatment is not practiced in Estonia.
Should apartment associations disinfect surfaces in common use, like handrails of the hall staircases and elevator buttons?
The Health Board recommends disinfecting the door handles, hand rails, elevator buttons etc. of apartment buildings at least once a day. Viruses are destroyed by a disinfectant that contains at least 70% ethanol.
Apartment associations can also offer the possibility to disinfect hands. Several apartment buildings have already done this. You should, however, definitely remember to wash your hands thoroughly after coming home. You can find more recommendations from the guidelines of the Health Board.
Can coronavirus spread with food?
According to research, coronavirus cannot be transmitted with food, therefore it is not likely food would spread the virus. Coronaviruses need a host body, an animal or a human to survive and multiply.
Can people contract coronavirus from their pets?
According to current knowledge, animals do not transmit infections to humans and therefore it is safe for animal keepers to care for them: feed them, treat them, etc. Thousands of pets have been tested around the world, and only in three cases the genetic residue of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing agent have been found in the samples taken from the pets of coronavirus patients. For none of the cases it can be confirmed that a disease in an animal was caused by coronavirus. Based on current knowledge, we can state that the virus residue found in the animal was caused by environmental contamination (the animal’s organism is like any other surface on which the virus deposits).
During the crisis it is also important to pay attention to animal welfare, and animals cannot be neglected.
Does a quarantined care home have the right to restrict the movement of their residents? Can the residents be restrained, for example, and be prevented from leaving the room by locking their doors?
The care home must ensure that infected and non-infected residents would not come into contact with each other. In order to do this, the residents with the coronavirus diagnosis and symptoms must be separated from the other residents.
If there are infected people in the care home, the movement of residents between rooms and different sections is not allowed.
The residents must be informed of the restrictions, and if necessary, the information must be repeated. As of April 3, 2020, until the end of the emergency situation, the residents are not allowed to leave the territory of the care home.
Only a person without symptoms can go home from a care home but they cannot return before the end of the emergency situation.
The healthy residents of the care home need to be able to go outside. It is certainly not right to lock people without disease symptoms indoors.
If the care home does not have a suitable garden or a courtyard, the person in charge of the emergency situation can establish some other area as suitable for spending time outside in co-operation with the care home.
If one family member is infected, what should the rest do? What to do if the infected person cannot be separated from others?
The infected person must definitely stay at home until recovery.
Other members of the family must also stay home for 14 days as they have been in immediate contact with the infected person.
This helps to prevent further spread of the virus.
If another family member develops a fever or a cough during that time period, a family doctor should be consulted.
The infected family member must be separated as much as possible and only one person should provide the care.
It is important to clean all the surfaces at home every day, and to air the rooms.
Testing for the virus
The government has announced plans for a pilot project on Saaremaa for population-based testing along with a seroepidemiological study. Does this mean that all the residents of Saaremaa will be mass tested?
A population-based seroepidemiological study definitely does not mean mass testing, i.e. not all the residents of Saaremaa will be tested, rather a representative sample will be selected. Participation in the study is voluntary. With this the government is hoping to get information on how many people have already had the coronavirus, in order to get the data on which to base the decisions regarding the perspective of possibly easing the emergency situation restrictions on Saaremaa. Currently no decision has been made on how the organizational details of the testing will look like. The government is also waiting for the information being collaboratively put together by the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Health Board and the Scientific Advisory Board by 14 April, on the most suitable possible test to use, as it has to be the best available, of high quality and science-based.
What does the planned seroepidemiological study show?
Seroepidemiological studies enable to determine whether there are virus antibodies in the blood. As antibodies appear in the organism as a reaction to the infection after the virus has already gotten into the organism, which means, according to differing sources, 5-10 days after the symptoms have appeared, the antibodies’ test is not suitable for early diagnosis of the disease or determining the need for quarantine. Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimate that determining antibodies might be necessary for carrying out later seroepidemiological studies, in order to assess the immunity of the population.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health Board will begin analysing how and with which tests it is possible to carry out this study.
Is there information on the longevity of the immunity achieved after suffering through the coronavirus? How long might it last?
It is too early to say whether suffering though the disease will create immunity. The virus is new, only having emerged at the end of December. Based on previous viruses, including coronaviruses, it is probable that protecting antibodies will appear in people. But we cannot presume it with absolute certainty yet.
What kind of tests are currently used for early detection of a coronavirus infection?
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommend using molecular assays that detect SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA. These require well-equipped laboratories, skilled specialists and several reagents. At the same time the testing capability will not be able to keep up with the growing demand.
Several rapid tests that give a result in only 10 to 30 minutes have been developed. In order to guarantee the reliability of the results from these, the rapid tests have to be clinically validated. The WHO COVID-19 reference laboratory is currently validating commercial testing kits. The European Commission along with the member states is financing accelerated clinical validation studies of COVID-19 diagnostic rapid tests in the hospital laboratories of several member states.
The scientific publication of the results should soon bring clarity to how the diagnostic rapid tests work clinically, what their limitations are, and which tests are sufficiently safe and reliable to be used in medicine and public health. In validating the rapid tests, the ECDC is working in close co-operation with the European Commission, the authorities of the member states, a non-profit organization FIND (https://www.finddx.org) that is developing laboratory diagnostics, and WHO. The member states are notified immediately after the results have become clear.
Who and why are being tested for COVID-19 and how?
People are tested when they are symptomatic and it is medically indicated.
The necessity of testing is decided by the family doctor who sends the patient to be tested.
The family doctor has been issued with guidelines but the final decision is always the family doctor’s medical decision that she takes, knowing the patients in her list, taking into consideration the patient’s symptoms, general health condition and all additional diseases.
The doctor will evaluate all cases individually.
Testing priority is given to older people and the chronically ill, regardless of their age, which means that in justified cases people of all ages are tested if there is a medical indication.
The guidelines that were agreed upon between the family doctors and the Estonian Health Board are there to aid the doctor, and all recommendations in the guidelines should be viewed in combination. Determining that a person belongs to a risk group and making the decision are a doctor’s responsibility, a person himself cannot and should not do this.
Testing does not change the treatment, a doctor is guided by a person’s symptoms and general condition, also taking account additional chronic diseases.
All hospitalised patients who have corona virus symptoms are also tested.
Random sampling will also be used to test medical workers without symptoms of illness, care home workers, social workers, police and border guard officers, rescue service workers and other front line persons, who due to their work may pose a danger to the risk groups.
Following the principles of testing is necessary in the current crises in order to rationally use personal protective equipment, laboratory equipment and medical workers in a situation where serious delivery issues are a reality. We have to guarantee that the health care system is operational in longer term as well and cannot create a situation where all masks and protective clothing has been used up for testing and there is not enough of it for doctors and nurses working on the front lines or during operations.
The organisation of testing is in the process of changing, we are giving information on this step-by-step. If the situation changes, the guidelines to the doctors will be reviewed as well.
If a person gets sick or has any other health concerns, his first contact is his family doctor or the family doctor help line 1220.
Where are the regional testing locations and how to recognize them?
Currently it is possible to take a free coronavirus test through a car window in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Kuressaare, Viljandi, Narva, Paide and Kohtla-Järve.
On order to be tested, you first have to call your family doctor. She will evaluate whether the test is necessary and if it is, will issue a digital referral.
Then you will get a phone call from the testing centre and the exact time and location of your test will be fixed.
Bring a personal identification document to the testing. The nasopharyngeal sample necessary for testing will be taken from you without exiting the vehicle. You will find out the results of the test on the phone within two working days and the results will also be entered into your patient portal, digilugu.
Why can´t everybody be checked for coronavirus?
Testing of any person suspected of coronavirus was appropriate when we tried to prevent the virus from entering Estonia, the aim was to detect possible cases as soon as possible, isolate the infected persons and prevent further spread of the virus.
In order for the health care system to be able to handle patients with severe symptoms, we must now focus on slowing down the spread of the virus, finding serious cases in time and treating them. Above all, we must protect vulnerable groups who are at greater risk.
The result of the test will not provide the necessary information for people to look after themselves, as there is no specific treatment, and it is only possible to alleviate the symptoms. The need for testing will be decided by the doctor. Doctors have been given instructions indicating the risk groups for which testing is recommended in the event of illness. It is left to the discretion of the family physician to decide who will be referred for a test.
The tests are carried out primarily on people who are hospitalised due to coronavirus, people at risk (aged, chronic patients, people with compromised immune systems, health care professionals and staff of social welfare institutions), and on the basis of a random selection of health care professionals without symptoms, staff of social welfare institutions, police, rescue staff and other people on the front line, who due to their tasks can pose a threat to risk groups.
Healthcare resources are limited. The test kits and personal protective equipment needed for testing are running out everywhere in the world. Therefore, we need to use the available resources in a sustainable manner in order to be able to continue the work long term.
Testing people without disease symptoms just as an assurance is not appropriate, the test result may be a false negative, the result refers only to the condition at that spedific time, and does not exclude future infection.
To slow the spread of the disease, it is most important for everyone to avoid contact with infected persons, avoid contacts with other people, follow regular hygiene rules, and anyone who becomes ill must stay at home until they are well. In case of illness, you must contact your family physician or clinic, if your condition deteriorates – if you experience shortages of breath or breathing difficulties, call the emergency line 112.
What are the steps to getting tested?
If you get sick, call your family doctor! The family doctor will evaluate whether testing is necessary and will give health advice.
If the family doctor decides that testing is necessary, she will forward an electronic order to the laboratory and they will call you to agree upon the place and time of testing. Wait for the call!
Drive to the agreed upon place with a car at the right time and have an ID document with you! Only a person with an electronic referral can give the nasopharyngeal sample at an agreed upon time on the basis of an ID document. Only a person with a family doctor’s referral that has been sent to the laboratory is tested. There is no point in coming just in case, only people with a prior registration are tested. It is not sensible to take family members along in the same car when you come to get tested.
Wait for the result, you will be called! The results will come within two working days, the person will be called. The results will also move to the digilugu.ee portal.
If your test result is positive, stay at home, follow the family doctor’s prior recommendations. If your health worsens, contact your family doctor or call an ambulance from the number 112.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you have gotten sick, call your family doctor! The family doctor will evaluate the need for testing and give medical advice. If testing is necessary, the family doctor will send the order to the laboratory and they will call you to fix a time and place of testing. Wait for the call!
Make sure that your family doctor has your phone number, otherwise the call centre cannot contact you.
Bring a personal identification document and drive in a car to the agreed upon location on time. On the basis of the document, you can give a nasopharyngeal sample at the testing location without exiting the car. Testing is done only with a digital referral of a family doctor and to preregistered persons. Do not bring along family members in the car when you come for testing.
If you cannot go to the testing location in a car, an appointment will be made over the phone for a tester to come to your home.
After you have given the sample, stay at home and wait for the results. The results will come within two working days. If the result was positive, you will get a phone call. The results will also be entered into the patient portal digilugu.ee.
If your result was positive, keep staying at home and follow the recommendations of your family doctor!
If your health worsens, contact your family doctor or call an ambulance by dialling 112.
More information: https://synlab.ee/algab-perearsti-saatekirjaga-koroonaviiruse-laiendatud-testimine/
Who has to decide whether a coronavirus sample is taken or not?
The necessity of taking a coronavirus sample is decided by the family doctor who has the necessary competence and specific instructions for this.
If a sick person is in a serious condition, an ambulance should be called.
Remember that you need to notify your doctor of returning from abroad and possible contacts with people infected with the coronavirus.
Why was the testing station in Kuressaare closed and will it now be opened again?
In the state of emergency, the hospital in Kuressaare was supposed to inform the Health Board that it had opened a testing station, as that hospital is an important part of the Estonian healthcare system and calls for assistance go through the emergency response centre. Not informing other parties about the decision caused problems in the flow of information between people, the emergency response centre and other parts of the healthcare system.
With the state of readiness that healthcare is currently in, it is extremely important to coordinate activities and give advance information about them. The Health Board has discussed this with the hospital and they are certain that cooperation and information exchange will now work successfully.
If a pharmacist has come from a foreign country and has strong symptoms of the disease, how can this worker be put in line for the test in order to protect other workers and clients?
A person who has come from a foreign country and is symptomatic must stay at home. The system for testing health care workers is being worked out at the moment.
Is there any way to do a paid corona virus test? Maybe I have already had a light version of it and am now dangerous to others? If it is not possible to do a paid test, why?
At the moment, it is not possible to take a paid test. The government has decided so because test kits may run out at one point. To test people who do not show any symptoms just to provide them with a sense of security is generally not considered feasible because it should be taken into account that a negative result only reflects the situation at the moment, giving a person a so-called false sense of security, and might not rule out getting infected. This kind of testing of random samples is only planned to be implemented for the so-called front line workers who might carry the infection to the risk group patients. In the future, in order to guarantee the provision of critical services, the focus is on the risk groups, health workers and other persons providing critical services. A person is considered infectious within 14 days of the appearance of symptoms. The decision on whether a person is considered recovered is made by the family doctor.
Do the treating physician and the infectious disease clinic decide on the necessity of administering a COVID-19 test if the person has been transferred to the infectious disease hospital and diagnosed with an RS virus but also has COVID-19 symptoms?
An employer is demanding that the employee have the corona virus test done, the family doctor does not want to do this. The company where the employee is returning to has hundreds of workers. What should he do?
The employer cannot demand a test. The employer must evaluate whether they can provide for teleworking.
What do the positive and negative coronavirus tests mean?
If you have been tested for Sars-CoV-2 and the test result is positive, it is certain that you have contracted the disease COVID-19.
If the test result is negative, monitor your health for 14 days or until symptoms subside. A negative result might not always mean that you have not contracted SARS-CoV-2 – you may still be in the incubation period, in which case the test does not show a positive result.
Does a negative COVID-19 test result invalidate the requirement for a 14-day isolation?
No, it does not.
How long does it take for the Health Board to receive the results of a coronavirus test after testing? Will the person tested get the information over the telephone only if the test came back positive or regardless of the result?
Persons who have tested positive will definitely receive a phone call. Testing and providing information on test results takes time due to excessive workload, but usually the results come in within 2 days.
When the person tests negative, the test results will be entered to the digital Patient Portal digilugu.ee, and not everybody will receive a phone call. You can access digilugu.ee website using your ID-card or Mobile-ID.
How quickly do the results of the virus test reach the patient portal? There are claims that on occasions there is no information today for a test done on Friday but the results of a test done on Sunday are there.
The information on the result of the test will be sent to the family doctor who will enter in into the patient portal. Persons whose test results were positive will be notified personally by phone.
What is a rapid coronavirus test coronavirus, and why is not used in Estonia?
Based on current knowledge and technology, the only reliable method for early diagnosis of coronavirus Covid-19 and the detection of infectious cases is the coronavirus RNA (nucleic acid) test. A nasal cotton swab will be taken. RNA diagnostics are carried out by major hospital laboratories and by SYNLAB and the Laboratory of The Health Board.
Other so-called serological rapid tests on the market which determine blood antigens or antibodies are not reliable and are not capable of assessing the patient’s infection risks. According to the latest studies, early antibodies against coronavirus will develop 5-10 days after the onset of symptoms. Since the patient is highly infectious throughout this period, an antibody test is not suitable for early diagnosis of the disease and for determining the need for quarantine. Such rapid tests provide many false negative answers, which is why the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) are not recommending using them at the present stage. At the same time, both the WHO and the ECDC estimate that the determination of antibodies may be necessary for subsequent sero-epidemiological testing to assess the immunity of the population. At present, specialists and scientists believe that reliable sero-epidemiological tests can only be carried out under laboratory conditions.
A number of rapid tests have been developed, which will only take 10 to 30 minutes to provide the result. In order to ensure the reliability of the results obtained by them, rapid tests must be clinically validated. The WHO Covid-19 reference laboratory is currently validating commercial testing kits. The European Commission, together with the Member States, will finance accelerated clinical validation studies for rapid diagnostic tests in hospital laboratories in several Member States. The publication of results as scientific publications should shortly make it clear how rapid diagnostic tests work clinically, what are their limitations and which tests are sufficiently safe and reliable for medical or public health use. The ECDC will cooperate closely with the European Commission, with the national authorities, with the non-profit agency developing laboratory diagnosis protocol (https://www.findx.org) and the WHO, in the validation of rapid tests. The Member States will be notified as soon as the results are clear.
The Health Board has warned that there are no home testing kits available at the moment, see additional information from the Health Board website: https://www.terviseamet.ee/et/uudised/terviseamet-arge-ostke-ega-kasutage-internetis-reklaamitavaid-sars-cov-2-teste. All testing devices are medical devices. In the case of such in-vitro diagnostic devices, the seller is not obliged to inform the Health Board. If the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s authorised representative were established in Estonia, they should inform the Estonian Health Board of placing the product on the market. If the manufacturer is located elsewhere outside Estonia, the distributor is obliged to make sure that the test manufacturer has complied with all the requirements. The Health Board recommends that all distributers inform the Health Board of such tests, despite the lack of an obligation. This is due to the fact of a large number of fake test kits being available.
Personal protection equipment – masks and similar
What is a protective mask?
The protective mask is most usually understood as a medical protective mask, but there are other sorts of breathing protectors such as masks and respirators. Masks can be classified as personal protection or medical equipment depending on what they are used for.
Masks are classified as personal protection equipment if they protect people against threats to themselves. Surgical masks are primarily intended to protect the patient during a medical procedure so that any particles breathed out by a doctor or surgeon would not reach the patient during the process.
Masks with a filter covering the mouth and nose protect against particles in the air. Protective masks are classified by how effective their filters are and what the maximum amount that can leak through the mask is. FFP2 class masks filter 95% of particles of 0.3 µm, which is 0.0003 mm, or larger in diameter. FFP3 class masks filter at least 99% of the particles in the air. Such masks can be worn for up to eight hours.
What should I do if I do not have a special protective mask?
People who still want to wear a mask can make their own cloth masks. A self-made cloth mask somewhat reduces the risk of an infected person spreading the virus to others and partly also protects the wearer of the mask herself if she does not have the virus yet.
With self-made masks it should be kept in mind that this is not personal protective equipment and not the same as a medical mask.
NB! A virus carrier who has received a diagnosis or a person who has symptoms of the coronavirus must stay at home and avoid contacts with others, regardless of whether he has some kind of a mask or not.
How much does a self-made mask cost?
The most important thing about a self-made mask is the material. Depending on the material used, a self-made mask can stop 30-50% of fine particles. A person wearing a self-made mask must also take all other precautionary measures: wash her hands, keep a distance with other people. It is important to remember that every time you touch the mask with your hands, the mask gets more contaminated and the risk of infection increases. It is also important to pay attention to protecting your eyes and not rub them with your hands, as the virus can also get into your organism through the open mucous membrane.
What should I keep in mind with a self-made mask?
The material of a self-made mask gets damp very quickly. A damp mask must be changed out, at least every 2-3 hours, depending on the material. One person requires about 4-5 masks a day, for instance if she needs to go to work.
How to make a mask at home, what requirements should be considered?
If you make a mask at home, this mask is not a substitute for a medical-grade mask nor would it prevent transmission like a medical-grade mask. Wearing such a mask and using other preventative measures may reduce the risk of transmission through inhalation and it will reduce the risk of infecting other people.
Instructions on how to make a home-made mask have been published by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority:
A mask must be made of a multiple-layer fabric, which can be washed at 60 degrees Celsius, and can be heat-treated.
Materials used in cleaning cloths and microfibre towels, a thicker dishwasher fabric, antimicrobial pillowcase are suitable for making home-made masks.
The material should have good breathability.
the mask material should not be too stiff but comfortable against the skin.
the mask must be fixed behind the ears; a rubber band could be used. Instead of a rubber band, a ribbon can be attached to each corner of the mask, but this mask would be more difficult to use.
The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority instructions for making a home-made mask: https://www.ttja.ee/sites/default/files/failid/dokumendid/kuidas_valmistada_kodus_kaitsemaska_210x297_est.pdf (in Estonian, pdf).
More detailed instructions for making a home-made mask for private persons, and making a medical-grade mask for businesses are available here (in Estonian, pdf).
What rules should be observed when wearing a mask?
It is important to keep the following in mind.
The mask should sit on the face properly, so that the mouth and the nose are covered. If the mask has a wire to keep it in place, then the wire should sit tight around the nose, the bottom of the mask should fit under the chin.
If the mask has been pulled off the face, or it has been been repeatedly adjusted or touched, then the mask must be changed.
The maximum time period for the use of a mask bought at the pharmacy is three hours. After that it is recommended to change the mask because the top layer of the mask might have become contaminated with the virus.
The mask cannot be damp. A damp mask must be changed.
Used mask needs to be disposed to a bin with a lid or placed in a plastic bag which can be sealed. The mask must be disposed with proper care.
Please see the proper use of the protective mask here.
Can a self-made mask be repeatedly used?
Yes, but the cloth masks have to be made from multilayered cloth and they must be washable at high temperatures. The mask has to be washed at 60 degrees, at the lowest. NB! Used masks must be gathered into a closed plastic bag or box. Used masks should certainly not be left lying around.
When would it make sense to wear a mask?
It generally does not make sense to wear a mask at home or outside. Following the 2-metre-distance rule is enough outside. At home it does not make sense to wear a mask because if one family member is infected and other family members are not permanently isolated from him, the virus will probably still find a way to infect the other family members.
It might make sense to wear a mask in public places (stores, pharmacies, medical facilities, public transport) where there are a lot of people, in order to reduce the possibility that the droplet infection released with coughing or sneezing reaches other people. Covering your nose and mouth is an appropriate precaution to take in a place like that. A mask might also be of help to a healthy person if an infected person coughs in his direction — it might somewhat reduce the possibility of the healthy person getting sprayed with a large enough dosage of the droplet virus to get infected and sick.
Who is the medical mask intended for and what does it achieve?
The medical or surgical mask is a single-use mask. Surgical masks are primarily intended to protect the patient during a medical procedure so that any particles or saliva breathed out by a doctor or surgeon would not reach the patient during the process and so would not cause additional complications and illnesses.
We recommend that infected people wear surgical masks to avoid spreading particles by coughing and sneezing. A surgical mask may also give some direct protection against microscopic particles and may deter you from touching your face. Surgical masks do not give complete protection against the virus, but they do sharply reduce the risk of transmission.
Surgical masks stop offering effective protection if they become wet, and once one has been taken off it cannot be used again but must be thrown away. Neither should the mask be shared as it is for use by one person only, and once it has been taken off, even briefly, it should not be used again. Pulling the mask down to the chin or taking it off for a moment is just the same as taking it off fully, and in this case it should be thrown away and a new mask should be used.
When you take a mask off it is important to observe hygiene rules for your hands properly afterwards, because a used mask may contain particles of infection. Hands must be washed after the mask is taken off. After you have taken the mask off, you should only touch your face once you have washed your hands properly.
Where can masks be sold and what information must accompany them?
Masks can be sold everywhere — pharmacies, construction stores, health stores, grocery stores, online stores. The important thing is that people get the correct information — a person must know what it is she is buying, what it protects her from and how the masks should be used.
That is why the product must be accompanied by product information (name, the standanrd it meets and information on its protective properties), an instruction manual in Estonian and information on the importer.
For instance, the masks currently sold in most pharmacies must read: Protective mask Standard EN 149:2001+A1 2009 Protection class FFP1
If there is no information on protective properties of the product, it can only be advertised as a face mask.
Work of hospitals, clinics, general physicians, specialist physicians and pharmacies
I had booked an appointment with a specialist already a long time ago but now all the appointments are postponed. When do I finally get a consultation with the doctor and what should I do?
If you still need to a consultation with a specialist, then the Estonian Health Insurance Fund has sent guidelines to health care institutions requesting them to contact the patients at least two days prior the planned consultation.
The hospital has three options:
To offer a remote consultation over a telephone or a video call. Remote consultations are provided by all the specialities and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund will cover the costs.
Secondly, the doctor can decide to call the patient in for a consultation dependant on their health status. The patient nor the family members of the patient should not have any symptoms of the virus in order to protect their own and the doctor´s health.
Thirdly, a doctor or a health care institution can postpone the consultation. If the consultation will be postponed, it is recommended to give the patient a new appointment time immediately, if possible, or to contact the patient and to give them the new appointment time when the restrictions due to the emergency situation have been lifted, and it is possible to receive the patients again.
Once new appointment times have become available, the specialist consultation appointments will be given first to the patients whose consultations appointments were postponed. There is a feedback survey on Facebook where people have been able to list their answers regarding their level of satisfaction with a remote consultation.
I need to see a specialist doctor during the emergency situation. What should I do?
If you have a need to have an appointment with a specialist during the emergency situation, then:
Contact your family doctor, your family doctor is always your first contact point.
The family doctor has several options. The family doctor can get the specific details of the health issue, and for most of the issues the family doctor can provide the treatment.
If the family doctor has additional questions for a specialist, they can organise an e-consultation, which will be financed by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. E-consultation is currently available for 23 specialties.
If the specialist and the family doctor find it necessary for the patient to have an appointment with the specialist, then the future treatment will be handled by the specialist who provided e-consultation. The specialist considers the health concerns of the patient and can decide whether they call the patient in for an appointment or organise a remote consultation.
How is the sale of medications in pharmacies regulated during the emergency situation? Are there any restrictions?
The Minister of Social Affairs has decided that in order to guarantee the availability of medications, the quantities prescribed and sold will be reduced, in order to avoid the stockpiling of medications during the emergency situation.
The following changes entered into force on 19 March:
A healthcare professional is allowed to prescribe medications for up to two months;
A pharmacy may dispense a medication only on the basis of a single repeat prescription and for a maximum period of two months;
When dispensing a medication from a pharmacy, the pharmacist must consider the quantities of the medication previously purchased, and dispense the medication only if the amount already dispensed is not enough to continue treatment for two months or until the the end of a fixed duration of treatment;
In exceptional cases, a medication may be dispensed from a pharmacy if the life or health of a person would be endangered if the medication were not dispensed. The dispenser must document the reason for dispensing the medication;
Up to two packs of over-the-counter medicine per medicinal product may be dispensed to a single purchaser.
Do pharmacies have to reorganise their work in a state of emergency?
Of course pharmacies and pharmacists also have to do everything possible to reduce the risk of infection. It is necessary to protect pharmacists, but also front line medical workers and patients who come into the pharmacy. Standard measures of caution should be followed in pharmacies.
The virus spreads from person to person through droplet infection, mainly through a close contact with a person with a suspected infection who has symptoms characteristic to the infection, mainly a cough. A pharmacist must keep a distance with the client, when possible use protective gloves and when necessary a protective mask. It is also sensible to reorganise the work of the pharmacy: limit the free movement of people among the shelves, disinfect surfaces that are in frequent use, restrict several people entering at the same time etc.
Many pharmacies have already reorganised their work this way to reduce the risk of infection.
The web page of the Estonian Health Board contains all the guidelines that pharmacies have to base themselves on as well. https://www.terviseamet.ee/et/COVID-19-trukised.
The Agency of Medicines has also worked out recommendations in order to protect both the pharmacists and the patients: https://www.ravimiamet.ee/kkk-%E2%80%93-covid-19-ja-apteegid
Is the pharmacy reform going to be finalized, how many places will lose their pharmacies, how do people get their medicines?
As of March 20, there are 487 general pharmacies and 2 e-pharmacies in Estonia. As of March 20, 239 pharmacies and 1 e-pharmacy meet all the requirements. Most of the pharmacies that do not meet the requirements are in big cities that also have pharmacies that do meet the requirements. The Agency of Medicines is also currently processing 155 applications for operating licenses to open a new pharmacy of bring a current pharmacy up to the requirements. There are currently two municipalities that would not have pharmacy services – Lihula and Oru borough of Kohtla-Järve.
Additionally, in order to guarantee the accessibility of medicines, it is prohibited to export certain medicines from Estonia in order to ensure these medicines are there for our patients.
Also, the volumes of prescription and issuing of medicines were temporarily reduced on March 19 in order to ensure accessibility of medicines. From March 19, a health care worker may prescribe up to two months of medicines for chronic diseases. In case of a repeated prescription, a pharmacist can issue a medicine only according to one prescription and for up to two months. One buyer can be issued up to two packages of over-the-counter medicine per medicine.
If I do not have health insurance, do I need to pay for my treatment should I get infected with COVID-19?
The emergency care of people without health insurance is paid for by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and that applies to COVID-19 as well.
How can I get a doctor´s appointment?
Before visiting a doctor consider whether your visit can be postponed to a later date. In an emergency, call an ambulance.
For more detailed instructions please contact your GP via phone.
If you are a senior citizen, then the virus poses the greatest risk to you. Stay at home and ask your family members to get your prescription medications from the pharmacy (they will need your ID code to do this). When the pharmacist gives them the pharmaceuticals, make sure they ask for the box or the packaging to be disinfected. Arrange for the medication to be left behind the door or in your post box, to minimise any contact with germs.
What kind of benefits (if any) befall to the medical staff and their family in case an employee suffers health damage or dies in the line of duty?
The state does not provide for any specific compensation in these circumstances. Medical professionals work according to the Employment Contracts Act and earn benefits according to their work contract, so it depends on agreements between employer and employee.
On what grounds has the Health Board suspended the scheduled treatments in private health institutions?
The purpose of suspending scheduled treatments is to contain the spread of the coronavirus by limiting contacts that carry a risk of transmission. Additionally, as the lack of personal protective equipment is becoming ever more acute, it is necessary to use the existing personal protective equipment rationally and economically. The Health Board is simultaneously preparing for a worst-case scenario where it might be necessary to also deploy those medical workers who are freed up from the private healthcare sector. We must also be ready for a situation where the procurements in the works are delayed or fall through, and there might come a need to direct the personal protective equipment stocks of the private healthcare sector to the primary level and the hospitals. There are also preparations being made in case the number of sick people increases considerably and the space in private clinics must be used for in-patient treatment.
This is an emergency decision during the situation of crisis. Scheduled treatment will be resumed as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.
Why has scheduled dental care been suspended? Where can I get help if I have a toothache?
In the course of procedures, a constant aerosol cloud is created in the dental office that covers all objects within a 5 metre radius. In an environment like that there is a very high risk of a spread of infection and the requirements for personal protective equipment are also heightened. Due to this, scheduled treatments have been postponed and only emergency treatment is available.
In a case of an acute dental problem, consult your dentist first. He can counsel you over the phone and prescribe medicines, if necessary, or give emergency treatment, if possible. In a case of an acute dental problem it is possible to turn to certain clinics for free emergency dental treatment. These clinics have a contract with the Estonian Health Insurance Fund — you can find the contact information on the web page of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. To guarantee safety, it is necessary to have a preregistration and a triage on site.
If private clinics can continue offering emergency care, what services can they provide?
Scheduled treatments are suspended in order to reduce the spread of the disease, and to save on personal protective equipment. In suspending scheduled treatments every single case needs to be evaluated individually and if the suspension of a scheduled activity would lead to a worse health outcome or would endanger the person’s health, the treatment would need to continue. Decision regarding the continuation of scheduled treatment will be made by the treating physician. In this difficult situation the state has the utmost confidence in the clinicians. If the treating physician finds the suspension of the treatment might in any way endanger the patient´s health or worsen the health outcome, the scheduled treatment will need to go ahead. The decision regarding planned surgeries will be made by the clinic.
Does the suspension of scheduled treatment in private clinics also apply to pregnant women who are customers of the clinic?
On the basis of the Health Board’s decision, scheduled treatments have been suspended in private clinics. Monitoring a pregnancy is not considered a scheduled treatment, so this activity must continue in private medical facilities. If there is a lack of personal protective equipment, the pregnant women need to be referred to a hospital for monitoring. The Estonian Gynaecologists’ Society, the Estonian Midwives’ Association, the Estonian Paediatric Association and the Estonian Perinatology Association have agreed on recommendations for monitoring a normal pregnancy in Estonia during the coronavirus epidemic. The monitoring of pregnancies will continue on the basis of these guildelines. It is recommended that four contact visits and at least three phone visits take place during a pregnancy.
Do private clinics have to suspend scheduled distance consultations as well?
No, distance consultations can continue and they must be preferred to physical appointments.
How are private health care providers remunerated if they have gone to help the hospitals?
All health care workers who are providing assistance due to the increased need will be remunerated on an equal basis. Remuneration will be agreed as appropriate, based on an hospital contract, a general medical care contract, or other.
How will private clinics be compensated for the loss of income as a result of suspending scheduled treatments?
These private healthcare facilities that have a contract with the Estonian Health Insurance Fund need to turn to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and solve the financing issue in co-operation. The rest can use other measures being worked out by the state.
Is health surveillance part of scheduled work or has it been suspended?
Family doctors do not carry out health surveillance. Health surveillance will continue immediately after the end of the emergency situation, until then the employer will assess the heath along with the employee on so-called statement basis. Healthcare service providers are permitted to carry out health surveillance for professions whose health requirements come from international conventions (e.g. seamen and pilots) and specific law.
What are on-call family health centres and what kind of care do they provide?
Family doctors have suspended scheduled appointments and prevention work, the monitoring and vaccination of babies continues and the focus is on dealing with the seriously ill patients.
The Health Board, in co-operation with the Estonian Society of Family Doctors, has mapped on-call family health centres in all counties. This is in preparation to a situation where a family doctor or a whole family health centre team becomes sick and the centre has to suspend its work and hand over the servicing or their list. The centres are launched in stages, according to need. If get sick outside the regular operating hours if a family health centre, your first contact is still the family doctor hotline 1220 that can refer you to an on-call family doctor, if necessary.
If my doctor´s appointment has been cancelled – how can I find out about it and what should I do?
If you had an appointment with a specialist but the appointment was cancelled due to the coronavirus, the health care institution will contact you. Please be available to answer the phone call, don´t forget to charge your phone.
If possible, a telephone or a video consultation will be offered. If it is not possible, the doctor or the health care institution will give you a new appointment.
NB! If you are given a new appointment, the health care institution cannot invoice the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. Treatment invoices can be checked from the patient portal digilugu.ee.
I have tried contacting my family physician/specialist physician for renewing my prescription, but I cannot get hold of them. What should I do?
Your first contact for any health problems is your family physician, they can also renew most of the prescriptions prescribed by specialists physicians.
Please pay attention to the working hours of the clinic before calling, and be patient.
The phonelines might be busier than usual because a lot of people are ill – in addition to coronavirus, also other seasonal viruses are affecting people.
Some family physicians accept new prescription or prescription renewal requests by e-mail.
NB! Please do not delay your prescription request until your medication runs out – better renew the prescription a week or two early.
Where should a foreigner who does not have a family doctor in Estonia turn to for a corona test?
A foreigner staying in Estonia, as well as everyone else who does not have a family doctor needs to turn to the closest family medicine centre. The family doctor there will then decide whether a corona test is necessary or not.
Turning to a doctor with acute symptoms of any respiratory disease has been equated with emergency care and this is paid for by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
Psychological help and counselling hotline, child helpline, victim support
How to get psychological first aid and support against burn-out in the crisis situation?
In addition to information on the effects of emergency situations in different areas of life, the crisis information phone 1247 also provides psychological first aid. In order to provide assistance, the specialists of the Social Insurance Board victim support crisis hotline 116 006 have been involved. Hotline can advise on how to maintain the mental health of yourself and others during the crisis. People are welcome to call if they are concerned about their loved ones and want to discuss how to provide them with better emotional support.
Everybody is welcome to call, including people fighting the virus on the frontline, doctors, nurses, policemen, rescuers, teachers, etc., to support their ability to continue their work and prevent the burnout. You can call and speak in Estonian, Russian or English 24/7. People who prefer not to call can be advised over internet at https://www.palunabi.ee/. Help and advice are also available at the website https://peaasi.ee/en/.
If someone has been beaten, experienced mental or sexual violence, been a victim of negligence or maltreatment, where should they turn for help?
People are welcome to call the victim support crisis hotline, the call is free of charge and the service is available 24/7. If they so desire, the person calling the victim support crisis hotline may remain anonymous. The calls can be made in Estonian, Russian or English. If making a phone call is not possible, or if the person does not like to talk about their problem over the phone, assistance can be provided by contacting palunabi.ee where the victim can receive advice and have a conversation using a chat window. Web counselling takes place 24/7 and in three languages.
Crisis counselling 25/7 via telephone and internet helps the victims to reach the necessary help. For example, the victim can contact the crisis hotline at the presence of the police patrol, or later, in order to receive initial advice and agree a meeting with the victim support specialist. Victim support crisis hotline can be called from abroad at: +372 614 7393.
Where should children and adults who are in trouble turn to when they need advice and help with matters regarding children?
The Child Helpline 116 111 operates all over Estonia 24/7, in Estonian and Russian, also in English if necessary. The calls are free to all callers, it is possible to call from a mobile phone even if you are out of call credit. All queries that have to do with children, topics connected to children are welcome, also notifications of children in need of assistance. It is open for both children themselves and adults — parents, relatives, specialists, neighbours, friends, and acquaintances. But also everybody else who needs advice regarding children. You can also ask for advice by e-mail, writing to [email protected] There is also the possibility to use internet counselling on the webpage of the Child Helpline http://www.lasteabi.ee The queries are answered by experienced counsellors who first establish the reason for the query and then give advice and instructions on how to act in that situation. If quick intervention is necessary in the interests of the child, they cooperate with the police, the Child Protection Department of the Social Insurance Board and the local child protection worker. The person making the query may remain anonymous if they so wish. If the query makes it clear that the wellbeing and safety of the child are in danger, the Child Helpline is obligated to forward the information to the relevant specialists. All queries are recorded. The Child Helpline can also be found on Facebook and as an app on a smart device, using the search term “Lasteabi” on both.
Is the sufficient supply of food in Estonia guaranteed? Will the food run out at stores?
Food supply is sufficient and the state will ensure that supplies are increased, if needed. Those responsible for the food stocks have confirmed to the Ministry of Rural Affairs that the previously agreed stock quantities will always be there. Grocery stores will remain open. Generally, grocery stores have at least a month of goods in stock. If one food group runs out, it will be temporary, and shelves will be restocked within few days.
To make sure that deliveries are not interrupted, consultations have been initiated with various associations responsible for food supply security. At the moment, we have not been alerted of a food producer or food processor having stopped their activities, so food security of supply is guaranteed and food production for supplying our own country functions well.
Should I get a stockpile of food, basic daily items and medicine?
Retail shops have assured that they will not run out of goods, the supply chain is working. The aim of the current established emergency situation is to ensure least contact possible between people. Therefore, you could purchase two week supply of food for your family in order to reduce the frequency of shopping, and to avoid excessive contact with other people.
Keep food at home that your family eats.
Consider all special needs of your family members (infant food, pet food)
If possible don’t buy foods that create thirst.
If possible keep foods that don’t have to be preserved in the fridge and can be eaten without cooking (cans, biscuits).
Will there be any interruptions to communication services (telephone, internet)?
Currently, there are no indications that any communication services would be disturbed.
Would there be any problems with electricity or heat supply?
Currently, there are no indications of any problems to electricity or heat supply.
Will there be enough fuel?
The fuel supply chains are currently functioning, and operators also have reserve supplies. In addition, the government has 90 day petrol and diesel reserves.
Will there be enough cash?
Yes, cash reserves are sufficient. The Bank of Estonia and commercial banks have reserves which will be supplemented, if necessary. We recommend using digital payment options and card payments.
Should I take cash out?
There is no reason to do so. In the light of the spread of coronavirus, Eesti Pank recommends that people pay by contactless card (contactless payments are particularly sensible to prevent the spread of the virus) or by smartphone wherever possible. Commercial banks have increased the default payment limit to EUR 50 per payment during the emergency situation. People who can link their card to their mobile phone through Apple Pay or Google Pay can also pay more than EUR 50 with their phone.
Be sure to follow hygiene requirements when people have used cash or entered a PIN at a card payment terminal.
What should be taken into account when making food deliveries to people who are quarantined at home?
The following principles should be observed when delivering food at home:
Make sure you are healthy and feel good.
Sanitise or wash your hands before and after shopping.
Products that need to be stored in a refrigerator or freezer will need to be delivered to the client as soon as possible, so they would not get too warm or thaw.
Buy goods from the nearest store so that the delivery would not take too much time.
Do not damage or break the product packaging.
Hand over the goods without coming into contact with the clients.
When handing over the food, keep a minimum difference of 2 metres distance.
How can a person living alone, e.g. an elderly person with no relations, order food and medicines to their home?
First contact should be the local government who helps to organize the delivery of food and medicines to everybody in need of assistance. You can find the contact information of the local governments from the web pages of the rural municipality and city governments.
Additionally there are volunteers that offer their help with delivery of food and medicines. For instance, in the Internet you can find the support environments Hepific and Kogukond aitab.
You can ask for assistance from Helpific by registering a user account on their web page and entering your wish for assistance. If it is not possible to use a computer, you can also ask for assistance by calling (+372) 5660 4642.
You can also enter your wish for assistance on the web page kogukondaitab.ee and leave them your contact information. You can also ask for assistance by calling (+372) 7168 068, from 9-18 o’clock.
Services, allowances and benefits of the Estonian unemployment insurance fund, pension
Are the offices of the Unemployment Insurance Fund open? Which services are cancelled?
The county offices of the Unemployment Insurance Fund have been closed due to the Emergency Situation declared in Estonia. The Unemployment Insurance Fund advises you and accepts applications and questions by phone 15501 or 669 6513, by e-mail [email protected] or via e-channels (Skype: product fund, e-unemployment fund website https://www.tootukassa.ee/). Most activities have been suspended.
Currently only the following activities are being held
online and individual training,
occupational rehabilitation via telephone or videoconference if your rehabilitation team has previously agreed with you.
Where can I register as unemployed and apply for an allowance or a benefit?
If you wish to register as unemployed and apply for an allowance or a benefit, we suggest you do this using our online services (e-töötukassa). We also accept applications via e-mail (digitally signed), regular mail, or telephone.
Applications for work ability assessment and work capability allowance are also accepted via e-töötukassa, e-mail (digitally signed), or regular mail. If needed, we can send the application materials by regular mail.
Will the offices of the Social Insurance Board stay open?
Social Insurance Board offices are closed. Please call the information hotline tel: 6121360 Monday to Friday, from 9:00 to 18:00, and by e-mail [email protected]
How can I apply for a pension under the current circumstances?
To get your pension you must send an electronic application that has been signed digitally by email to: [email protected]
If you want to start to receive your pension from the first day you have the right to do so, you must apply within a nine-month period:
that starts six months before the day you have the right to a pension;
and runs until three months after that date.
For more information see https://www.sotsiaalkindlustusamet.ee/et/pension-toetused/pensioni-taotlemine.
Whom should I turn to if my family is running out of money, because we don’t have work anymore and we don’t know anything about the support schemes?
If your family needs help, contact your local social welfare office.
Where to find help for a person working under a contract for services whose work has currently stopped and who has no income?
If the work of a person working under a contract for services has stopped (the contract has not been terminated but there is no income), we recommend that he apply for a subsistence benefit from the local municipality.
However, if this person’s contract for services has been terminated, this person has the right to apply for an unemployment benefit and an unemployment insurance benefit from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund if he has
worked at least 12 months out of the last 36 months
with a contract under the law of obligations and
lost his job now.
The incapacity to work benefit
Can a doctor issue a sick leave certificate for me even though I am not sick?
If you are healthy, and you have not been in contact with infected persons, the doctor has no cause to issue a sick leave certificate. Monitor your health, if possible, work remotely from home, and limit contacts with other people.
Sick leave certificate can be issued by a doctor if you have come into contact with an infected person. If a child has been in contact with an infected person, the doctor can issue a care leave certificate for the parents. Being in contact with an infected person is considered equal to being sick or caring for a sick child. In this case, you will be paid incapacity compensation based on the usual system. Please note that the incapacity to work certificate can be issued by the doctor only if your employer has officially registered your employment and you have valid health insurance.
What is the amount of paid sick leave and for which days will it be payable? What are the care allowance benefits?
Paid sick leave:
For sick leave days of 1 to 3, the Health Insurance Fund pays the sick leave for all employee certificates of incapacity for work from March to May.
For sick leave days 4-8, the obligation to pay the benefits lies with the employer (also when the Estonian Health Insurance covers the days 1 to 3.) The employer will pay the benefits on the basis of the average wages of the employee. The employer calculates the benefits based on the employee’s average wages over the previous six months, the benefit is 70% of the average wages of the employee.
From day 9 onwards, the sick leave benefit is paid by the Health Insurance Fund, also to the amount of 70% of the employee’s daily income.
Additional information: https://www.haigekassa.ee/en/people/benefits/sickness-benefit]
A certificate for care leave can issued in order to take care of a child under the age of 12, or for a disabled child under the age of 19
The benefit is 80% of the average salary and it is paid from the first day of leave. The Health Insurance Fund pays for up to 14 days of leave but the leave certificate may be extended (but without the additional payment of benefits).
A certificate for care leave can also be issued for attendance of a family member, paid allowance is given for 7 days, payable from the first day of the leave, in the amount of 80% of average wage or salary.
There are also exceptions (a child with a tumour etc): [https://www.haigekassa.ee/en/node/7/care-allowance]
Income tax is deducted from the benefit. Additional information from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund: tel +372 669 6630
If a quarantine were to be declared in Estonia, how would the Incapacity to Work benefits be paid?
If a quarantine were to be declared in some areas or across Estonia, it would, in that case, be possible to pay the incapability to work benefits for people with sick leave certificates issued for quarantine. In that case, three days would be without payment, four to eight. days would be paid for by the employer and beginning from the ninth day, up to a week would be paid-for by the Health Insurance Fund.
Only working people have the right to receive such certificates.
If I am currently unemployed and due to the emergency situation I cannot get a job, am I eligible for incapacity benefit?
No. Incapacity benefit is paid only to people in employment who have a valid health insurance.
How is medical care guaranteed during the time of the virus if I have health insurance in Estonia but am currently in another European Union member state?
People who have health insurance in Estonia and are currently in the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland will be given necessary medical care on equal terms with people living in those countries. Necessary medical care is guaranteed in the case of the coronavirus as well. The need for treatment must be medically justified and this decision is made by a doctor. In order to get necessary medical aid, a person has to carry a European Health Insurance Card or a replacement certificate of the card. If a person does not have the card with him or he has not applied for the European Health Insurance Card or its replacement certificate before the trip, we ask that he apply for a replacement certificate of the European Health Insurance Card immediately upon arriving at the hospital or a doctor. You can find more information at the web page of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund
How is medical care guaranteed to people without health insurance?
During the emergency situation, treatment for the virus is considered emergency care to which uninsured persons are entitled during regular times as well (emergency room, ambulance). If an uninsured person suspects that she might be infected, she can contact the nearest family health centre by phone. From there, a person is sent to testing, if necessary, and is given instructions on how to act upon her health concerns. An invoice is presented to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and the person does not have to pay the fee herself. You can find more info on how to get health insurance from here.
When will the sick leave benefit payments for the first three days come into effect?
The Estonian Health Insurance Fund will compensate for the first three days of sick leave if the incapacity of work certificate has been issued during the emergency situation. The payments will come into effect no later than in May, once the Parliament has approved the additional budget and the Government of the Republic has issued the appropriate order.
Care allowance benefits continue to be paid from the first day of absence.
Additional information on the Estonian Health Insurance Fund website: https://www.haigekassa.ee/uudised/haigekassa-hakkab-eriolukorras-tasuma-esimeste-haiguspaevade-eest
My certificate for sick leave started on March 13 or later, why have I not received the money for the sick days yet?
The Estonian Health Insurance Fund has 30 days after the end fate of the certificate for sick leave to pay the benefits. As modern technical systems are good, the Health Insurance Fund has thus far been able to pay out the benefit within a few days of receiving the correctly submitted documents (the end date of the certificate for sick leave).
Currently, due to the emergency situation, there are more certificates for sick leave than usual and the Health Insurance Fund is also waiting to see what the basis for the payments for sick days 1-3 is going to be. These decisions are made by the government and the parliament.
This is why paying out these sickness benefits (benefits for incapacity for work to the sick person herself) takes more time than usual, but the Health Insurance Fund has promised that they will remain within the 30 days provided by law.
This applies to certificates for sick leave which have started during the emergency situation (e.g. March 13) and those people who thus have a legitimate expectation to receive benefits for the first three sick days as well.
NB! This does not apply to certificates for care leave, certificates for maternity leave, certificates for adoption leave regardless of when they were started. The Health Insurance Fund pays these benefits according to the regular procedure.
Is a person allowed to get a double benefit for the first three sick days (i.e. both the employer and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pay)?
Some employers have already been compensating the first three sick days to their employees.
The Government of the Republic has decided to pay a benefit for the first three days on certificates for sick leave that have been opened during the emergency situation since March 13.
The benefit paid by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund does not depend on whether the employer also compensates the first three days or not. Thus, getting the benefit from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund does not give the employer an automatic right of claim against its employee. Whether the employer asks that the employer pay back the benefit that she has received in double depends on the agreements they have amongst each other.
Work, work-related travel
What kind of different approach should be now used by my employer?
It is of utmost importance that workplaces use disinfectants.
In the offices:
recommended distance between persons is no less than 2 m,
it is important to air the rooms regularly,
clean the surfaces regularly
People who are ill, or have been in contact with infected persons or are vulnerable should be sent home.
Please note! Eployees arriving from abroad are required to stay home for two weeks and monitor their health carefully.
Both parties need to agee to the changes in working conditions, both the employee and the employer.
As of 25 March, 2 metre distance rule applies:
in public places (such as outdoor playgrounds and open air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking and biking trails).
indoor spaces (except at home).
People must keep a distance of at least 2 m from others. Only two people at most can gather in public places. This restriction does not apply to families moving around together and to people in official public functions.
When returning home from a business trip or a secondment, do I have to work from home?
If you are returning home from a secondment or a holiday you will indeed have to remain home for 14 days. This restriction also includes includes exceptions, for example, it does not apply to medical personnel. More information is available from the order of the person in charge of the emergency situation: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/316032020007.
Can the employer establish mandatory leave, unpaid leave, furlough, etc. requiring the employees to remain home without pay?
The most important thing is that when an employee has returned from abroad, the employer and the employee must agree on how to continue working.
The most sensible thing would be to allow the employee to work from home, i.e. to agree on a distance work. If this is not possible, they must reach another agreement. Mandatory leave is not provided for in the Labour Contract Law, but the employer and the employee may come to an agreement that the employee, for example, will stay home for two weeks. If the employee does not work because the employer does not give him work to do, the employer must pay the average remuneration (see Article 35 of the Labour Contract Law).
For unpaid leave, the parties must come to an agreement. If the employee does not agree to unpaid leave, but the employer does not allow them to return to their place of work, then Article 35 of the Labour Contract Law applies.
The employer and the employee can also change the terms of the contract of employment by mutual agreement. For example, they may agree that at the time when the employee is at home and does not work, they will receive a lower remuneration than the contract of employment stipulates. However, the employer cannot make a unilateral decision, the change of terms must be agreed by both parties.
As an employer, I would like to have the freight transport worker who came to Estonia and travelled through many countries to stay at home. However, the employee wants to start work in Estonia and does not agree to stay home. What to do?
The requirement to stay at home does not apply to drivers engaged in the freight of goods, provided they do not have symptoms of illness. The solution must be found by agreement between the employer and the employee. If necessary, the Labour Inspectorate can be consulted and the relevant FAQ is also available on the website of the agency. If the employee doesn’t work, because the employer can’t provide work, the employer must pay average wages under § 35 of the Employment Contracts Act.
A person came back from Thailand and the employer demands they go to work, what should they do? Can they refuse to go to work?
Yes, if a person signed a statement when crossing the border, agreeing to 14-day self-isolation then they cannot go to work. If possible, they can work remotely.
Can I refuse to go to work?
An employee with a work contract has an obligation to work according to the agreed conditions. However, an employee returning from abroad must take into account the recommendations of the Estonian Health Board and remain at home for two weeks. This does not automatically mean that the employee is not required to work. The employee must inform the employer and agree how best to arrange work.
In addition to the above options (remote work, unpaid leave, application of the § 35 and § 37 of the Employment Act) it is possible to agree to use mandated annual leave. If an annual leave schedule has been pre-arranged, changes in annual leave times can only be made if mutually agreed. If the employee does not wish to use the employee’s mandated annual leave, another solution must be found.
How can the employer find out their employees come from another country, and should stay home if the employees do not inform the employer?
As members of the society, we must prevent the spread of the virus and it can only be done together. We all need to keep each other safe and when we are sick, we should not go to work or to a populated place to spread the virus.
If in our community or workplace someone is ill or has come back from a trip since March 17, and believes they do not have to stay home then it is up to us to draw the attention of this person to the fact that not everybody is in perfect health or has a strong immune system, and that is why it is important to prevent the spread of the virus. Conscience is the best means of coercion.
Internal communication and good relations between people are also important in companies and organisations.
How to find a solution when an employer does not provide the opportunity to stay at home with the children now that the state has closed the schools?
In the developed situation, employers and employees need to take each other into consideration and find sensible solutions. If work can be done from home, it should be done from home. If not, the options of paid leave, unpaid leave or finding somebody to help with the children should be considered. At this, the children should not be sent to older people who are in the risk group.
How do I register a stay at home, for example, for home schooling three children?
You should try and find a solution together with your employer.
If a person cannot work remotely because of the nature of the work (real estate management), where can they register this situation and apply for the state support of 70% of wages? Should this be done together with the employer?
It is definitely important to find the optimal solution together with your employer.
More detailed information on the support measures can be found after the relevant decisions have been made by the government and the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Does the state compensate the 30% of wages not received because of a period of sick leave to rescue workers, police officials and ambulance workers?
Everybody is uniformly compensated 70% of wages during the period of sick leave, there have been no exceptions set.
Can I refuse a secondment or a business trip abroad?
The employer is obligated to assess work-related risks when he sends an empolyee to a work-related trip abroad. Therefore, it is primarily the obligation of the employer to assess the risks and take the decision on whether it is possible to avoid sending the employee to a trip.
The employee has the right to refuse or suspend work that
endangers his or other persons’ health, or
would not allow following environmental safety regulations,
by immediately notifying the employer or his representative and the work safety representative.
Thus, if you find that you would be endangering your life or health by going to a work-related trip abroad, you do have the right to refuse to go.
See more in §14(5) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/520032019007/consolide
If and when can § 37 of the Employment Act be used with reference to a reduction in salary for three months, due to economic circumstances beyond the employer’s control?
The spread of Coronavirus is one of the circumstances that allow the employer to reduce the workload and the salary of the employee for three months unilaterally according to § 37 of the Employment Act, if paying the agreed salary is an unreasonably heavy burden for the employer. It is permitted to reduce the salary to the minimum wage as determined by the Government of Estonia (584 Euros per month or 3.48 Euros per hour).
A reduction in the salary is permitted according to § 37 of the Employment Act only under the following conditions:
If the employer is unable to provide work to the employee as previously agreed due to economic circumstances (this doesn’t include seasonal changes in amount of work);
If payment of the agreed salary is an unreasonable burden on the employer. It is not permitted to reduce the salary if the employer does not have enough work for the employee to do, but still has enough liquidity to pay the salary; in this case it is interpreted that there is no real need to reduce the salary.
How will § 37 of the Employment Act be implemented in the case of salary reduction? Can the employee terminate the work contract?
In order to reduce the salary the employer must investigate if it is possible to offer different work to the employee. If there is no alternative work, or the employee does not agree to the work, the employer must inform the trustee of the employees, or in case there is no trustee the employees directly, at least fourteen days in advance. Employees must be given an opportunity to be involved in the decision. The employee must present their opinion within seven days.
If the employee does not agree to a reduced salary, the employee has the right to terminate the work contract, and this must be announced a minimum of five working days in advance. In the event of termination of the work contract, the employee will receive one month’s average salary as compensation, in addition to the contractual final pay, which consists of earned salary and unused vacation pay.
In what cases is redundancy an option?
If it is clear that the situation will not improve and the employer is not able to provide work nor pay a reduced salary, redundancy is an option. Redundancy is an extraordinary termination of the work contract by the employer due to economic reasons, i.e. if following the agreed work conditions is impossible because of a reduced amount of work or the rearrangement of work. Redundancy also happens, when the employer terminates its operation or files for bankruptcy. The employer must present employees with a written termination notice and explain the reasons for termination.
The employer must follow announcement terms according to § 97 point 2 of the Employment Act. The terms are related to the length of the work contract. The employer must announce redundancy at the following times when the employment has been working for the employer:
less than one year – minimum 15 calendar days;
one to five years – minimum 30 calendar days;
five to ten years – minimum 60 calendar days;
ten and more years – minimum 90 calendar days.
The employer must consider that if the termination is announced with disregard of these terms, the employer must pay compensation. In that case the employer will have to pay the average salary for the work days that are within the announcement term that was disregarded. If the work contract ends due to redundancy the employer must pay a redundancy compensation of one month’s average salary in addition to final salary.
Does the employee have the right to say that since schools and kindergartens are closed and children cannot be left unsupervised, they will not come to work for the next two weeks? What kind of salary must the employer pay the employee for this time?
This situation can be seen as the case described in § 38 of the Employment Contracts Act, in which the legislator has mandated that the employer shall pay the employee average wages for a reasonable period when the employee cannot perform work due to a reason arising from the employee, but not caused intentionally or due to severe negligence or if the employee cannot be expected to perform work for another reason not attributable to the employee. However, this situation is permitted only for a reasonable period within which the worker could be expected to arrange for the care of their children and also make their own suggestions for possible changes in the organisation of work.
According to the section 38 of the Employment Contracts Act, the employer may have to pay the employee the average wage for a maximum of the first two days, after which the parties must find a mutually satisfactory solution and conclude an agreement of the parties for the new arrangement such as teleworking, part-time work for a fixed period, annual leave or otherwise. However, under current law, an employee cannot claim an average wage from the employer for the entire period of time at home when the childcare facilities are closed. Both parties must adequately assess what is happening in the country, while also taking into account each other’s interests and thereby find reasonable solutions.
I must go to work, but I have nowhere to leave my children because of the Emergency Situation. From which age can I leave a child alone at home?
There is no specific regulation by the state as to the age a child may be left alone at home. Each case is different and depends on the maturity of the child and surrounding circumstances. It is up to the parent to decide whether to leave the child temporarily alone. In doing so, the parent must be guided by the best interests of the child, assess the maturity of the child and consider possible hazards. It is important that the wellbeing and safety of the child is guaranteed.
In general, a child’s ability to act independently to a certain extent (the child is responsible for his or her behavior; knows what is or is not safe for health; can handle self hygiene) is linked to school age. Leaving kindergarten-age children and smaller children alone should be avoided, as well as being left in the care of an at-home elementary school child for longer periods.
If necessary, it is advisable to ask your relatives for help with childcare (if possible, not older people), and to turn to the local government with questions about the opening hours of kindergartens, care facilities, and other related organisations.
Will the beauty treatment providers and massage parlours be closed? If that is my place of work, should I continue working?
As of March 29, all beauty salons and massage parlours are closed on the Islands of Saaremaa and Muhumaa. In other regions, only salons which operate in shopping centres must remain closed. No such decision has been yet made for other service providers outside shopping centres. Every service provider will assess their risks and will decide whether they can continue working.
We recommend the employees:
talk to your employer
not to go to work when unwell.
Service provider is prohibited from organising workshops, product presentations and other events.
Due to the nature of the work of hairdressing and other beauty treatment services, it is not possible to avoid direct contact with the customer when providing the service. Therefore, in addition to the usual hygiene rules, the beauty treatment service providers could follow these recommendations:
The beauty treatment service provider must monitor their own health and, in the event of disease symptoms, stay at home and stop the provision of services. If it becomes apparent that a client has fallen ill, then the service provider should also stop working.
when establishing the treatment process, it is necessary to ensure that there are as few people as possible at the same time in one room.
the clients should arrive at the service provider for exactly the agreed time to reduce the number of people in the waiting area and excessive contact between them.
more time must be provided between each customer to disinfect carefully the working areas which were in contact with the customer, and to properly air the rooms in which the service was provided.
when entering and leaving the salon, the client should wash their hands with warm water and soap. If possible, hands should be disinfected.
personal protective equipment (protection mask, gloves, if necessary, protective gown) must be used for the provision of the service.
the beauty treatment service provider should refrain from touching their face when providing the service.
we recommend the salons to use card payments. Physical contact should be avoided when transferring cash receipts and cash.
It is recommended not to add product testers to displays.
How should an employee of a large industry, such as a factory, behave around a conveyor belt if he/she exhibits symptoms (cough, sore throat, etc.)? Who to contact and what to do?
If a factory worker exhibits symptoms (cough, breathing difficulties or fever) that may indicate an acute respiratory infection, including coronavirus, he/she should stay at home immediately and contact their general practitioner who will arrange for testing if necessary.
Other members of the workforce should monitor their health and, if symptoms occur, stay at home and contact their general practitioner. In order to protect themselves and others, all members of the workforce should follow hygiene requirements and wash their hands frequently. As of 25 March, in public places (such as outdoor playgrounds and open air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking and biking trails) and indoor spaces (except at home), people must keep a distance of at least 2 m from others. Only two people at most can gather in public places. This restriction does not apply to families moving around together and to people in official public functions.
How can I submit my personal income tax return if I cannot do it electronically?
The deadline for submission of the personal income tax returns of natural persons is April 30, but paper copy returns will be accepted by the Tax and Customs Board also after the deadline, at least until the end of May. The Tax and Customs Board client offices across Estonia are closed and tax returns can be submitted electronically. If you belong to a risk group and you do not have the opportunity submit an electronic tax return at home, do not go to your relatives or friends or invite them to visit you to help with the tax returns. If necessary, the Tax and Customs Board will accept the tax returns at least until the end of May and will not impose any sanctions for exceeding the deadline.
What should be done if the parental benefit ends during the emergency situation but it is not possible to return to work?
When the parental benefit ends, the parent can end the parental leave and return to work. If this is not possible, the circumstances need to be differentiatied according to cause.
If the employer
has no work to provide, he must still allow the employee to return to work and pay her wages even if no work is provided. The employer may reduce the wages but the employee has the right to decline this. If the employer has no work to give in a situation provided by §37 of the Employment Contract Act and the employee cancels the contract, the employee has a right to a redundancy compensation. If the employer does not agree to a reduction of wages, she has the right to cancel the contract and the employer must pay compensation. More information in §35 or 37 of the Employment Contract Act
wishes to make the employee redundant, parents raising a child under three are in a preferential situation. People on parental leave can be made redundant only if the employer stops operating (e.g. a bankruptcy is declared).
What should be done if a person applying for a job in food industry needs to present a health certificate to the employer but the family doctor is not issuing health certificates due to the emergency situation?
The Veterinary and Food Board has developed a health declaration form and co-ordinated this with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health Board.
The form is to be filled out by persons hired by the food industry who do not have a health certificate that meets the requirements or an opportunity to get such a certificate as the family doctors have suspended consultations. The health declaration replaces the health certificate and ensures that food processing companies will not have trouble hiring new employees.
The health declaration is valid until the Parliament adopts a package of laws that enacts the same system, i.e. the use of voluntary health declarations, legally.
Short-term employment of foreign nationals in Estonia during the emergency situation
How long is the short-term employment period in Estonia?
The Government of the Republic intends to submit a proposal to the Parliament regarding the extension of the short-term employment permit until 31 July 2020 for foreign nationals already in Estonia, and working in the agricultural sector or starting work in the agricultural sector. The employer’s economic activity must be plant and livestock farming, hunting or provision of services in the sector (NACE Estonian classification EMTAK a 01). The law shall enter into force only after the approval of the Parliament. Currently there are no special derogations due to the emergency situation, i.e. the normal practice applies.
Short-term employment period is 365 or 270 days. Currently, it is not possible to extend this period.
Additional information from the Aliens´ Act: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/119032019083?leiaKehtiv.
If a foreign national is in Estonia legally and their short-term employment period is over, can they renew their registration with the Police and Boarder Guard Board?
The Police and Border Guard Board re-started registration for short-term employment. Prerequisite for the registration is the legal presence of the foreigner in Estonia, their maximum allowed short-term work period is not yet over, and the employer of the short-term employee is in support of the application. The maximum allowed short-term employment period is 365 days for the period of 455 consecutive days and 270 days for seasonal work for the period of 365 consecutive days. Short-term employment can be registered by the employer at the Police and Border Guard self-service: www.politsei.ee/en.
What happens to those foreign nationals who are staying in Estonia legally but who do not have a job here?
Foreign nationals who no longer have a job in Estonia, we recommend returning to their home country as soon as possible, border crossings and transport permitting. We also ask their current employers to contribute towards their return home after the employment relationship has been terminated.
I am a foreigner and I work in Estonia. The employer informed me that they would no longer be able to pay me the Estonian average salary, but I am still working full-time. Is it legal and allowed?
In the case of a foreigner whose short-term employment is registered or who has a work-based residence permit, for which the salary criterion applies, then currently the Alien´s Act does not provide a legal basis for reducing the payment. If the work is carried out on a full-time basis, the employer shall be obliged to pay the remuneration corresponding to the conditions laid down in the Alien´s Act, otherwise the employer will infringe the remuneration requirement laid down in the Act. In such a situation, the employee can submit a complaint to the Police and Border Guard Board in writing [email protected]
How long can foreign nationals remain in Estonia if their visa or visa-free stay period has expired during the emergency situation?
Foreign nationals, whose visa or visa-free stay period expires, may stay in Estonia until the end of the emergency situation if they were in the country legally as of March 12, 2020 and their return to their home country is hindered. After this they have 10 days to organize their departure from Estonia.
What happens if I am a foreigner and I have already registered my short-term work at the Police and Border Guard Board but I am not currently in Estonia (as at 17 March)?
A foreign national whose short-term work is registered at the Police and Border Guard Board but who was not in Estonia at the time of the restoration of border control, at 17 March, cannot enter Estonia even if they have a right to stay with visa or without visa.
Why did the Police and Border Guard Board suspend the examination of applications for short-term employment?
The aim of suspending the examination of applications and extending existing registration is to save police resources for the management of emergency situation.
Will there be compulsory job referrals for people who have lost their work due to the emergency situation?
No, there will be no compulsory job referrals by the State.
What happens if a person disregards the order and, at the end of the short-term employment period, the foreign national is working illegally (black market)?
Under the Aliens Act, a foreign national can be fined for violating the conditions of employment in Estonia for an amount up to 300 units, i.e. EUR 1200, or can be arrested. The employer’s failure to comply with the conditions of employment of a foreign national in Estonia shall be penalised by a fine of up to EUR 32,000.
Where can the employers file short-term employment applications?
The employer can file short-term employment applications at the Police and Border Guard Board self service site.
Economy and business, banking debt-relief
Which sectors of the economy are in the most trouble right now?
Right now the most critically affected is the tourism industry, which covers travel companies, accommodation, catering, conferences, seminars and events. The next worst hit is transport, and problems will come after some delay to industry and services. In effect the entire private sector will be affected by the situation.
The main problems for companies are:
Liquidity problems from loan liabilities and overdrafts
Staff remaining at home, especially in jobs where remote working is not possible, and the question of who should pay them
Compulsory leave as an alternative to redundancies or part-time working
Inflexible approaches in projects that receive subsidies, as problems may appear later because of EU rules
A negative shock to demand, which is already widely evident
How much will it cost to recover from the downturn?
It is still too early to talk about how much. On top of the state budget and subsidies from the European Union, the government can also borrow in order to fight harder against a downturn in the economy. We could follow the principle that it is necessary to borrow during difficult times. Given the difficult circumstances, there should be no taboo about a larger deficit than earlier in the state budget. The fiscal rules of the European Union should also be loosened so that important investments can be made, especially for countries like Estonia that have earlier had good fiscal discipline.
What are the banks planning to do and how are they helping the companies that are in trouble?
The banks have affirmed their wish to help their customers so that they could cope with the difficult situation. On March 25, the Bank of Estonia decided to lower the systemic risk buffer required of commercial banks from 1% to 0%. This way 110 million Euros is released to the banks, which the banks can use to cover possible loan losses and to issue new loans. The change is estimated to come into force from May 1.
How does the state deal with a situation where a company is unable to pay employees?
The board of the Unemployment Insurance Fund agreed on Wednesday, March 18, that the Unemployment Insurance Fund plans to pay 70 percent of salary within two months to avoid layoffs in affected companies.
According to the plan, companies whose turnover and income have fallen sharply and whose employees have no work will be compensated for 70 percent of employees’ gross income for two months from March to May. Companies must also participate in the compensation themselves.
To be eligible for compensation, a company must meet three conditions:
the company’s turnover must have fallen by at least 30 percent compared to the same period last year;
the company does not have work for at least 30% of its employees;
employees’ salaries have been reduced by at least 30 percent.
Applications can be made by the employer. It is important to note that applications will not be accepted in March, but they will be compensated for March also.
The measure will apply retroactively from 1 March to 31 May. The compensation may be claimed up to two months’ salary for the period chosen by the employer within that three-month period. The measure therefore also applies to workers who have already received notice of redundancy as from 1 March.
It is said that the state plans to support companies through short and long-term aid packages. What exactly are they?
The government adopted a short-term package on March 19. State funds are channelled to support businesses through KredEx and the Rural Development Foundation. The package also includes Unemployment Insurance Fund labour market support, sickness benefits, tax benefits and allows tax arrears to be deferred for 18 months. It also includes the temporary suspension of the second pillar contribution to the pension fund and the partial reimbursement of the direct costs of the cancelled events.
Content of the package:
Additional grants through KredEx. Read more about the services here: https://kredex.ee/en/koroona
Labour market services provided by the Unemployment Insurance Fund to support reduced wages. The total amount is EUR 250 million and is subject to the following conditions:
the benefit is available to any qualifying employer for a period of two months from March to May 2020;
the allowance shall be paid up to a maximum of EUR 1000 per month and per worker;
the allowance shall be payable, as a general rule, at 70% of the gross salary of the employee over the previous 12 months, plus at least EUR 150 gross salary from the employer. The Unemployment Insurance Fund and the employer pay all taxes on wages and allowances.
From March to May, the state will reimburse the employee for the first three days of sick leave for all sick leave certificates.
Rural businesses can apply for a guarantee (up to EUR 50 million), a working loan (up to EUR 100 million) or land capital (up to EUR 50 million) from the Rural Development Foundation.
Advance social tax aid measure will be implemented for self-employed workers.
Pillar II pension fund contributions will be temporarily suspended.
The State will reimburse up to € 3 million of the direct costs of cultural and sporting events that were scheduled between March and April but have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
There are border controls in Estonia. How does this affect trade?
Long queues must be expected when crossing the state border. Vehicles transporting goods internationally and people providing vital services such as healthcare can enter the country and pass through it, as long as they have no symptoms of illness.
Foreigners can use Estonia as a transport corridor to get to their home country if they have no symptoms of the virus. The 14-day isolation requirement does not apply to them if they have no symptoms of the virus. The 14-day isolation requirement does not apply to them if they are passing through the country are passing through the country without delay.
How does the state support businesses that have been struggling to pay taxes?
In order to mitigate the financial situation of companies, the Tax and Customs Board will suspend the calculation of interest on the corporate tax debt during the emergency period, and the exemption will apply retroactively from March 1, until May 1.
As of May 1, the interest rate will be reduced indefinitely from 0.06 per cent to 0.03 per cent. The interest rate can be reduced 100 per cent in the event of deferred tax debt. At the moment, the maximum possible rate of reduction is 50 percent.
The state shall cover the social security contribution advance payments for natural person entrepreneurs during the first quarter of the year, to help them to overcome this difficult situation caused by the crisis. The state will transfer the advance payment of the social security contribution to the advance payment account of the Tax and Customs Board. If the natural person entrepreneur has already made the advance payment, they can use this amount to cover any other tax liability, either immediately or in the future, and may request the payment of these funds to their bank account.
The Tax and Customs Board will be as flexible as possible concerning the debt procedure and recommends that companies start with the deferral process of the tax debt through the Tax and Border Guard Board e-environment in case of problems or otherwise inform their tax authorities of the difficulties. If the tax liability can be paid within a month, it is not necessary to approach the Tax and Customs Board for debt payment deferral. The Tax and Customs Board does not start incurred debt recovery procedure during the emergency situation at the usual rate (e.g. no bank account will be arrested immediately).
If an undertaking wishes to participate in the public procurement process, apply for grants or permits from the state or local government, it is certainly important to defer the debt payment.
Tax debt postponement needs to be managed also when the difficulties are long-term.
All tax returns must be completed and submitted in due time so that the state can assess the real situation of companies and make the right decisions to help them.
Can a company simply not pay taxes?
The answer is no. The suspension of the calculation of interest form tax debt does not mean a general tax exemption. We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone. However, in order to ensure the functioning of the State, it is important that any person who is able to pay tax would still pay. In the current situation, this is more important than ever before.
What should a natural person enterpreneur do?
The state pays advance payments to self-employed persons (natural person entrepreneurs) in the first quarter to cover the social tax in order to help cope with the economic difficulties of the crisis.
The amount of the advance payment of the social security contributions of natural person entrepreneurs in the first quarter shall be transferred to their advance payment accounts in the Tax and Customs Board. If the natural person entrepreneur has already made the advance payment, they can use this money to cover any tax liability either presently or in the future, and they may request to receive it to their bank account.
Both for natural person entrepreneurs and for other taxpayers no tax debt interest calculations will be made within two months, i.e. from March 1 1 March to 1 May, and these interests will not need to be paid later.
If there are problems with payment, natural person entrepreneurs must also submit tax returns correctly, otherwise the State cannot obtain an adequate assessment of the status of entrepreneurs. When a tax debt is incurred, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board recommends the deferral of debt. The payment obligation can be deferred also when the date for payment has not yet arrived, but the tax return has already been submitted.
The calculation of interest from tax debt is suspended from March 1, to May 1. However, this does not mean that the tax should not be paid if it is possible – suspending the calculation of interest does not mean tax exemption.
The natural person entrepreneur needs to take into account that if they suspend their business activities in the Business Register, then their health care insurance will lapse in two months’ time. It would be advisable for people whose health care insurance depends on their activities as a natural person entrepreneur, not to suspend their business activities.
How can businesses obtain up-to-date information regarding tax changes?
The Tax and Customs Office published a website that for information at http://www.emta.ee/eriolukord, where companies will find answers to more common questions and news about tax changes. Information on the web page is constantly evolving.
In Russian, frequently asked questions can be found at https://www.emta.ee/ru/chrezvychaynaya-situacya.
All Tax and Border Guard Board service facilities are still closed due to the emergency situation. For further questions, please contact [email protected] and phone 880 0812. By e-mail, the Board responds within five working days at the latest, and in case of more urgent questions, it is possible to call.
Customs information can be obtained from [email protected] or call: 880 0814
For technical issues and instructions regarding e-MTA, please contact [email protected] or call: 880 0815.
Questions from private customers will be answered by [email protected] and by phone 880 0811.
What additional services will the KredEx Foundation provide to companies affected by crisis? When will these services become available?
The KredEx Foundation package of measures have been developed based on various probable crisis scenarios, and with the aim of helping companies to prevent or mitigate liquidity problems.
Pursuant to the decision of the Government, KredEx Foundation will offer the following new services within the framework of the existing economic package in the following order:
for loan guarantees to offer additional surety for new and existing bank loans. KredEx will receive targeted special purpose support up to EUR 1 Billion euros for loan guarantees.
for revolving business loans in the amount of EUR 500 Million in order to help the companies to overcome liquidity problems caused by the coronavirus, including, where necessary, the re-payment of bank loans.
for investment loans in the amount of EUR 50 Million to provide investment loans to companies so they can overcome problems caused by the coronavirus.
These KredEx measures will become accessible for business in stages. KredEX will start providing revolving loans, investment loans, and loan guarantees of larger amounts once the additional capital has been allocated for KredEx when the additional budget has been approved, and the Parliament has amended the Law on Enterprise Support and State Loan Guarantee. Applications for direct financing will be accepted by KredEx as of April, but disbursements cannot be made before the amendments of the law enter into force. Loan guarantees for smaller amounts have already been issued. More information can be found at: https://kredex.ee/et/koroona
Are banks in Estonia applying uniform principles on how to accommodate individuals and companies in the current situation?
Although some details might differ, according to the Estonian Banking Association, all banks grant grace periods for loans and leasing contracts. In the event of insufficient resources, the banks request both individuals and companies to inform the banks well in advance to avoid defaulting.
What should I do I am if I not able to make loan repayments due to a loss of income?
If the loss of income may cause difficulties in loan repayments in due time and in full, contact your loan provider immediately. Quick action before the indebtedness occurs allows good grounds for reaching an arrangement. Also, it is important to take note your credit history would remain positivite, and no notices will be included to the Estonian Credit Register. Additional information: https://minuraha.ee/et/pangandus/laenud/makseraskustes-kaitumine.
What should I do if I have fallen behind my loan, lease or instalment payments?
The most important thing is to address the problem immediately and contact the loan provider or the leasing company. You need to act fast before the indebtedness occurs, it will provide a good ground for reaching an arrangement. Also, it is important to take note your credit history would remain positive, and no notices will be included to the Estonian Credit Register. Additional information: https://minuraha.ee/et/pangandus/laenud/makseraskustes-kaitumine
What is a grace period (debt standstill) and when can I use it?
Grace period or debt standstill is an agreement with the bank not to repay the principal contributions of the loan during a certain period. Depending on the type of loan and the agreement with the bank or the lender, this may also mean a period of grace from interest payments (e.g. if the income is completely lost). The amount of deferred payments shall be allocated to the rest of the loan period, if necessary, the term of the loan agreement shall be extended. Other terms of the loan agreement are not changed. The duration of grace period is usually 3-12 months for mortgages, 3-6 months for leasing and consumer loans. No service fee is usually charged, or a reduced service fee is charged for contract amendment for grace period. In some cases, depending on the bank’s policy, costs may be added in the form of fees for changing the contract. In specific cases, customer-specific distinctions are allowed. If you are already late with the repayment of the loan and have therefore violated the terms of the contract with the lender, the lender may also refuse the grace period. Grace period or debt standstill can be agreed with the lender and is usually due to temporary income reductions. To explore your options, please contact your lender(s). Additional information (in Estonian): https://www.minuraha.ee/et/pangandus/laenud/makseraskustes-kaitumine.
What can I do to protect my family from the loss of income?
Loss of income, loss of employment or uncertainty about the future may threaten any family. It is therefore important to have a good overview of your or family’s income and expenses, loan liabilities and repayment deadlines, and to consider carefully which expenses can be postponed or cancelled, to survive this difficult period. If you have maintained your income, and it is currently possible, some funds should be set aside for even harder periods to cope with unexpected situations. It would be good to have a financial buffer or some funds for peace of mind which would cover at least 3 months’ expenses, but any amount would soften the impact if an unexpected cost is called for, or due the crisis, income is reduced. Additional information: https://blogi.fin.ee/2020/03/3-lihtsat-sammu-mida-teha-rahaliste-raskuste-uletamiseks-ja-valtimiseks/
Can the bank request additional guarantees for private mortgages due to precarious times in the economy and potential related financial problems?
Mortgage guarantees are agreed in the loan agreement. If the balance of obligations between the parties changes it might give raise to change the terms of the contract and the associated guarantees. However, in a situation that has not been the making of a private individual with a mortgage, it will give no right to require additional guarantees with a reference to a general deterioration in the economic situation.
This regulation is subject to Article 335, paragraph 3 of the Property Law, which states that the mortgage holder may not require additional guarantees or partial payment of the debt if the value of the property which is the main residence of the natural person, decreases due to a change in the market situation.
How do I know what my insurance covers?
The terms of the insurance are provided in the insurance contract, which also indicates the insurance coverage and duration. If any misunderstandings occur, contact your insurance undertaking (if you have signed the contract through an insurance broker or intermediary, you may also contact them). More information can be found here: https://www.minuraha.ee/index.php/et/kindlustus/probleem-kindlustusega
Is it a good idea to take out a bank loan right now?
When taking out a loan, you must be certain that you can repay both the principal and the interest payments of the loan over the following months, and in the future until the loan is fully repaid. It would be advisable to have some reserve savings to cover expenses of at least a few months, loan repayments included, which would help in case something unexpected happens. Knowing that the future is uncertain, a lot of people have to face redundancies or reduction of income, and if you have no savings it might be wise to consider very carefully how the loan repayments could be made in the future, and if it would make sense to postpone the borrowing a little bit.
If it is necessary to take out the loan immediately, it would be a good idea to carry out a thorough stock-taking of your financial situation, and to make sure there will be some savings against unexpected events. Before considering a loan, please look at the FAQs here: https://www.minuraha.ee/index.php/et/pangandus/laenud/intress-ja-muud-laenamisega-seotud-tasud
What kind of debt-relief is available for individuals who have taken out a small loan? What kind of debt-relief is available for individuals who have taken an instant loan or a SMS-loan?
Grace period is available for clients with decreased solvency. The amount of deferred payments shall be added to the remainder of the loan period, and if necessary, the term of the loan agreement shall be extended. Other terms of the loan agreement will not be changed. Usually service fee is not charged when concluding the contract for the grace period, or lower-than-usual fee is charged. In specific cases, customer-specific derogations can be applied. For consumer financing, small loans and leasing finance, the duration of the grace period is usually 3-6 months.
What kind of debt-relief is available for small and medium size enterprises and large companies?
Small businesses can usually apply for a grace period under a simplified procedure, similar to private individuals. Medium-sized enterprises are handled according to their circumstances and the needs of the company.
What kind of debt-relief is available for large companies?
Larger companies are handled on a case-by-case basis, and the opening of KredEx Foundation measures are also to be expected. In co-operation with KredEx Foundation, it is possible to use a proportional loan guarantee (50% of the loan amount) or a fixed loan guarantee (35% of the loan amount). The maximum loan guarantee is EUR 5 Million euros or double the company’s payroll in 2019 including the social tax. However, the initial amount of KredEx measure is only EUR 100 Million. It is possible this amount will need to be increased.
During the recession orders for the construction industry will probably decrease. Could the state itself give more work to the construction companies right now?
On April 2, the government approved an amending budget which also contains an aid package to construction companies so that they would survive in a recession. The construction industry will get 145 million Euros to help them maintain stability on the market.
The role of the state as a contracting entity on the market will be increased already this year but the main payments to companies will be made in the following years. As it is very difficult to accelerate the process when it comes to large infrastructure projects, it is most important to begin with the objects that have already been prepared. Thus, 100 million Euros of the money directed toward the construction industry has been planned as co-financing for building and reconstructing apartment buildings and small residential buildings. Local municipalities will get 30 million Euros for road construction and the Road Administration will get 10 million Euros. 5 million Euros was earmarked for the demolition of abandoned buildings, the budget for demolition support in the already existing building fund of KredEx will increase by that sum.
What kind of assistance is provided to farmers during the emergency?
200 Million euros are allocated through the Estonian Rural Development Foundation to mitigate the economic impact on farmers:
loan guarantees to the agricultural and food sector and for loans already granted to farmers (a total budget of 50 million euros).
revolving business loan to companies operating in rural areas to overcome liquidity problems caused by the outbreak of coronavirus (total budget of 100 million euros).
land capital support for owners of agricultural land for sale-and-leaseback transactions to overcome liquidity problems caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus (a total budget of 50 million euros).
The support measures will be likely to become available from the second half of April. More information about the Estonian Rural Development Foundation can be found on their homepage.
The budget for support measures for the farmer’s replacement service to cover a period of absence, is increased by 0.5 Million euros to ensure that producers will be replaced if the virus spreads. In addition to livestock farmers, also the crop sector is added. This measure is under development.
What kind of changes has the coronavirus outbreak brought to the work order of ARIB and their aid payments?
In order to contain the spread of the virus and protect people’s health, the service bureaus of the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (ARIB) are closed to customers from March 16 to May 1, 2020. All communication between ARIB and customers and co-operation partners takes place either by phone, by e-mail or by regular mail.
On the spot checks have been suspended. Because of this, the aid payments that are tied to on the spot checks are delayed until the situation normalizes. ARIB is trying to continue making aid payments as much as the situation allows.
Due to the emergency situation, the processing deadlines are flexible.
Public events are forbidden due to the emergency situation, thus the information days organized by the beneficiaries of aid will not take place.
If you have any questions, call the ARIB hotlines 737 7679 (area and animal aid), 737 7678 (investment aid), 731 2311 (Register department) or send an e-mail to [email protected]
More information on the web page of ARIB.
Is it possible to perform transactions at a notary, e.g. purchase and sale transaction of immovable property, without the physical presence of the transaction parties?
Videoconferencing is the only way to perform notarial acts remotely and all parties of the transaction have to agree to the use of these means. It is not possible to get married or divorced over a video conference but it is possible to submit an application for marriage or divorce.
If you wish to perform a notarial act by remote authentication, you need to pay attention to the following:
You have to agree with the notary beforehand on what the transaction is that you wish to have authenticated remotely and when would be a good time to do it. You can come to this agreement either directly with the notary or through the online self-service notar.ee.
In order to perform a transaction with remote authentication, the parties need to have computers that have web cameras and microphones, ID cards and card readers or Mobile-ID for giving a digital signature.
Remote authentication only works with the Google Chrome browser and the internet connection of the client has to be good enough for a video call.
In order to perform this act you need to log into the self-service on the web page of notar.ee.
What should animal keepers know regarding the coronavirus?
After contact with animals, hands need to be washed with soap and water. Complying with elementary hygiene requirements also helps to protect from different regular bacteria, like E.coli and salmonella, that can transfer from animals to humans.
An employee of a meat processing company, a veterinary carrying out checks of animals and food in the market, a market employee and an employee working with live animals on a farm and processing animal products should, in addition to frequent hand washing, turn additional attention to the following:
Work clothing and gloves should be used when handling animals and fresh meat.
The equipment used and the work station should be regularly disinfected (at least once a day).
Protective clothing should be removed and washed at the end of work. It is recommended that the work clothes/protective clothes and other work equipment be kept at the place of work and washed on site.
More information on the web page of the Veterinary and Food Board.
Additional measures for limiting the spread of the virus on Saaremaa and Muhumaa
The person in charge of the emergency situation instituted additional restrictions to movement on Saaremaa and Muhumaa from March 30. For what reasons is it allowed to leave your home at all now on Saaremaa and Muhumaa?
Everyone must remain at home on Saaremaa and Muhumaa. It is only allowed to go outside for unavoidable urgent reasons and near your home:
to go to the grocery store;
to go to the pharmacy;
to go to the doctor;
to walk your pet, to bring your pet to the veterinarian and back home;
to go to the post office and/or the parcel terminal;
to go to a walk or a workout with your family or with one other person;
to bring you children to the kindergarten and back home from there;
if necessary, to take care of the elderly, the disabled and those in need of help (while using personal protective equipment);
to go to work if it is not possible to distance work;
to do gardening, forestry and farm work at home (it is allowed to drive from home to the summer house and back);
to fish. Persons moving outside must carry a personal identification document (ID card). No more than two people can move around together, except for families and those carrying out public functions. People must keep a distance of 2 metres between each other when moving. Exception is also made for people performing urgent tasks, like telecommunication maintenance workers etc. in whose case the necessary precautions and the characteristics of their tasks require employing more than two persons at a time.
Which stores and service providers will stay open on Saaremaa and Muhumaa from Sunday, March 29?
These will stay open:
grocery stores (is they also sell other goods, they can keep selling them, e.g. clothing, cosmetics, kitchen utensils, detergents);
points of sale of telecommunications companies;
stores that sell or rent technical aids (wheelchairs etc.) and medical devices;
optician’s and eyewear stores;
construction stores for so-called selling through the window (the sales area must be closed) and from the storeroom, so that the working of the technical systems at homes would be guaranteed (if there is a need to buy equipment, if there is a leak in the pipes etc.)
What stores and service providers must be closed from Sunday, March 29?
All stores that are not grocery stores, eyewear and optician’s stores, gardening stores, construction stores (under special conditions) and stores that sell or rent technical aids (wheelchairs etc.) and medical equipment must be closed. Grocery stores are stores that sell food, regardless of their size, including cheese stores, butcheries etc. Alcohol stores are grocery stores under the law. Markets must be closed. The owners and employees of stores are allowed to keep going to their work places and work there, so that e-commerce could continue. The owners and employees can also go to pet stores, for instance, to feed the pets that are there.
Which services are permitted, which services are prohibited on Saaremaa and Muhumaa Islands as of March 29?
It is prohibited to provide any services that require close contact, such as
beauty treatments and personal services (e.g. hairdresser, manicure, pedicure, cosmetics, tattoo and solarium services);
massage is allowed only for therapeutic purposes.
Provision of services where there is no close contact between the customer and the service provider may remain open. The appropriate hygiene rules must be observed, and, as far as possible, work should be done remotely.
The provision of social welfare and health care services, soup kitchens, food aid, care services, services for disabled children and adults, all treatment and rehabilitation services are still allowed.
Can people visit restaurants, cafes and other catering establishments in Saaremaa and Muhumaa under the movement restriction conditions?
Restaurants, cafes and other catering establishments cannot serve food and beverages for consumption on the spot.
Food can be sold 24/7 but only as take-out and for food deliveries.
Will libraries remain open?
No, all libraries must be closed to visitors. If the employees cannot do distance work, they can do cataloguing, organising the collections and other such necessary tasks on site in the libraries, following the general hygiene requirements.
Can people go to work if they are not sick?
They can if it is not possible for them to do distance work. The employers must give their employees the opportunity to do distance work if it is at all possible.
Why was it necessary to implement additional restrictions to Saaremaa and Muhumaa?
The important thing is to save the health and lives of people and stop the spread of the virus. The number of registered infections on Saaremaa, as of the morning of March 28 (217), is almost as big as the whole of Tallinn and Harju County (220). The population of the two counties differs 20-fold. That is what made it necessary to deal with Saaremaa separately. There is a big centre of infection at a care home on Saaremaa, people who perform critical services are starting to get infected and this poses a risk to the continued provision of critical services. The Government Commission found that it is necessary to enforce the adopted measures in a clearer way and make the monitoring stronger on Saaremaa.
How is the adherence to the restrictions to freedom of movement monitored?
The police are checking that the restrictions are being followed, patrolling on the streets, monitoring that people would not gather and informing everybody of the restrictions to movement and the necessity to stay home as much as possible. The police are making spot checks of people moving outside. People who break the terms of the restriction will be brought to justice. 10 additional police patrols will start work on Saaremaa. If the two first days after the additional restrictions have gone into force show that the police will require extra force, the defence forces and the Estonian Defence League will be included in the patrols.
How large is the punishment for violating the restriction to freedom of movement?
It is possible to issue a penalty payment of €2000 for violating the restriction to freedom of movement. If necessary, the police will use direct coercion against a person. The police will do this when, for instance, an infected person is moving around in a public place.
Can an entrepreneur be penalised when they do not comply with the restrictions imposed by the head of the emergency situation?
A coercive fine up to EUR 9600 can be imposed on a legal person, unless it is stipulated otherwise in the emergency order.
The coercive fine means the enterprise has been given an official instruction to obey the order. For example, if a store which should not be open, is found to be open, the police will instruct the business operator to close the store within a certain time. If the business operator fails to comply with this order, the coercive fine may be imposed.
The purpose of the coercive fine is to guarantee the instruction are obeyed.
What are the rights of the Estonian Defence League and Estonian Defence Forces when performing patrol duties compared to the police?
The Estonian Defence League and the Estonian Defence Forces support the police in their activities and have the same powers. This means that they have the right to use physical force, specific equipment or weapons to eliminate the disturbance.
The Defence League will support the police protecting the public order, police patrols include a member of the Defence League, and a police officer.
Will the additional restrictions imposed for Saaremaa and Muhumaa Islands also lead to changes in movement restriction rules between Saaremaa and the mainland Estonia?
No, the movement restriction rules between Saaremaa and mainland Estonia do not change.
How long will the additional restrictions imposed on Saaremaa and Muhumaa islands last?
All restrictions for Saaremaa and Muhumaa islands are valid until they have been amended.
The need for amendment of the restrictions will be assessed every two weeks.
Does the Government intend to provide special support for Saaremaa, as the restrictions are harsher than elsewhere in Estonia?
Yes. The government takes into account that restrictions have a significant impact on Saaremaa’s economy and people’s well-being and provides greater assistance to the county.
Can the gardening side of those stores on Saaremaa and Muhumaa that can be considered both construction and gardening stores remain open to customers?
Yes, if the gardening side can be separated from the construction store, the display of gardening goods can remain open to customers.
The requirements of keeping a distance of at least 2 metres and moving alone or with only one other person must be adhered to.
The sale of construction goods in stores like that are only allowed “through the window”, which means that the customers are not permitted to enter the premises of the store to carry out the purchase.
Is it possible to implement special measures in order to protect a certain area from an influx of people from other places? In this particular case the question is about the Old Believers community by Lake Peipsi with many elderly people?
As a general principle, the implementation of these kinds of restrictions is left to the government or the person in charge of the emergency situation, to guarantee a country-wide uniform approach to solving the emergency situation.
The Viimsi local government, however, restricted movement to the small islands within the administrative territory of Viimsi municipality, so it is possible for a local municipality to implement their own special measures.
The Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, and the Estonian Farmers Federation have raised the issue of migrant labour as the seasonal farm work cannot be postponed and workers are hard to find.
During the emergency, all foreign nationals (with one exception) are subject to the same short-term employment rules as before the emergency situation.
It is not possible for a foreign national to enter Estonia for short-term work due to the emergency situation.
Foreigners currently staying in Estonia
A foreign national staying in Estonia legally may continue working here under the same conditions as before the declaration of the emergency situation.
If they have not exceeded their period of maximum stay, they may continue working in Estonia at the employers´ request who will register the short-term employment of a foreign national with the Police and Border Guard Board.
Equally they cannot extend their short-term employment if they have already used up maximum time permitted of their short-term employment period.
Under the Aliens Act, a foreign national legally staying in Estonia may work here for up to 12 months over a 15-month period, and in the case of seasonal work for 9 months over a 12- month period. The precondition is that the employer is willing to employ the foreign national and will register their short-term employment at the Police and Border Guard Board.
Due to restrictions on entry into Estonia, the Police and Border Guard Board will only examine applications for the registration of short-term employment of foreign nationals submitted by employers for foreign nationals currently staying in Estonia. Therefore, applications for short-term employment of foreign nationals will not be processed, if they are currently not in Estonia.
The Estonian Unemployment Fund is ready to facilitate connecting the job seekers and employers in Estonia: job offers can be published at web-portal: www.tootukassa.ee , and for finding temporary employment we advise to use the virtual employment fair: toomess.ee/ajutinetookoht.
For advice and assistance, you can contact an employment consultant of your county. Their contacts are available at the website of the Estonian Unemployment Fund.
Why has the state not stressed thus far that in some cases a regular person should wear a mask in populated places?
The recommendations of the state depend on what the current situation is and what measures are the most expedient at that moment in time. We have now reached the stage of the outbreak where the virus has found its way from single cases and local pockets of infection to everywhere. This means that there might be people moving about who do not know that they are carrying the coronavirus. That is why it is necessary to take up further protection measures, including covering your nose and mouth in populated public places. At the same time there is still a lack of personal protective equipment in Estonia, which is why it is important to leave the medical masks and respirators to health care workers, caretakers and social workers who come into direct contact with people infected with the coronavirus.
The main thing is still to stay home, wash your hands, follow other hygiene rules and keep a distance with other people when moving about.
It is important to realize that every opportunity, even a small one, to reduce the possible spread of the virus with your own behaviour brings us closer to a time when life can go back to its regular path.
Movement between the islands and the main land
What are the restrictions on movement between the mainland of Estonia and the islands and the distinctions of these restrictions?
In order to protect the people of the islands from coronavirus, restrictions on movement apply to the islands of Hiiumaa, Saaremaa, Muhumaa, Vormsi, Kihnu and Ruhnu at their own request. The basis for the restrictions is order nr 30 of the person in charge of the emergency situation (https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/517032020007/consolide) However, the order does provide some exemptions.
According to section 1 of the order, the restrictions do not apply to the following persons:
persons who need to leave a territory subject to the restriction on movement on the basis of a decision of a physician or a member of an ambulance crew;
persons who are not symptomatic and who are transporting raw materials and goods to a territory subject to the restriction on movement;
persons who are not symptomatic and who are transporting from a territory subject to the restriction on movement goods produced in the territory subject to the restriction on movement;
persons who are not symptomatic and who are permitted to leave or enter a territory subject to the restriction on movement based on a police officer’s decision;
persons who are not symptomatic and who want to enter a territory subject to the restriction on movement in order to provide there health services or other services necessary for responding to an emergency;
persons who are not symptomatic and who are transporting medical samples from a territory subject to the restriction on movement;
persons who are not symptomatic and who want to attend the funeral of a close relative;
persons who are not symptomatic and who are driving a public transport vehicle upon providing public transport services;
persons whose place of residence is within a territory subject to the restriction on movement but whose place of employment is outside the territory subject to the restriction on movement, for going to work without the possibility of returning to their place of residence until the restriction on movement is revoked;
asymptomatic persons whose place of residence is outside a territory subject to the restriction on movement but whose place of employment is within a territory subject to the restriction on movement, for going to work without the possibility of returning to their place of residence until the restriction on movement is revoked.
To avoid close contact, passengers on ferries that have open car decks should stay in the car or bus. The restriction is in effect until the order is changed. The necessity for extending the restrictions is re-evaluated every two weeks. Anyone, who does not adhere to the rules on the restriction of movement, is subject to a fine of up to 2000 euros.
May I leave the island if my permanent/registered place of residence is on the mainland?
Yes, if your permanent place of residence is on mainland, you can leave the island. You can return to the island once the restriction on movement ends.
Can a person leave the island when their permanent place of residence is not registered on the mailand but they live there permanently?
Yes, but they would need to prove the existence of a permanent place of residence on the mainland, if possible.
How can I prove that I live on an island if I have not registered it as a place of residence in the population register?
Police officials are checking movement to the islands according to the population register.
If you use several residences for living, you have to register these other residences in the population register as additional addresses. It is possible to check and, when necessary, update residency information at the web address rahvastikuregister.ee. An existence of an additional address in the population register does not automatically guarantee access to the island. In order to get a special permit, an application needs to be submitted to the Police and Border Guard Board e-mail address [email protected] If the Police and Border Guard Board approves the application, a notification will be made to a relevant database where the patrol can see it, and the applicant will also be notified that the permit has been granted.
Is it possible to go back and forth to the mainland for work?
No. You can’t go back and forth. You can either move to the mainland or to the island once. Only persons providing vital services can travel back and forth.
How may I get a special authorisation to leave the island?
An exception is made for those needing to travel in order to help resolve the crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 virus. Travel is also permitted for those transporting goods and raw materials and providing public transport services, so that the economy may continue to function. Those who live within the affected area are also permitted to travel home.
For a special permit, you have to submit an application to the Police and Border Control Board (PPA) by e-mail: [email protected] If the PPA approves your application, they will also make note of it in a database that is visible to the patrol officers and applicant will also be notified.
Is it possible to get from the island to the mainland to visit the doctor?
According to Section 2 (1) of an order issued by the person in charge of the emergency situation, persons whose exit from the restricted area is deemed necessary by a doctor or emergency service brigade member can leave the island.
Is it possible to get from the island to the mainland to visit a notary?
Can a person from Saaremaa Island travel to Tallinn for their prescription medication?
For exceptional cases which have not been included in the list of exemptions, a police official will make a decision to allow the person to travel from the island to mainland Estonia, and back. In these exceptional cases the person has to be able to provide proof of the emergency. The decision regarding allowing the person to travel is at the discretion of the police official.
Prescription drugs can also be bought by someone else. To this end, the buyer must be provided with the personal identification code of the patient. Local government social worker can be of assistance, and or arrange for the delivery of prescription drugs to the island.
If one parent is with a child on the island and the other parent is on the mainland, what is the best way to get the child across?
The order does not provide exceptions for children, which means that children too have one opportunity to travel home, whether that home is on the island or on mainland.
Is it possible for someone registered as living in Finland to travel from the island to work in Finland?
Yes, that is possible. That person can leave the island for the mainland and then go to Finland. They can also travel back to Estonia, but they won’t be allowed back on the island.
Can adult children with special needs who are not able to cope on their own be taken to Saaremaa by a parent who lives in Saaremaa if the child is registered in Tallinn?
If a person lives in multiple places, they should add the other place of residence as an additional address in the population register. This can be done at rahvastikuregister.ee.
For that confirmation you should submit an application to the PPA at the following e-mail address: [email protected] If PPA approves the application, they will make note of it in a database that is visible to the patrol officers and applicant will also be notified.
Do I have to stay at home for 2 weeks if I travel from Saaremaa to the mainland or Hiiumaa?
You do not if you have not had any contact with a person infected with the coronavirus.
If you are symptomatic, stay home. This applies, whether you are suffering from the coronavirus, the flu, a cold or a stomach virus.
Is it possible to move from the island to the mainland to carry goods across?
Yes, if this is the official transport of goods. The vehicle must contain as few people as possible.
How can I go to my home on the island, if I have registered my other home on the mainland Estonia as my place of residence? Changing the place of residence in the Population Registry takes time because it requires the approval of the local government.
If people are travelling to the islands, due to the restrictions on movement, their place of residence is verified by the police from the Population Register database. If you have more than one home, you can register the other home as your second address. This can be done on the website: http://www.rahvastikuregister.ee. Registering the additional address in the Population Register does not guarantee access to the islands. In order to be able to go to your home on the islands, you will need to apply for a special permit from the Police and Border Guard Board. Please submit your application at [email protected] If your application is approved, then a note will be added to the database. You will be also notified of the issuance of the special permit.
NB! You can only return from the island after the movement restriction has been ended. You cannot travel back and forth.
Our family lives in Tallinn, but one of the members of the family has their place of residence registered on an island. Are the other members of the family allowed to go with them to the island?
Police officers are verifying the movement to the islands by using the data from the Population Register database. The members of the family are not allowed to go to the island, if the database shows their place of residence is not on the island.
If your family members have more than one address, you need to add your second address to the Population Register. This can be done on the website: https://www.rahvastikuregister.ee.
Registering the additional address in the Population Register does not guarantee access to the islands. In order to go to the islands you will need to apply for a special permit from the Police and Border Guard Board. Please submit your application to [email protected] If your application is approved, then a note will be added to the database, and it can be verified by the police. You will be also notified of the issuance of the special permit.
Information line said that everybody going to the island should now remain at home for 14 days when they get there. Is that true? /../
/../ If so, who should someone turn to for help in managing with their daily essentials such as food, first-aid equipment and medicines? This is somebody who lives in a farm, where the nearest population centre and shops are 7 km away and there are no permanent neighbours.
This is not correct. If a person who arrives on the island does not have any symptoms of the disease and has not arrived from a foreign country, it is not necessary to self-isolate for 14 days. The Social Welfare department of the local government can be approached for additional information.
Are there exceptions to restrictions to freedom of movement for members of the Defense Forces? My registered place of residence is on the island, and I am going to a base on the mainland. Will I be able to return to the island later?
No, you may leave the island and go to the base but you will not be allowed back on the island.
Can a Latvian citizen get a special permit to go to work on an Estonian island?
The special right does not extend to going to work on the islands because the order of the Government Committee that went into force on March 14 prohibits movement between the larger islands and the mainland. The general principle is that movement of persons guaranteeing the provision of critical services and transport of goods is allowed. It is also allowed to return to your place of residence which means that a person who is Latvian citizen can leave the island but then cannot return anymore.
For example, can mobile communication company representatives go to Saaremaa for repair work (mobile tower technical repair)? Are mobile communications considered vital services?
Yes, mobile communications are considered vital services. When the government decided to restrict movement to the island, it also stipulated that a person without symptoms, whose aim is to ensure the functioning of a vital service on the restricted territory, can travel to the island.
Vital services are:
natural gas supply;
liquid fuel supply;
ensuring the operability of national roads;
mobile phone service;
data transmission service;
digital identification and digital signing;
emergency medical care;
ensuring operability of local roads;
water supply and sewerage.
How is entry into the islands checked in the case of personal watercraft and small harbors?
Within Estonian maritime borders, the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre of the Police and Border Guard Board is following the movements of watercraft. The centre has the right to get information on the craft’s movement and goals.
If the watercraft does not have a radio transmitter and the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre is not able to contact it, the centre can send a police patrol to meet the craft at its target port. The police will then specify the circumstances of the craft’s trip.
Additionally, the Police and Border Guard Board’s ships are patrolling around the West Estonian archipelago and have the right to stop watercraft and specify the circumstances of the trip.
Fishing and other work are allowed on the sea. For instance, it is allowed for a fisherman to go out on the sea and to return to the same point.
We are counting on people’s understanding and cooperation regarding the restrictions.
Why do the restrictions not apply for all Estonian islands?
The restrictions have been set for islands that wished for them themselves.
Can I go to a summer house on an island if it is registered to a company and not my registered place of residence?
If the summer house has not been registered as your place of residence in the population register but you do reside there, the address of the summer house should be registered as an additional address in the population register. An additional address is registered if another residence is used for a longer term or from time to time. This can be done on the web page http://www.rahvastikuregister.ee. An additional address in the population register does not mean automatic entry to an island. To be allowed on an island, you have to submit a freeform substantiated application to the Police and Border Guard Board e-mail address [email protected] If the Police and Border Guard Board approves the application, there will be a notification made to a relevant database. You will also be notified of the permit being granted.
Travelling abroad from Estonia
May I cross the border?
It is not advised to travel abroad right now but it is not forbidden. Definitely weigh the necessity of the trip. Travelling for tourism is not sensible.
If the trip is urgent, consider the following.
Before going abroad get to know the conditions for entering the country of destination: find out whether you will be allowed into the country. If in doubt, contact the Border Guard of the destination country.
If you have to go through any other countries to reach your destination, find out the transit rules of those countries as well.
It is not possible to use the special flights that are bringing Estonian residents home for travelling abroad.
Take into account that in order to limit the spread of the corona virus, the states can unexpectedly restrict the conditions for entering their country and moving around there. You can get stuck in quarantine abroad and getting home could be very complicated, sometimes impossible.
Is there risk of infection when travelling by bus or aeroplane?
Yes. When you take a bus or plane abroad, you have to spend hours in a closed space with strangers, which means that there are favourable conditions for indirect contact (airborne) infection.
If an Estonian citizen has been working abroad and now arrives home, he/she must remain at home under current instructions. Does the Police and Border Guard Board /…/
/…/ prevent a person from leaving the country if he/she wishes to leave the country during 14 days? On what basis?
In this case, if the person is returning home from their place of work in a foreign country, they are now subject to quarantine, and are obliged to stay at home:
Under the order of the Government Committee, people entering Estonia must stay at home for 14 days.
If a resident of Estonia leaves the country and returns to Estonia the same day, they must remain home for the period of 14 days;
The 14-day obligation to stay at home does not apply to Estonian people who work in Latvia and vice versa. More exact rules at https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation;
Obligation to self-isolate means the person will have to remain at their place of residence for 14 days, foreign nationals will have to remain at their place of stay for the same time period, and to avoid any social contacts;
If the obligation to self-isolate is not fulfilled, a penalty payment can be administered, hopefully penalty payments can be avoided when everybody follows common sense.
Movement restrictions apply to persons with symptoms of disease, as this will limit the spread of the virus. The order of the person in charge of emergency situation on the requirement to remain at home is here: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/519032020003/consolide.
Can I still travel abroad by bus if needed?
We strongly advise you against going abroad. If travelling abroad is absolutely essential, please note that when travelling abroad by bus, you have to be in the same enclosed space with strangers for several hours, which means that there are favourable conditions for the spread of droplet infection through the air. When a person returns to the country, then as of March 17, all the people entereing Estonia will need to remain in self-isolation at home.
We encourage those travellers who wish to leave or have to do so to return quickly. At a later stage, this may no longer be possible as the situation is changing rapidly. If you are confident that you will be able to deal with the crisis abroad, follow the instructions of the local authorities. Be sure to check the validity of your visa or other basis for stay.
If the host country has closed its borders and/or international transportation is not working, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at [email protected] (include your personal details and the description of the problem) or the Estonian Embassy so that we can give you further guidelines.
Will ships continue to sail between Estonia and Finland or Estonia and Sweden?
Some sailings will continue, but you should check with the ship operator whether a specific sailing will happen. It must be remembered that border controls will be in place in the port from 17 March so a travel document will certainly be needed, and that there will be restrictions on entry to the country.
Can I travel from Estonia to Russia after March 18? Which changes were introduced March 30?
As of March 18, at 00:00, the Russian borders were closed to citizens of other states and to stateless persons. The border may be crossed only by the following persons, if they show no symptoms of the disease:
Employees of diplomatic and consular representations, who reside in Russia, and their family members;
truck drivers, involved in international freight transportation;
crew members of airlines and shipping companies;
railroad crew members involved in international railway transport;
members of official delegations;
persons holding diplomatic or service visas, or persons with a regular visa due to the event of death of a close relative;
persons, who permanently reside in the Russian Federation;
Restrictions in force as of March 30:
foreign nationals (including Estonian citizens and residents) can leave Russia;
Russian citizens residing in Estonia are allowed to return to Russia, but they can only come back to Estonia after Russia has lifted their restrictions.
Russian citizens and Russian residents whose permanent place of residence is in Russia, are allowed to return to their place of residence.
no new changes were implemented regarding international freight transport.
For additional information about crossing the Russian border, please contact the information hotlines of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: +7(495) 587 88 60, +7(499) 244 19 77, +7 (499) 244 19 88, +7(499) 244 28 47.
How will travelling to Finland and working there be organised?
Due to restoring border checks, the conditions for entering Finland changed as of 19 March, but all those persons, who have a residence permit in Finland, will still be able to enter the country.
Transit – at international airports and ports, transit through Finland is still permitted. For example, from the Vantaa Airport or the Port of Turku you can still freely and independently travel to the Port of Helsinki, to get on a ferry headed for Tallinn. No additional documents (except a ferry ticket) are required. At the border crossing, a person’s information will be checked in databases (the border control information system, the civil registry), to make the necessary connections.
Travelling home through Finland – According to the latest information, Estonian citizens and permanent residents coming from further locations can still come back home through Finland after 22 March as well. Transit through Finland’s international airports and ports is still permitted. For example, from the Vantaa Airport or the Port of Turku you can still freely and independently travel to the Port of Helsinki, to get on a ferry headed for Tallinn. No additional documents are required, but you should be prepared to show the airline carrier proof at the start of your travel (for example, a ferry ticket) that the final destination is Estonia.
Finland is enacting its own requirements, restrictions and exceptions to entering the country. Information on cross-border rules can be found on the web page of the Finnish Border Guard: https://www.raja.fi/ajankohtaista/ohjeet_rajanylitykseen.
Can I travel from Estonia to Finland?
This depends on whether you are among the persons allowed to travel to Finland currently.
People allowed to enter Finland:
Estonian citizens with a right of residence registered in Finland;
People performing essential tasks (with a permanent employment contract), such as health and rescue workers, caregivers of elderly people and freight transporters.
People travelling due to the essential nature of their work must show their permanent employment contract at the border in order to prove their need to enter the country. Finnish border authority will make a decision regarding the entrance to the country.
All persons arriving in Finland need to remain in self-isolation for 14 days.
NB! As of Saturday, April 11t until May 13, passenger transport will be suspended on the Tallinn-Helsinki route. This is due to the decision of the Finnish Government to extend the existing border crossing restrictions until May 13. Shipping companies were advised to stop selling tickets to regular passengers from Tallinn to Helsinki from April 11 until May 13, and Tallink, Viking Line and Eckerö Line have stopped selling tickets on their websites on this route. Finnair has announced that their flights between Tallinn and Helsinki take place according to need – more information will be available from Finnair. Freight transport with Finland continues in both directions, as well as passenger transport from Helsinki to Tallinn.
What to consider when travelling with a pet?
Firstly, consider that travelling in not recommended right now. Many countries have set restrictions to crossing their border due to the spread of the coronavirus. Therefore, before going on a trip with a pet, find out what conditions currently apply in the country of destination and the transit country or countries.
Information on travel restrictions from the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
More information on travelling with a pet from the web page of the Veterinary and Food Board.
Crossing the Estonian border
Who is allowed to cross the border?
Crossing the state border to enter into Estonia is allowed to a person who has Estonian citizenship, an Estonian residence permit or a right of residency, or whose permanent place of residence is in Estonia according to the population register.
The border can be crossed with an EU citizen’s right of stay or a visa only if the person is asymptomatic and is:
a worker at a foreign diplomatic representation or a consular office, or their family member, or a foreigner arriving to Estonia in the framework of international military cooperation;
a person who is directly involved with transporting goods or raw materials;
a person offering health care services or other services necessary for solving the emergency situation.
Exceptionally, the Police and Border Guard Board may give permission for crossing the border to enter into Estonia to a foreigner:
who is asymptomatic and whose child or parent or spouse is an Estonian citizen or a person holding an Estonian residence permit or right of residency. Other connected persons, i.e. grandmother, aunt or life partner are not covered by the exception;
who is asymptomatic and in whose case permitting entry into the country is substantiated on the basis of a special application, i.e. persons who are assisting travel groups and are directly involved in providing the service of passenger transportation.
persons who are allowed to cross the state border with the goal of reaching their home country (transit).
See more in order no 78 of the Government from March 15, 2020 (https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/517032020004/consolide).
Who is subject to a restriction on freedom of movement for a period of 14 calendar days when entering Estonia?
All people who do not fall under any exemptions must self-isolate.
The 14-day restriction on movement does not apply to those entering Estonia, who do not exhibit symptoms of illness and who are:
Employees or family members of foreign diplomatic representations in Estonia or consular institution employees or their family members or foreigners entering Estonia within the framework of international military cooperation;
persons, who are directly involved in the transport of goods or raw materials;
persons, who are directly involved in international passenger or commercial freight, including crew members of international transportation services;
persons, who are providing services to travelling groups and are directly involved in the provision of passenger freight services;
health care workers or other persons essential to resolving the emergency situation;
persons, who are crossing the Estonian border with to reach their country of residence;
persons, whose border crossing objective is to move to work or return home from Valga to Valka and vice versa;
persons, to whom the Police and Border Control Board has given permission to enter Estonia based on a special application.
What is the ‘restriction of movement confirmation’?
The ‘restriction of movement confirmation’ is a document that a person entering Estonia signs at the border. The signature is confirmation that the person is
aware of the restriction on movement and
obligated to stay at their residence or place of stay for 14 calendar days.
The person signing the document also includes their personal and contact information, as well as the address of the residence or place of stay. If the address provided at the border changes during the obligation to not leave that address, the Police and Border Control should be notified by e-mail at: [email protected]
If a person has signed at the border confirming the restriction of movement, but the person belongs to the group of exceptions or the restriction has been lifted by a later order – how to get around the obligation to restrict movement?
Send your first and last name, personal identification code, address, telephone number with the reason for deregistration to [email protected]
Will I be sent back from the border if I am ill?
If you are an Estonian citizen or resident, you will not be sent back from the border even if you have symptoms of illness. Also, those foreign citizens, whose family member resides in Estonia, will also be allowed to enter the county.
At the border
your travel documents will be checked, as well as your reason for entering the country and
the state of your health will be visually checked.
All those coming from abroad must stay at home or at their place of stay for 14 days.
How long will restrictions on entering the country remain in effect?
Restrictions on entering the state entered into force on 17 March and their necessity is being reevaluated every two weeks. For more information, click here.
What happens if a person succeeds in entering the country by avoiding border checks? What happens if he or she has symptoms of coronavirus?
The reintroduction of border controls means that the current Estonian-Latvian border with free movement must not be crossed outside the temporary border crossing points. Even Estonian citizens who cross the border illegally may receive a punishment and in the case of a foreign national, the penalty is accompanied by expulsion. The legal consequence is not affected by whether a person is carrying the virus or not.
How do the police monitor compliance with the restriction on freedom of movement? How do the police know I’m breaking it?
We expect Estonian residents to behave in a lawful and responsible manner and to comply with the orders given by the government. The police will check compliance with the restriction on a random basis.
Does the obligation to stay home mean that I have to be inside my house or apartment the whole time and can’t go out at all?
Staying at home means cancelling all avoidable outings and really staying at your residence. It is only permitted to go outside if it is absolutely unavoidable – for example, if a person’s life is in danger, if he or she needs medical help, needs to restock food supplies or take the dog out for a walk. A person can, for example, also go out to run or bike, but then they have to avoid contact with other people. A person who has to stay at home for 14 days after entering Estonia cannot go to work, to shopping centres, to a nature trail full of visitors, etc.
NB! If you start having symptoms of disease, you have to stay at home until you are completely well and no longer contagious to others.
Why is staying at home necessary?
Isolation at home is a measure of prevention, to keep the disease from spreading. The less people move around and the less they have social contact, the smaller the risk of the infection spreading. The period is 14 days, because that is how long it might take for symptoms of illness to appear. If symptoms do appear, you have to stay at home until you are well, but if your condition worsens, you should call the ambulance.
Generally, the COVID-19 disease passes lightly, but those in danger include elderly people and those with a weaker immune system, in whose case the symptoms may develop into a severe case of pneumonia. When you stay at home, you keep the virus away from these kinds of people.
How should those people behave who are living together with or coming into contact with a person who has been subjected to a restriction on freedom of movement?
If a person is required to self-isolate for 14 days, they should also try to maintain their distance from their family members, in order to avoid spreading the virus. If this is not possible, then the people sharing the living space with the person in isolation should keep social contacts minimal based on common sense.
How long will people be subject to restrictions on freedom of movement?
The restriction on freedom of movement shall be imposed on persons entering Estonia and shall last for 14 days until this order is amended. The need for a restriction shall be reviewed from time to time.
Do I need to carry valid identification when crossing the border?
It is compulsory to carry proof of identity (ID-card or driving licence) when crossing either the external border with the Russian Federation or the internal border with the other EU member states. You must also carry a travel document to cross the border (Estonian citizens crossing the external border have to carry an Estonian citizen’s passport and those crossing the internal border have to carry a passport or an ID-card.
Are border controls in place at the border?
Yes, there are border controls. The border control is similar to that which there has earlier been on the external land border with the Russian Federation, and because of the state of emergency it applies from 17 March 2020 to the internal border, which is the land border between Estonia and Latvia, the air border, and the sea border with other European Union member states.
If the address of residence or stay that you provided at the border changes during quarantine, then notify the Police and Border control via e-mail at: [email protected]
Is it possible to cross the border from Estonia to Latvia or Latvia to Estonia anywhere along the border, through the forests for example?
No. From 17 March 2020, border controls have been reintroduced on the internal border and it is only permitted to go from Estonia to Latvia or Latvia to Estonia through the temporary border control points.
Crossing the border anywhere except an official border point is an illegal border crossing and would be punished as such. The list of official border crossing points can be found https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation.
What data am I asked to provide upon entering Estonia and why?
At the border crossing point, a person entering the state is identified, their documents are checked, and the officials will ask about any possible symptoms of illness. The person will then confirm that they are aware of the conditions set in place for containing the virus, including the obligation to stay home for 14 days. The restriction of movement confirmation must be signed by those people, to whom the exceptions do not apply.
What should I expect when crossing borders?
Border controls have been temporarily restored and restrictions on border crossings have been applied. https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation
When crossing the border into Estonia:
Your travel documents will be checked.
You need to provide information regarding your itinerary.
You need to provide your contact information (e-mail, telephone, address).
You need to confirm with your signature that you are aware of the conditions imposed to prevent the spread of the virus, including the obligation to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
If you live in Estonia and work in Latvia (or vice versa), you do not have to shelter at home for 14 days if you have a special permit for crossing the border. https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation/an-exception-regarding-access-to-places-of-work-for-estonian-and-latvian-residents
What should I expect when crossing the Estonian-Russian border?
Both Estonia and Russia have established restrictions for border crossing.
Additional information regarding:
derogations of admittance to Estonia: https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation
derogations of admittance to Russia: https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation/restrictions-on-the-estonian-russian-border
Crossing the border takes longer than usual.
Could some of the border crossing points be closed?
Currently no such decisions have been taken. However it is possible that in the future the need may arise to close certain border crossings or limit the number of border crossings. If such a decision is taken, the public will be informed via government channels.
Relevant information can be found at the website of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board: https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation.
What time is the border in Narva closed daily?
The so-called Narva road border crossing point in Narva is open 24 hours daily. Find out more information on the organisation of the border crossing points at https://www.politsei.ee/en/border-guard-stations-and-border-crossing-points.
I bought a puppy from a neighbouring country. Is it possible that the seller of the puppy brings the animal to the border crossing point and I pick it up at the Estonian border?
No. The Police and Border Control (PPA) officers do not go to the border control points of neighbouring countries to bring puppies (or any other kinds of pets) to Estonia. To bring the purchased pet to Estonia, you have to find another solution or wait for the restrictions to be lifted. PPA does not keep individuals from exiting the country (except in case you have entered Estonia within the past 14 days and are subject to the 14-day movement restriction). If you enter another country (to pick up the pet), Estonian citizens have to take into account the restrictions that are in place at the moment and, if needed, contact the border control office of the other country to apply for a special permit to enter the country. The Estonian Police and Border Control Board does not issue permits to enter other countries. Additional information about entry conditions to other countries and applying for special permits can also be requested from embassies/foreign representations of foreign countries. If the seller of the dog / cat / or any other animal wishes to come to Estonia, they have to apply for a special permit. More information is available on the PPA website: [https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation ]
How long will travel restrictions last?
Currently the Emergency Situation is due to last until the 1st of May, 2020, unless decided otherwise by the government. The duration of extra measures depends on the situation on the ground. In the case of positive changes (such as the containment of the spread of COVID-19), the enforcement of restrictions may be halted. Any changes to restrictions will be publicly announced via government channels.
Can a Latvian ship crew enter into Estonia to go on a ship that is, for instance, in the port of Paldiski?
Yes, the members of that Latvian ship’s crew can enter into Estonia if they are not symptomatic.
Upon crossing the border they need to present their passport, a seafarers’ certificate and a crew list.
Estonia is open for entry to asymptomatic persons who are directly involved with international transport of goods and passengers, for instance a member of crew servicing an international transport vessel, and a person doing repair, warranty or maintenance work on a transport vessel.
If a person lives in Latvia, but has a summer home in Estonia, what are their conditions for coming to Estonia?
Estonia allows entry for persons who have an Estonian citizenship, a residence permit or a right of residence, including stateless persons, who hold a grey passport.
If the foreigner is an EU citizen and has registered their Estonian residence in the population register and has an Estonian ID card, he or she will not have problems entering Estonia. At the same time, he or she will be obligated to stay at home for 14 days.
A person who has not registered a residence in the population register unfortunately cannot come to their summer home in Estonia.
Those, who live in Estonia, but have a summer home in Latvia, will have to inquire about the rules for their emergency situation. This information will be provided by Latvian authorities.
Travelling to Estonia – Estonian citizens and residents
I am travelling, and I want to return home, but I have no opportunities to get back. What should I do?
There are still some regular flights taking place which would enable you to return to Estonia. First and foremost, we recommend trying existing transport routes.
Please take into account that the measures imposed by different countries can become increasingly strict by short notice and that the possibilities to travel through different countries are running out.
In order to find possibilities to return to Estonia, we recommend contacting a travel agency:
Estravel: [email protected] tel: +372 6 266 266
Baltic Tours: [email protected]
CWT Estonia: [email protected]
Go Travel: [email protected]
Reisibüroo Atlas: [email protected]
WRIS: [email protected]
Reisiekspert: [email protected]
If you could not find a way to return to Estonia even with a help of a travel agency, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: tel +372 5301 9999.
I am travelling and l want to come back home, but I haven’t found an opportunity yet. I heard that some stranded people had been brought back on private planes. Could you tell me more about opportunities like that?
Special flights are organised only in exceptional cases and to very limited destinations, from where returning is not possible any other way. Please take into account that these special flights are not free of charge. The price of the ticket depends on how many passengers are on the flight. If the special flight is organised and especially if the organiser is another country, then:
priority access to the special flight goes to the citizens of the state organising the flight;
priority goes to those, who need help more than others: for example, families with children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.
students are least likely to gain access to the flights, as are people, who work in the country of departure, and those who have gone to visit people, who live in those countries – i.e. those, who are not in the country for tourism.
Information about special flights is available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Facebook page, as well as on the Facebook pages of local Estonian embassies.
I managed to get plane tickets back to Estonia. What should I consider when I travel back to Estonia now? Should I do something differently than usual?
We recommend going to the airport early and being one of the first to check into the flight. If there are obstacles to boarding the flight, call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs IMMEDIATELY on +372 5301 9999. The more time there is between the emergence of the problem and the departure of the flight, the bigger the probability that we will manage to solve it in time
Transit through Thailand – what to consider?
Please be aware that all those entering Thailand, including transit travellers, will be asked for a health certificate issued no more than 72 hours earlier from a national hospital, and it must confirm that the person is not spreading the COVID-19 virus (in other words, they ask for a proof of a negative test result). They also ask for health insurance, which also covers costs related to a possible COVID-19 infection in the sum of at least 100 000 USD. Without these documents, you will not be allowed on the flight. If it is not possible to take a test in your country of origin (for example, it may be offered only in case of already existing symptoms), you should find another transit option. When you exit the country, these documents will not be required.
What are the conditions for transit travel through Lithuania?
Transit through Lithuania is allowed until April 13. You cannot use your own transport (private car or taxi) for transit. As a prior agreement with the Lithuanian authorities is required for transit, please immediately notify the Estonian Embassy in Vilnius (name, contact phone/e-mail, travel document number): [email protected] When coming from Estonia, you cannot travel to Lithuania through Latvia, i.e. you cannot drive to the airport to pick up your relatives or friends..
I am in the US, my visa/ESTA is about to expire but I cannot find flights back. What should I do?
If you are in the US under the visa free program (ESTA), you need to understand that you cannot overstay your initial 90 days in the US. Thus we recommend returning to Europe at first chance. Under extraordinary circumstances (e.g. you are in a hospital or your flight has been cancelled because of weather conditions) you have the possibility to submit an application to the US authorities (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) for them to consider giving you a special permit to extend your date of departure by 30 days (grant of satisfactory departure). You can find the contacts of the nearest Citizenship and Immigration Services office from: [https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-a-uscis-office]
If you are in the US with a visa, you have to fill out forms I-539 and I-912 (both can be found at [https://www.uscis.gov/i-539-addresse] with explanations as to why you could not leave in time. If the date of validity of your visa is about to expire in the coming days, you should contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services [https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-a-uscis-office.]
What should I take into consideration when returning home through Finland?
Estonian citizens and permanent residents can still come back home through Finland. You can transit through Finland and Helsinki from international airports and ports.
If you are travelling through Finland, you have to be ready to show the airline proof (e.g. a boat ticket or a plane ticket) at your place of departure that the final destination of your trip is Estonia. Should you still have problems boarding, call IMMEDIATELY to +372 5301 999
Finnair is restarting flights between Helsinki and Tallinn, the flights will be held based on need. More information is available on Finnair website.
If you will be travelling to Tallinn by boat, please take into account that upon your arrival at the airport in Helsinki you might only be allowed to leave the airport in order to go to the port. If your arrival to Helsinki is considerably before the departure time of the boat, you might have to wait at the airport for a long time. Availability of services at the Helsinki airport is very limited.
It is possible to enter Uusimaa region for transit purposes (for example, to travel from Port of Turku to Helsinki) but bring your ferry ticket as proof, which would show Estonia as your final destination.
When you reach Estonia, you must immediately go to your home or place of stay. You have the obligation to stay isolated at your home/place of stay for 14 days.
I am abroad and I was planning to come back to Estonia in April. I have the return tickets, and they have not been cancelled. Can I be certain I can use them for the return trip?
Currently the situation is changing very rapidly, and countries impose restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus with a very short notice. We recommend that you take into account that right now the crisis is worsening rather than improving, and it is likely that more restrictions will be imposed. The longer is your journey, and more stopovers you have to have, the greater the likelihood that some of the connections may not operate.
If you definitely want to return to Estonia, this should be done as soon as possible, i.e. in the coming days.
I want to come back to Estonia through Latvia – what are the requirements there?
Estonian residents, including persons involved in the transit of goods, who transit through Latvia must fill out a form and if asked present it to the Latvian border control officers. The form is available on the website of the Latvian Ministry of Transport http://www.sam.gov.lv/images/modules/items/PDF/item_8592_anketas_LTU_EST_parvadatajs_ANGLISKI.pdf, but it is also handed out by border guards. When you fill out this form, you confirm that you will leave Latvia as soon as possible and will not visit public places in Latvia.
Which restrictions on movement will apply at Finland’s internal and external borders from 19 March?
The movement of passengers is authorised as follows:
Helsinki-Vantaa, Mariehamn and Turku airports remain open to Finnish citizens, residents and other EU citizens wishing to return home for vital work and other strictly necessary reasons. Other airports remain open only for the transport of goods.
The ports of Helsinki, Mariehamn, Turku and Vaasa remain open to Finnish citizens, residents and other EU citizens wishing to return home for vital work and other strictly necessary reasons. Other ports remain open only for the transport of goods.
Åland, Haapasaari, Hanko and Helsinki coast guard stations, as well as the Port of Nuijamaa, and Santio remain open to Finnish citizens, residents and other EU citizens wishing to return home and for other essential travelling.
Land border crossing points between Finland and Sweden, and Finland and Norway remain open to Finnish citizens, residents and other EU citizens wishing to return home and for other essential travelling.
**The movement of passengers at the external borders shall be permitted as follows:
Air traffic** Helsinki-Vantaa, Mariehamn and Turku airports remain open to Finnish citizens, residents and other EU citizens for returning home and for other essential travelling. The transport of goods is permitted. All other external border crossing points of the airports are open only for the transport of goods. The external sea border crossing points at Åland, Hanko and Helsinki are closed.
Maritime traffic The ports of Helsinki, Mariehamn, Turku and Vaasa remain open to Finnish citizens, residents and other EU citizens for returning home and for other essential travelling. The transport of goods is permitted. All other ports are open only for the transport of goods. Åland, Haapasaari, Hanko and Helsinki coast guard stations, as well as the Port of Nuijamaa, and Santio remain open to Finnish citizens, residents and other EU citizens wishing to return home for vital work and other strictly necessary reasons.
Land and rail transport International land and rail border crossing points between Finland and Russia in Imatra, Kuusamo, Niirala, Nuijamaa, Rajajooseppi, Salla, Vaalimaa and Vartius remain open only to Finnish and Russian citizens, Finnish residents and other EU citizens for returning home and for other essential travelling. The borders remain open for the transport of goods. Inari, Parikkala and Vainikkala are open only for the transport of goods.
Can I travel between Finland and Estonia?
As of April 11 until May 13, passenger transport will be suspended on the Tallinn-Helsinki route. This is due to the decision of the Finnish Government to extend the existing border crossing restrictions until May 13. Shipping companies are advised to stop selling tickets to regular passengers from Tallinn to Helsinki from April 11 until May 13, and Tallink, Viking Line and Eckerö Line have stopped selling tickets on their websites on this route. Finnair has announced that their flights between Tallinn and Helsinki will be based on demand – more information will be available from Finnair.
Transit from Helsinki to Tallinn will continue, if people are travelling to Estonia making a stopover in Finland, they will be able to return home. It is important to make sure you have your travel documents (e.g. a ferry ticket) available before departure, proving that the final destination is Estonia.
As of March 22, people can enter Finland only if they have registered a right of residency in Finland; also people travelling due to the essential nature of their work, such as health care workers, rescue workers, people caring for the elderly, and freight transporters. People travelling due to the essential nature of their work must show their permanent employment contract at the border in order to prove their need to enter the country. Full list of derogations can be found here: https://www.raja.fi/ajankohtaista/ohjeet_rajanylitykseen The burden of proof lies with the person travelling, and the Finnish border authority will make the final decision regarding the entrance to the country. The general requirement to self-isolate for 14 days applies.
I work in Finland and travel regularly on the Tallinn-Helsinki route. Can this continue, or should I decide where I want to stay until the end of the crisis?
Estonian citizens and residents of Estonia with a residence permit or right of residence, including holders of grey passports will be allowed to enter Estonia.
As of 17 March, all those returning to Estonia must stay at home for 14 days (with exceptions).
If a person comes from Finland to Estonia to attend a funeral of a close one, must that person remain in quarantine in Estonia when he might as well do it in Finland after he returns there?
You should fill out the application for an authorization to cross the border in exceptional circumstances and send it to [email protected]: https://www.politsei.ee/files/eriolukord/erandid-eritaotluse-vorm.docx?092a7c19fa.
In that case he does not need to stay in isolation in Estonia for 14 days. But we ask that rules for returning to Finland be ascertained before the start of the trip as, starting from March 22, only those Estonian citizens who have a right of residency in Finland (with a registered address of a place of residence) can enter the country.
A parent’s place of residence is in Finland, she wants to come to Estonia to pick up her child and then go back to Finland with the child. According to the rules she must stay at home in Estonia for 14 days. Is there a possibility for an exception?
You should fill out an application for an authorization to cross the border in exceptional circumstances and send it to [email protected]: https://www.politsei.ee/files/eriolukord/erandid-eritaotluse-vorm.docx?092a7c19fa.
In that case you do not need to stay in isolation in Estonia for 14 days. But we ask that before the start of the trip you ascertain the rules for returning to Finland, including the rules for staying in isolation in Finland for 14 days.
What does the closure of Russian borders mean? Can I visit my relatives? I live in Estonia, but currently I am visiting in Russia, am I able to return home?
The decision of the Russian Government concerns all border crossing points for vehicles, railways and pedestrians, including crossing Narva-Ivangorod border crossing point on foot. Derogations have been established for Russian citizens, and members of their family returning to Russia, but the derogation applies only to entry, not exit. If you are a Russian citizen, and you reside in Estonia with a residence permit, then you can enter Russia but please take into account, that based on the information received from the Russian Border Authority, Russian citizens will not be allowed to leave Russia.
Estonian and EU citizens and stateless persons (with Alien´s passport) are still allowed to leave Russia. However, the situation may change very quickly, and our recommendation is to return to Estonia as soon as possible. Border crossing is allowed for carriage of goods and for attending a funeral of a close relative.
I am currently abroad, and I have considered staying here for longer. What should I know, and when would it be possible to fly again?
If you are sure that you can cope well and stay safe in a foreign country during the crisis, you don’t have to return. You will need to consider the following aspects when making your decision:
The crisis is likely to last a long time, you might need to stay at your current location until mid-May, possibly for longer.
Transportation opportunities are decreasing, Estonian borders will remain open to Estonian citizens and residents, but fewer flights will be arriving in Estonia, and these connections might also disappear.
Countries will tighten the restrictions before mitigating them. Accommodation services and catering establishments might close, seasonal work opportunities might diminish.
Make sure you comply with all the requirements for legal stay in the country (verify whether you need a visa or an extension for a visa, residence permit, registration at the Immigration Office, etc.). Ask for information about the requirements from the Immigration Office, or the Estonian Embassy, if the country has an Estonian representation.
if you decide to return to Estonia, do so as soon as possible.
I am abroad, and I was planning to come back to Estonia in April. I have the return tickets, and they have not been cancelled. Can I be certain I can use them for the return trip?
Currently the situation is changing very rapidly, and countries impose restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus with a very short notice. We recommend that you consider that right now the crisis is worsening rather than mitigating, and it is likely that more restrictions will be imposed. The longer is your journey, and more stopovers you must have, the greater the likelihood that some of the connections may not operate. If you definitely want to return to Estonia, this should be done as soon as possible.
Travelling to Estonia – foreigners
I’m a foreign citizen. Can I travel to Estonia, do I have to stay in isolation?
No, you will not be let in. Estonia is only letting in Estonian citizens or residents of Estonia with a residence permit or right of residence, including holders of the so-called grey passport (stateless persons).
Are there border crossers who are not subject to movement restrictions or so-called isolation requirements?
Yes. The following persons, who have been admitted to Estonia and have no evidence of illness, are not subject to the 14-day restriction on freedom of movement:
employees of foreign diplomatic missions or consular posts or their family members or foreigners arriving in Estonia in the framework of international military cooperation;
persons directly involved in the transport of goods or raw materials;
Persons directly involved in the international carriage of goods and passengers, including crew members of international public transport;
persons serving travel groups who are directly involved in the provision of passenger transport services;
health care professionals or other emergency services;
persons who are allowed to cross the border for the purpose of transit to their country of residence;
persons whose purpose of crossing the border is to move to or from work from Valga to Valka and vice versa;
persons who have been authorized by the Police and Border Guard to enter Estonia on their specific application.
I’m a business owner and I have foreign citizens working for me who are currently not in Estonia. How can they return?
Estonian citizens and residents of Estonia who have an Estonian residence permit or right of residence, including holders of a so-called grey passport, are admitted to Estonia as well as foreign citizens and foreigners whose family member lives in Estonia. Foreigners arriving in Estonia in the framework of international military cooperation also can enter the country.
Foreigners who do not show any signs of illness and whose close relative is an Estonian citizen or a person with the right of residence are admitted with the special permit of the police. Transport by international freight is available. In addition, vital service providers, such as fuel suppliers are permitted to enter.
Foreigners can travel through the country to transit to their home country if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
The temporary restriction on the crossing of the border shall remain in force until the order is amended; its necessity shall be assessed at least every two weeks. Other persons are denied entry to Estonia and are returned from the border.
Can a Finnish citizen whose partner is an Estonian citizen or has an Estonian residence permit or right of residence in Estonia come from Finland to Estonia?
At present, an EU citizen will be able to enter the country if they have right of residence in Estonia. In addition, the amendment of March 20 facilitates the movement of Latvian and Estonian citizens (including EU citizens) who work and live either in the Republic of Estonia or the Republic of Latvia between these two countries. If this Finnish citizen has the right of residence in Estonia, or if they have registered their place of residence in Estonia as an EU citizen in the Estonian Civil Registry, and they have an Estonian ID card, then returning to Estonia is possible. However, when returning to Estonia from another country, 14- day requirement to self-isolate still applies.
Can a foreigner come to Estonia to be with his life partner who is in the last months of her pregnancy? The persons are not married. Who is considered to be a family member (for instance, is a life partner, an unborn child, stepchildren/parents etc. a fam
If this foreigner has a right of residency in Estonia, i.e. as an EU citizen he has registered his Estonian place of residency in the Estonian population register and he has an ID card, there should be no problem with his entry into Estonia. The requirement to stay at home for 14 days still applies.
As an exception, the Police and Border Guard Board may allow entry into Estonia to a foreigner who is not symptomatic and:
whose direct descendant or ascendant relative or spouse is an Estonian citizen, has an Estonian residence permit or right of residency in Estonia.
is exceptionally permitted to enter the country for a substantiated reason, i.e. a mother and child with a visa are in different countries.
You should fill out an application for an authorization to cross the border in exceptional circumstances and send it to [email protected] : https://www.politsei.ee/files/eriolukord/erandid-eritaotluse-vorm.docx?092a7c19fa.
Can I enter Estonia as a citizen of a European Union Member State when I have a company registered in Estonia but I do not have the right of residence in Estonia?
The answer is no. If you have a permanent place of residence in Estonia, and therefore the right of residence in Estonia, then in this case you are allowed to enter the country.
Can I enter Estonia if I am a citizen of a European Union Member State whose partner is an Estonian citizen or has Estonian residence permit? I do not have the right of residence in Estonia.
The answer is no.
Can I enter Estonia if I am a citizen of a European Union Member State and I have children with an Estonian citizen or a person who has the residence permit or right of residence in Estonia (we are not married), but I do not have the right of residence in
Yes, you are allowed to enter.
If I get infected with the coronavirus will my residence permit get revoked?
No, it won’t.
A foreign student of an Estonian University went to Finland and cannot return to Estonia as a foreign national. But as a student in Estonia they have the residence permit and they are registred in the Civil Registry. What can they do?
As a student at a University in Estonia they have the residence permit, and right to return to Estonia.
Is it possible to restrict foreigners entering Estonia?
The Government of Estonia may temporarily restrict or suspend the crossing of the state border for reasons of public health protection, and by now restrictions have been imposed.
Can the residents of all Estonian and Latvian municipalities work in the other country (commuting between Estonia and Latvia)?
Yes, if they do not have any symptoms of the disease. The person in charge of the emergency situation changed the terms for crossing the Estonian-Latvian border on 20 March. The amendment adds a derogation to allow reciprocal working in Estonia and Latvia, regardless of the region.
If I’m a Latvian or Estonian citizen working in Estonia or Latvia on a daily basis, can I cross the border several times a day?
The Police and Border Guard Board shall cooperate fully with companies to ensure that cross-border working runs as smoothly as possible, regardless of whether it is an employment relationship, fulfilment of a contract or an enterprise. However, in any case, we ask people to consider their need for movement responsibly as to preserve their health and the health of others.
The review of applications will be facilitated when companies prepare a list of their employees who need the special permit and forward it to the Police and Border Guard Board for inspection. The name and surname of the employee or employees should be added to the list, also the numbers of their documents, and company data where and when they should work.
The Police and Border Guard Board will then check the list based on its registers as soon as possible and confirm whether and to whom the border crossing is authorised. Similarly, all applications received from individuals will be reviewed as soon as possible.
Additional information and application form can be found at https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/emergency-situation.
When submitting an application, you must live or work in Estonia or Latvia. It is important to note you are not subject to a 14-day restriction on freedom of movement.
Can a Latvian citizen get a special permit to go to work on an Estonian island?
The special right does not extend to going to work on the islands because the order of the Government Committee that went into force on March 14 prohibits movement between the larger islands and the mainland. The general principle is that movement of persons guaranteeing the provision of critical services and transport of goods is allowed. It is also allowed to return to your place of residence which means that a person who lives in Võru can leave the island but then cannot return anymore.
I am Latvian but my son lives with his mother in Estonia. Will I be able to visit him?
children, grandchildren or a spouse if this person is an Estonian citizen or a foreigner with a right of residence in Estonia. Visitors must remember though that when they arrive in Estonia they will be told to go to their home or their permanent place of stay and they will not be allowed to leave it for 14 days. People who are subject to isolation must remain alone as much as is possible. If this is not possible, people living with or coming into contact with the person subject to isolation should try to keep contact with the person to a minimum while using their common sense. Similarly, the loved ones should also minimise their contact with those outside the household/close circle of the person subject to isolation.
Could a person of Russian nationality working in Estonia but living in Russia (incl. people of Estonian and Russian dual citizenship), exceptionally, be able to cross the Estonian-Russian border for work purposes?
There are no derogations for crossing the Estonian-Russian border and persons crossing the border must take into account the 14-day movement restriction in both Estonia and Russia. It is not possible to commute to work and back across the border.
Exceptionally, could an Estonian citizen / resident with a job in Russian territory cross the border for work?
No, the Russian Government does not provide for such a distinction.
Is there a specific authority in Russia that businesses can turn to for requests for border crossing exemptions?
No. The order of the Russian Government does not provide for any exceptions of the admission requirements and consequently there is no specific authority to apply for.
If a person comes back to Estonia from abroad, but lives with an elderly relative, who is in the risk group , where will this returning person be isolated?
A person coming from abroad should definitely not go into isolation to where their grandparent lives. This person should find a place to stay at a hotel or find a place with the help of friends and family in Estonia to stay for 14 days, if possible. Currently no private-sector accommodation establishments have expressed their willingness to accommodate people obliged to stay in isolation (either for free, or for a charge).
Will there be restrictions because of the state of emergency on foreigners who are temporarily in the country either with a visa or visa-free?
From 17 March, foreigners who work in Estonia on a C or D-visa or visa-free will not be able to return to Estonia. If they are already in Estonia, they will be able to remain in the country or to leave it if they wish.
A foreigner who has been lawfully staying in Estonia as of 12 March 2020 and who has been prevented from returning to his / her country of residence may legally stay in Estonia on a temporary basis. He does not have to contact the Police and Border Guard to extend his stay. He can stay in Estonia for up to 10 days after the end of the emergency situation. Such a regulation was provided by a general order of the Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board.
People arriving in Estonia from 13 March 2020 will not be subject to this general arrangement, as they came to Estonia at the time of the declared emergency and had to take into account the risks involved. If their existing visa is due to expire during the emergency period, they must apply for a visa at the Police and Border Guard Service or leave the Schengen area before the visa expires. Applying for a visa gives the right to stay in Estonia until a decision has been made to grant or refuse a visa. The visa application cannot be submitted by post, the person is identified at the service centre and fingerprints are taken. The fingerprints given in the photo box cannot be used in the visa procedure.
How to interpret that return is prevented?
It means both the lack of transport options and the closure of national borders for transit. Every day, more countries are closing their borders and connecting flights are also restricted.
Can Estonia be used for transit, for example if an aeroplane arriving from Egypt has Latvian citizens on board who want to go through Tallinn to Latvia?
People who are showing signs of illness should get help in the country where they are at that moment. Foreigners can use Estonia as a transport corridor to get to their home country if they have shown no signs of being infected with coronavirus. If there are signs of serious illness, an ambulance can be called if necessary.
Can a Latvian citizen, coming from Cyprus travel to Latvia via Estonia?
Yes. Foreigners can travel through the country to transit to their home country if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. They are obliged to do so immediately.
My friends from Russia planned to visit Estonia, and had acquired a visa. What is going to happen now due to the crisis?
If a single-entry visa has been issued (i.e. the visa has already been printed and the visa sticker has been attached to the passport) immediately before the establishment of the emergency situation, then they cannot use the visa to enter Estonia until the emergency situation comes to an end. Their next equivalent visa application will be processed free of charge, provided that the original visa has not been used for travel to Estonia or elsewhere.
A Russian citizen who resides in Estonia under a residence permit is coming home. Can he return to Russia if necessary?
Anybody who enters Estonia is subject to a restriction of movement for 14 days, and the person is prohibited from leaving their place of residence or permanent stay within 14 days of arrival in Estonia. During the established 14-day movement restriction, the person cannot also leave the country.
It is important to remember that commuting across the border is not allowed.
I read that Estonia no longer issues visas but we have to go to a funeral. Can our relatives from a neighbouring country travel to Estonia?
For humanitarian reasons (illness of a close relative, a funeral) it is still possible submit a visa application. Please contact the Estonian embassy in the country concerned. In the case of humanitarian reasons, if it was not possible to apply for the visa at the embassy, it is also possible to extraordinarily issue a visa at the border point (e.g. for coming to a funeral).
Does the requirement of a movement restriction also apply to ship crews travelling between Estonia and Finland?
Estonian citizens and Estonian residents with a residence permit or a right of residence are allowed to enter Estonia, including the holders of the so-called grey passports (alien´s passport). This applies also to those foreign nationals and foreigners whose family members live in Estonia. Foreign nationals entering Estonia in the framework of international military cooperation, are allowed to enter. A foreign national who has no symptoms of the disease and whose close relative is an Estonian citizen or a person with a right of residence in Estonia, can enter the country under special police authorisation.
International carriage of goods is granted access to the country. In addition, access is granted to people providing vital services, such as fuel suppliers.
Estonia can be used as a transit route by foreign nationals aiming to reach their country of residence provided they have no symptoms of COVID-19 . Other people are not allowed to enter Estonia and are turned back from the border.
At the present time the restrictions on the movement are not extended to crew members who are allowed to enter the country.
Can a foreign national come to fetch his yacht from winter quarters in Estonia by sea and without going through a border control?
He cannot, Estonia reinstituted border controls from March 17, 2020 and due to this all persons have to go through a border control, even if they enter Estonia through a sea border crossing point (e.g. a small-craft harbour).
As there are currently restrictions in place for entering Estonia, foreign nationals need to submit a prior application for a special permit to cross the border to fetch their yacht.
Will cargo freight be stopped because of the restrictions?
When developing the conditions related to the coronavirus, the government is taking into account that the freight of goods and other economic activity must continue. For more detailed information, we recommend contacting the Tax and Customs Board.
Does it matter what goods are being transported across the border during the state of emergency, for example whether they are car parts or clothes or anything else, or can goods be transported across the border in any case?
There are currently no restrictions on the transport of goods if they are being transported for business purposes.
Is unlicensed carriage of goods permitted, what kind of accompanying documents are necessary, and would the quarantine obligation apply?
International carriage of goods is permitted, including unlicensed carriage.
Commercial carriage of goods must be accompanied by the following documents per vehicle:
a certified copy of the Community authorisation granted to the carrier of an EU or EEA Member State (exemptions for international carriage are provided for in Road Transportation Act Art 6(1) – for example, carriage in the EU at own expense);
a consignment accompanying document (CMR or so-called “loading list”);
a transport authorisation or CEMT licence under an international agreement, if goods are transported to a third country from Estonia, or from a third country to Estonia by a carrier from Austria, Bulgaria, Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Germany;
need to certify when entering with an unladen vehicle the grounds and destination of the carriage (e.g. a transport haulage order).
In the case of own-expense carriage of goods the driver must be in possession of documentation which proves that this cargo is owned by the operator organising the carriage of goods, or the company has purchased, sold, repaired, mined, or processed the goods. This carriage of goods needs to follow also other requirements laid down in Article 1(5)(d) of Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 of the EU, but in the emergency situation the verification of these requirements would constitute too much of a burden.
Persons directly involved in the carriage of goods are exempt from movement restriction.
Will a truck driver who comes back to Estonia with goods after 17 March have to be quarantined for 14 days or can he drive right back again?
According to the order of the government of the republic, the 14-day restriction on free movement does not apply to persons transporting goods or raw materials, or to persons directly involved in the freight of passengers or goods.
Freight transport is a problem between Finland and Estonia. At the border it was said that the driver would be quarantined in Estonia. Why quarantine when freight is allowed?
The 14-day restriction on freedom of movement or quarantine does not currently apply to persons who are directly involved in the transport of goods or raw materials or who are directly involved in the international transport of goods (drivers of such vehicles).
More information here: https://www.siseministeerium.ee/et/uudised/eestisse-inemisse-tuleb-inimesel-viibida-kaks-nadalat-isolATION.
Is it true that truck drivers, who travel international routes, have to sign a document at the border that says they have to be in quarantine for 14 days? And where are foreign truck drivers quarantined?
The person in charge of the emergency situation issued an order on 16 March 2020, which sets in place the terms for the restriction of the freedom of movement after crossing the border. This order says that the restriction does not apply to persons who are directly involved in the freight of goods or raw materials, and to persons who are directly involved in international goods and passenger freight. Therefore, this requirement does not apply to drivers working on international routes, if they have no signs of illness.
The link to the legal act (see pts 2 and 3): https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/517032020001/consolide.
If a cargo driver arrives to Estonia with goods and stays here, i.e. does he not carry on cross-border carriage of goods, is he subject to a 14-day self-isolation requirement?
The driver is not subject to a 14-day isolation requirement if the driver shows no symptoms.
When it comes to the freight of goods (for example, small companies, who bring in furniture from abroad or want to deliver to and from the islands of Estonia), are there any restrictions in place?
There are no restrictions on the freight of goods and it does not depend on what kinds of goods are being hauled. The 14-day restriction on movement does not apply right now to those people, who are directly involved in the transport of goods or raw materials, or who are directly involved in the international freight of goods (the drivers of these vehicles).
Is it possible for carriers of raw materials (feed) that are essential for the operation of the company and survival of the animals to cross the border more quickly?
The longer waiting order at the border than usual is natural in the present circumstances, but we will do our best to ensure that the crossing of the border is as smooth and fast as possible for all.
Are domestic animals cargo, ie does the exemption for carraige of goods apply?
Crossing the border with your dog or a cat is not a carriage of goods. The carriage of cargo at own expense must be accompanied by the document certifying the cargo is owned by the cargo operator/person or has been purchased, sold, repaired, mined, processed by the company arranging the transportation. There are also other requirements laid down in Article 1(5)(d) of Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 of the EU regarding the carriage of cargo at own expense, but in exceptional circumstances the verification might constitute too much of a burden.
Is it allowed to import food from other countries, such as Spain? Is there a danger of spreading the virus with imported goods?
No restrictions are currently imposed on the carriage of goods, regardless of the type of goods. Therefore, all foods can be imported to Estonia. As far as we know, the virus does not survive on surfaces very long, and is likely to be destroyed during the journey. Nevertheless, we recommend following all hygiene rules, it is important to clean packages and hands after handling the goods.
Could Lithuania stop sourcing milk from Estonia?
The Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture has confirmed that the dairy industry will continue to buy milk. Controls will be carried out for all the batches of milk. Estonian milk is of a very high quality and is still awaited on the Lithuanian market.
When importing the goods, a problem occurred with original certificates. Can I use a copy of the original during the crisis?
Yes, goods may also be imported into the European Union using the copy of the certificate as a temporary crisis measure.
How to forward a copy depends if the third country outside the EU has access to EU TRACES system.
If they have access, the copy can be forwarded using TRACES.
If they do not have access, the copy has to be e-mailed from the e-mail address of the competent authority of the third country directly to the e-mail address of the border inspection point. This list of acceptable border crossing points is on the website of the European Commission DG Sante, and they are classified as follows:
live animals and food of animal origin,
feed and food of non-animal origin,
plants and plant products.
The European Commission has informed the EU external trade partners and embassies of this possibility, and the similar arrangements have been requested from the third countries because many EU exporters have had problems with submitting the original certificates.
Are there any boating restrictions during the emergency situation?
People can engage in recreational boating with their own vessel in Estonian waters, but they must take into account the general restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It is recommended that only members of one family are on board of the pleasure vessel or 2-by-2 rule must be observed. People with disease symptoms should not go out boating. It is allowed to go fishing or to perform other tasks at sea. If a fisherman goes fishing from a marina on the mainland Estonia and will not enter any ports in restricted areas, such as Saaremaa, and then returns after fishing to the marina on the mainland – then no restrictions on movement will apply. When boating with a recreational vessel, the orders of the person in charge of the emergency situation must be followed regarding the introduction of restrictions on freedom of movement in the territory of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Vorms, Kihnu, Ruhnu and Muhu municipalities and the island of Manija.(https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/316032020004 Please find the rules for the emergency situation here. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/viitedLeht.html?id=7
Information must be provided about the people on board the vessel by the master of the vessel to the Maritime Rescue Centre tel 619 1224. When going boating on inland border waterways, the requirement of registration of your journey is based on the State Border Act, registration can be done on the website www.piiriveekogu.ee. When out at sea, VHF radio stations need to be switched on, and be prepared to explain to a maritime patrol where you are coming from and where you are going.
What should I know about the port border control?
As border controls at the internal borders of the European Union have been restored on a temporary basis, the obligation of border controls also applies to small vessels if they wish to enter a port of a Member State. Master of a recreational vessel must inform the nearest port police authority or a port authority of their arrival in Estonia (crossing the State border), who will then inform the nearest port police authority (Tallinn border inspection point tel. +372 619 1260), at least one hour before entering or leaving the port. The Police will carry out the border control based on the request.
On arrival to Estonia (crossing the State border), the recreational vessel must go to the border inspection post of the port open for international traffic, as border control at the internal border has been temporarily restored. The list of ports open for international traffic are published in the State Gazette. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/101062018007
The police have the right to control all the vessels at sea when guarding the state borders to ensure compliance with the border regime and compliance with the emergency requirements. Anyone who crosses the territorial sea border (regardless of the direction of their journey) is subject to control of the border regime. It is recommended not to travel abroad. Before leaving the port, establish whether the foreign country will allow you to enter their territory (in general, no one is currently allowed to enter another country, access is granted only in exceptional circumstances). Those who do not benefit from exemptions from movement restrictions are not allowed to enter Estonia (e.g. a Finnish national who wants to come to Estonia to perform small vessel maintenance).
How are the controls performed for personal vessels and small ports if there are no ferry connections, and there is no police presence?
The Maritime Rescue Centre of the Police and Border Guard Board is monitoring the movement of vessels in Estonian maritime territory, they have the right to request information about the vessel, its journey and purpose of the journey. If the vessel does not have a radio transmitter and the Maritime Rescue Centre cannot contact the vessel, the Centre may send a police patrol to the destination of the vessel so this the information about the vessel and its journay may be obtained. The Police and Border Guard Board vessels patrol the waters around the Western-Estonian archipelago, they also have the right to stop vessels and ask information about the journey. Fishing (and other work) at sea is allowed. For example, it is permitted for a fisherman to leave a port to go fishing, and then to return to the same port. We trust people understand the nature of these restrictions.
Public transport within Estonia
How should I get around? How can avoid the virus when using public transportation?
If possible, stay home. For unavoidable trips try to find a way of getting around that brings you into contact with as few people as possible. The best way is to get around is on foot or on a bicycle.
If you need to use public transportation, please observe the following:
if possible, wear a mask.
If you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve.
Do not touch handles or any other surfaces with bare hands.
Do not touch your face.
Disinfect your hands as soon as possible after you have left the public transportation.
If possible, keep 2 metres away from other passengers.
How should I behave on public transport?
If you have to use public transport then make sure you do not sneeze or cough on anyone. If you must cough or sneeze, do so into the bend of your elbow or into a tissue (then throw the tissue away). Make an effort to avoid touching handles, railings or any other surface with your bare hands. The goal is to minimise the spread of potential germs. Avoid touching your face and disinfect your hands as soon as you can after using public transport. When choosing a seat, try to sit as far away from others as you can.
Does the 2 meters and 2 people rule also apply in public transportation? How about a situation where there are non-relatives in a passenger car?
The purpose of the restrictions is to protect the people’s health and they are implemented if it is possible to do it sensibly. In public transportation people should sit as far away from each other as possible and if it should be necessary to stand in public transportation, to stand as far away from other passengers as possible.
The weather is already nice so using a bicycle to travel to work/home could also be considered.
Should I take a taxi?
Yes, taxis are an option. If you have the chance, ask the taxi driver before getting in the car if they have disinfected the vehicle and aired it out between passengers. Remind the driver to disinfect and air out the car after your ride.
I use public transport to do the shopping, what should I do now?
If at all possible, make a list of the essentials that you need and liaise with people close to you, or with neighbours, so that everyone’s shopping can be done by a person who owns a car.
If no one you know is in a position to shop for you and there is no alternative to using public transport, make sure that you do not cough or sneeze on anyone.
Avoid touching any surfaces with your bare hands. The goal is to minimise the spread of potential germs.
Avoid touching your face and disinfect your hands as soon as you can after using public transport.
The driver coughed and did not seem to be in good health, what should I do?
Coughing and looking unwell is not a sure sign that someone might have the coronavirus. As a precaution, keep your distance from the driver, avoid touching surfaces, don’t touch your face, and wash or disinfect your hands after exiting the bus/train/etc. If you truly suspect the driver of being ill, please contact the transport provider and inform them of the time you saw the possibly ill driver and which line they were operating.
If there are fewer passengers, will the bus line be shut down? How can I get around after that if the bus is my only mode of transport?
As there are fewer people moving around, it is highly likely that the volume of public transport will decrease as well. Getting around is still definitely guaranteed to people, the frequency might just decrease. So, if the occupancy of bus lines goes down markedly and continuing to provide the service would be economically detrimental to the transport operators servicing the commercial lines, the provider can ask the Road Administration to change the schedule to less regular one with a shorter period of prior notice. The public will be notified of any such changes via the media.
If the number of buses operating is so few that people are not provided with reasonable access to transportation, the Road Administration has the right to demand that the provider supplies transport services. Both parties will sign an agreement and the provider will be compensated for the costs. These agreements are temporary, and will not exceed what is needed during the emergency situation.
Are taxi service closures being planned?
At the moment, there are no plans to restrict taxi services. The service is an alternative to public transportation, and during a virus outbreak, it is important to have transportation that provides as little human contact as possible.
The taxi service providers are aware of the ways in which the virus is spread, and they have presumably adopted the necessary measures to protect their employees. A taxi driver has contact with many clients throughout the day, and it is in the driver’s interest to regularly disinfect and air out the vehicle.
The local governments can also put restrictions on the organisation of taxi services, if they consider it necessary. Currently, no local governments have issued notifications of limiting taxi services.
How will the health of bus drivers and passengers be protected on regional bus routes?
In order to protect the health of the bus drivers and limit the spread of the virus, people must enter a regional public transportation from the middle or from the back door (if there is a door at the back). Passengers do not need to contact the bus driver, as they do not need to buy a ticket also in these counties where the transport has not been free of charge before.
How will the train schedule be affected?
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications will decide on the need to revise the passenger train schedules as the situation develops. The interiors of Elron trains are cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis, with particular attention given to various contact surfaces, in order to minimize viral transmission.
Information about timetables and changes can be found on the passenger train company Elron’s website and free travel information is also provided by the 24-hour hotline 616 0245.
If ticket sales are halted on buses, what should I do on the train, where ticket sales are manually administered by the conductor?
Continue buying tickets as normal. All Elron travel attendants regularly disinfect their hands to avoid transferring any dangerous germs. We recommend buying your ticket beforehand online from the Elron sales environment to avoid direct contact. You can also purchase a ticket aboard the train from the ticket machine using the Elron farecard.
Which transport connections are running between Russia – to St. Petersburg, Moscow. Are trains and buses running?
Taking into the spread of the coronavirus, the departures of the Tallinn-St.Peterburg-Moscow train have been temporarily suspended as of March 20, and tickets already purchased can be returned. The decision to stop the train traffic was taken by the Russian Railways to prevent the spread of the virus and to ensure the safety of passengers.
The Estonian Railway invites passengers who purchased the ticket to contact the customer service of the company Go Rail ticketing agency at: +372 631 0044, e-mail: [email protected], www.gorail.ee/en.
According to information from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, carriers have also stopped service on long-distance lines headed to Russia.
Education and learning
How long will the educational institutions remain closed?
As of March 16, all educational institutions in Estonia, except kindergartens, are closed. Provision of education has been reorganised to take place as distance learning. Distance learning will continue until the end of the emergency situation.
Distance learning can end only if the situation has stabilised and there is no more risk of infection. If these conditions are met, distance learning will end on 15 May. The prerequisites for returning to schools:
Children can only attend school if it is completely safe.
Organisation of transport: public transportation must operate in previous capacity, or a school bus system must be operational.
Catering at schools: school catering must be arranged in a situation where the learning activities are partially resumed.
When organising schoolwork after May 15, it is important to observe existing restrictions for movement and assembly. We recommend monitoring the progress of students until the beginning of the summer break and, if necessary, provide individual lessons or lessons within smaller groups. Progress reviews and training days can be carried out.
Which institutions are closed?
The facilities of all educational institutions, including basic schools, upper secondary schools, vocational schools, colleges, youth centers and hobby schools, are closed. The opening hours and organization of kindergartens and childcare institutions are decided by the local government or other kindergarten manager. The situation of students with special needs and of closed educational institutions is approached individually and decisions on the organization of studies are made in cooperation between the school, the schoolmaster and the parents.
What does distance learning mean?
Throughout the duration of distance learning, we recommend following the centrally agreed bases of the school. As unexpected changes in the organization of study can cause confusion in all parties, it is important to provide clear and unambiguous information and a specific contact from the school where the parent can receive more information.
Necessary activities for schools:
Commonly agree on a specific communication channel for providing learning tasks and current information.
Provide information on how and when the student can ask the teacher for help and further explanations when needed.
Take into account the potential time for completing the assignment to avoid both under- and overburdening students.
Agree on how, when and in what form the learning assignment will be submitted and evaluated.
When planning a lesson, consider that not all students may have access to the necessary software or digital devices, and that there is a need to agree on possible solutions within the school. Keep in mind the specifics of students with special educational needs.
Will there be guidelines for organising distance learning for both educational institutions and parents?
The schools have been given initial guidelines for organising distance learning. The schools have to issue clear guidelines for the students and parents on how distance learning is organised in that particular educational institution. It is important to provide contact information for additional information. It falls within the competence of the teacher to allocate tasks and guidelines for fulfilling these tasks. It is very important for students to have parental support.
What are the possibilities for distance learning with the help of e-solutions?
Digital learning materials and solutions, chosen according to needs and possibilities, help in organizing school work flexibly. Learning materials can be on paper but the place for performing tasks and getting feedback can be in a digital environment, e.g. Stuudium, e-Kool, padlet, Google Docs et.al
Aiding material on solving issues that can arise when organizing e-learning can be found on the web page of HITSA. A HITSA web seminar on organizing home schooling through technology took place on March 10, and can be viewed here, the presentation of the seminar is here. On March 15, advisors and education technologists advised parents on the same topic, this can be viewed here.
A Facebook group „Koduõpe tehnoloogia abil“ (“Home schooling with the help of technology”) has been created to support teachers. If necessary, all teachers can freely ask for advice from education technologists there. Parents can get advice from the Facebook group “Kodune distantsõpe“ (“Distance learning at home”).
Available e-learning resources
E-Schoolbag [https://e-koolikott.ee/] is a repository of study materials, where all students, teachers and parents have access to the study material. Compulsory and elective courses in upper secondary education are free of charge with educational materials in social, arts, mathematics and nature fields. In addition, the e-Schoolbag provides digital learning kits used in basic education in nature, technology, literature, foreign languages, history, human studies etc. Further information and instructions: [email protected], 53 703 898
Opiq [https://www.opiq.ee/] offers digital textbooks and workbooks for basic school and upper secondary education free of charge. Accounts for students, teachers and parents are organized by the school. More information and directions: [email protected], 52 237 793
Foxcademy [https://www.foxcademy.com/] offers study materials for basic school and upper secondary education in math, chemistry and physics free of charge. Accounts for students, teachers and parents are organized by the school. More information and directions: [email protected], 56 478 884
Are the details of distance learning determined by the school itself?
Yes, the schools are organising their own distance learning. Educational technologists are giving advice on e-learning. More info at: https://www.hitsa.ee/e-ope-korduma-kippuvad-kusimused
What are the recommendations of the Ministry of Education to parents for general support of learning?
Keep calm and try to keep stress levels as low as possible. Your stress also affects your child. Stress is the biggest enemy of effective learning.
Ask (if necessary, help) the child to set themselves study goals for the day – what they plan to get done, what kind of help and support they might need for this. Goals that have been written down help the child to keep up with their studies.
Discuss with your child why it is especially necessary to agree upon study goals and rules and to follow them now (the situation is new, effective learning needs certain conditions). Discuss what way of studying, according to their experience, might support the child the most and offer additions if necessary (e.g. a quiet room, taking notes, discussing with a friend or a parent, talking out loud to themselves etc.). If necessary, ask for help from the teacher.
Interact with the child more rather than less. Ask questions about how the studying went, what ways of learning they used and what kind of new ways they discovered, what helped them the most. You can help the child with this, asking them to describe what they have done, substantiate why they have done it this way and how they evaluate the results of their actions themselves.
Guide the child to think about what they have learned and ask them to retell what they have learned in their own words, or ask them to write down the new knowledge. This is a good way for affixing the learned material in their heads and also a good learning strategy for independent studies in the future.
From the 7th grade onwards, in order to keep up the motivation, allow the child some independent choices. If the organisation of the school’s work allows, let them pick the time and the ways when and how they fulfil their school tasks.
The child could be reminded that effort and hard work on a task is essential and a normal part of learning. How fast one gets things done is not an indicator of success when learning things, rather it is whether one has understood and remembered the material and can use it in the future.
In order to maintain interest in learning, support your child by asking leading questions rather than offering ready answers. Motivate the child with this and do not stifle their curiosity with negative assessments.
Give the child recognition not so much for the result but for the effort. This way you are supporting their self-belief.
One of the most effective ways of learning is teaching others. Let the child teach you one new thing every night and praise them for that.
You can find more to read from the materials prepared by the Institute of Education of the University of Tartu.
What are the recommendations of the Ministry of Education for teachers and school administrators distance education?
The Ministry of Education and Research recommends that teachers in avoid grading for at least the first two weeks of distance education. The focus should not be so much on the grade evaluation of children’s learning outcomes as to focus attention on the organisation of learning and how to cope with the new situation. Instead of grades, the verbal assessment would be a more appropriate way to provide feedback and motivate students.
Recommendations for teachers for organising the study process:
take some time to think and attempt to find out, based on feedback from children and parents, what solutions work best, what is the suitable spacing of tasks, what are the best channels and tools to support and verify learning. Gather systematic feedback from children and their parents and find ways to take it into account. At the beginning it is better to focus on improving the process rather than on children’s learning outcomes.
map the e-learning platforms and e-tools you use for your distance learning school. Try to keep the number of different tools and platforms as low as possible to make the best use of study time. If necessary, help the children to create a system of how to figure out different platforms: where to find tasks and deadlines. This system could be a spreadsheet table, post-it notes, check-lists etc. In addition to more structured learning activities, the child will gain valuable experience by establishing an organised system, and can practice the planning skills necessary for life.
Arrange specific communication channels with the parents, and a specific time when the parents can contact the teacher (for example, between 4 and 5pm). Try to find the best time for this, taking into account parents schedules but do not forget that you also need some rest and personal time. The teacher does not need to be available for 24/7! •
stay calm when children and parents are unable to comply with the agreements immediately. It takes time to develop new habits of independent work, but it will be worthwhile in the future, even after the crisis.
Study task submission deadlines should be longer rather than shorter, not 2pm of the same day but 8pm in the evening). This is particularly important for younger children who need the help of parents to study. For the younger children, it might be a good idea to arrange the work as a weekly cycle, giving the tasks of the next week at the end of the previous week so that children can prepare for the lessons with their parents.
Try to allocate the tasks so that parents can get acquainted with them before children need to study alone, and the parents go to work. This allows them to support their child better, if necessary, even if they are away. Try to plan weekly tasks so that you can forward the tasks every night/couple of times a week at the same time as possible. The more reliable routine you can offer, easier the cooperation will be for both students and parents.
offer children the possibility of to test everything before and after their tasks. This allows for better recall, deeper learning, and check for the result.
The students and their learning habits are different, as well as their ability to work independently, also parents’ ability to support children vary. If possible, allocate tasks bearing in mind an average student, but also consider the possibilities of how the more advanced students can perform additional tasks, and how the students who need more help can carry out their tasks without losing the motivation of study. Provide the tasks with a variety of aid materials so the right answers can be found.
Remind children and the parents that learning requires an effort – the success of learning is not about the speed of performing tasks, but the understanding the material. If studying seems difficult, it does not mean that the child is less capable, and this material is not suited for them. Recognise the effort children make, not only the result!
Guide the children to set their own learning goals for the day (what is the planned amount for that day, what kind of assistance or support is needed), which will help keep learning on track. Encourage them to summarise their studies in the evening and give an assessment of their efforts. Use the opportunity to help the children the manage their studying and self-management better.
find a suitable balance between learning with a screen and learning without a screen. Consider how to best arrange the learning process, taking into account, among other things, the different possibilities of families to organise children’s work on computers and smart devices.
Find out what kind of learning strategies children use and discover in this new situation. Help children to exchange their experiences. Friends can be helpful in finding new ways of learning.
Motivation can be maintained by: (1) the meaningfulness of the tasks (why you chose this task, and how can you use this knowledge in the future), (2) trust (not give up and threaten with lower grades and summer repetition course these students who are not immediately self-sufficient) and (3) show interest in finding the real obstacle for performing the task, and how to help the child.
As the remote learning continues, the lack of socialising between children is increasing every day. If possible, create – especially for younger children – an opportunity for children to communicate virtually. It can be considered how to organise weekly meetings over a video channel, so that the children and the teacher could see each other and communicate.
The situation is more complicated than usual for families and the teachers due to distance learning. Be tolerant and accepting, this situation is unavoidable and new for everyone. Recommendations for school administrators
Support teachers and coordinate actions to find the best solution!
map the e-learning platforms and tools used by your school.
try to keep the number of different platforms and resources as low as possible.
School administrators and heads of study have the opportunity to use the help of the education technology system through HITSA: [email protected], 6080707.
What support services are available if a single parent is unable to stay home with the child?
If you need support services, we recommend you to contact your local government’s social welfare department.
Will the current situation affect the spring and/or summer holidays?
As the studies are not cancelled but organized from distance, the current situation does not affect the holidays. If there are any changes to this, the Ministry will keep you updated.
Do teachers have to work from home?
During the emergency situation the aim is to avoid gatherings of people. Whenever possible, we ask the head of a school, in co-operation with the school owner, to arrange studies so that the teachers can work from home for the duration of distance learning.
If working from home is not possible, teachers may work in the school building in their classrooms. Teachers displaying symptoms of disease, who have been recently abroad, or who have been in contact with a potentially infected person, need to stay at home.
If any seminars or trainings are organised during the emergency situation, attendance must by distance learning only.
What to do when your child does not have Internet access at home or you have several children at home who need to share one computer?
Please consult with your child’s school and class teacher regarding the organization of the studies. Schools must ensure that the workload is proportionally distributed when planning their studies. In this case, flexible deadlines can also be used.
Increasingly active community-based initiatives that bring those in need and donors together are an effective aid. One of the most active groups is the Facebook group “Igale koolilapsele arvuti!”.
You do not necessarily just need to use a computer to learn. While the teacher can submit learning tasks via the Internet, learning can also continue through textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, books, etc. In this case, we recommend sending a photo of the completed assignment to the teacher.
Do schools need to organize a school lunch for students during the distance learning period?
The school buildings are closed for studies, therefore no school lunch is provided. Providing school lunches to students at home is generally not possible (hygiene, logistics, possible spread of disease, etc.). If the school or the local authority is aware of pupils whose home situation does not allow for proper catering, the local government in cooperation with the social sector will ensure this.
If school lunches are not being provided, will pupils get food money for themselves?
The money for school lunches will not be given to pupils or parents, except at vocational education institutions, where the system of food money still continues.
How will the school lunches reach those who need them?
All schools, regardless of their form of ownership, have been asked to find out whether they have pupils who need a school lunch.
In that case there are two options:
If the pupil’s are registered place of residence is in the same local municipality as the school, the school will provide those pupils with lunch, or find an alternative solution in co-operation with the local government.
If the pupil’s registered place of residence is in a different local municipality than the school, the school will send the pupil’s information to the local municipality of their place of residence, who will organise food for that pupil as far as it is possible.
In the latter case, the local municipalities may present the other school owner invoices. The sum may be at least at the rate of the subsidy for school lunches from the state budget or at a rate corresponding to the cost of a school lunch in that particular school, if the local municipality is organizing the feeding of these pupils.
The local municipality may use the means allocated by the state to the schools for the current academic year’s school lunches in a way that allows the regular provision of school lunches to continue after the end of home learning. Particular solutions depend on the conditions set by the contract concluded with the caterer and the good will of the parties under the current emergency situation.
If necessary, the lunch halls of the schools may be used for organizing the school lunches if the following restrictions are adhered to:
A person with any kind of symptoms will not be allowed to enter the building.
The eating of the food is not organized in the building, the ready meals are handed over for delivery.
The people in the building will have as little contact with each other as possible.
If possible, one entryway is used for entering and another for exiting so that the paths would not cross.
Everyone in the building is monitored for symptoms and precautions are taken (hand washing, disinfectants etc.)
The Health Board recommendations to workers in a higher risk (age, chronic diseases that lower immunity etc.) are taken into account when reorganizing work.
Upon finding a symptomatic person in the building, this person is immediately isolated from the others. The situation has to be solved in a way that contains the spread of the virus and is in accordance with the instructions of the Health Board.
Do the evaluation criteria remain the same for tests and periodic / annual assessments?
Distance learning is also subject to evaluation in accordance with the school’s evaluation guidelines and, if any distinctions are made, this information must be communicated centrally by the school. The teacher should explain to the student what tasks need to be completed, what the criteria for evaluation are and how they will receive feedback.
Is it possible to arrange defence of research papers at gymnasium from distance?
The procedure for defending research papers shall be established by the School.
Can the school organize excursions and trips abroad during distance learning?
No, it is not allowed to organize excursions, trips abroad or other gatherings during distance learning.
Do the restrictions on contact learning also apply to private, individualized learning? Even if they are organized in the home of the student / teacher?
Whenever possible, we recommend that you avoid physical contact and organize it from a distance.
How is it ensured that home schooling produces the same results as school education? Will the criteria for basic school state exams be lighter or more rigorous?
Schools and teachers must be trusted. They make every effort to ensure that distance learning is of the highest standard. However, it is also the responsibility of the pupil and the parent to achieve the necessary learning outcomes. Evaluation is done according to the instructions given by the teacher. It should be clear to the student what is required and how the teacher will give feedback.
The state exams measure learning outcomes that have been achieved throughout the basic school. Usually, there is time for repeating some key topics in spring. If there are still new topics to be covered, this must be done through distance learning. The school and the teacher can best assess the need and opportunities for this. Exams are still assessed routinely and according to the exam evaluation guidelines.
How do you motivate your children to stay focused on studying when there are many other temptating activites?
Above all, motivation to learn is maintained by: (1) meaningful tasks (explain why you chose those tasks and how can they use the gained knowledge in the future), 2) trust (do not give threatening comments, despiteful grades, threats to leave them to summer work, etc. for those who are not self-directed) and (3) a sincere interest in what was difficult in the task and what could help the child further. Establish a clear structure for home-based learning: where, when, and how to learn, and provide assistance to children when needed.
How to support students and their self-management during distance learning?
The situation and learning to cope with it is new for everyone. It is important not to focus so much on learning outcomes during the first week of distance learning as to take the time to practice without the fear of failure.
Teachers, during the first week, take the time to think and try, based on the children’s feedback, what solutions work best, what time frame to assign, what are the best-performing channels and tools to support and evaluate the students. Collect systematic feedback from children and their parents and find ways to take it into account. In the beginning, focus on improving the process rather than the student’s learning outcomes.
Students and parents, try to get used to the new situation and find the best solutions for your family. If you have problems, do not see them as obstacles, but try to understand where the obstacles are and what might help you overcome them. Also, parents, please let your teachers know about any issues you and your child encounter – it will also help them make the necessary adjustments.
Focus first and foremost on how to study at home now, not just what to learn, how much, and with what results.
Can school trips, graduation events, or other gatherings take place after distance learning period comes to an end?
No. During this academic year, all major events, such as school trips, study trips and graduation events will be cancelled. The schools need to find flexible solutions to organise the necessary events. When assessing the need for an assembly, all existing restrictions must be taken into account.
How do movement restrictions and the requirement to maintain a 2-metre distance as of March 25 affect the work of kindergartens?
Kindergartens continue their work under the current system, paying attention to hygiene rules and other necessary precautions.
How will the pre-schools be organized?
Opening hours and organization of the pre-school / childcare are decided by the manager of the institution.
The manager of the institution decides whether the pre-school / childcare facility will stay open based on the situation in the particular area while aiming to ensure a normal rhythm of life as long as possible. However, all parents who have the opportunity to do so should leave the children at home. Children who are sick or have symptoms must not come to the pre-school.
If the institution is closed, is there still a fee?
In the case of a municipal pre-school, the decision is made by the local government. In the case of private institution, the application of a place fee is subject to an agreement between the provider, the parent and the local government.
Can kindergarten children go outside?
Yes. But it is recommended that they only come into contact with the children in their own group.
Why are the pre-schools open, when schools are closed?
Whenever possible, we encourage parents to leave their children at home. Be sure to monitor your own health and that of your family members. We recommend that the pre-school develop a clear position and inform parents that sick children, children with clear signs of illness, or those returning from abroad, must not be brought to the pre-school and will not be accepted. The pre-school has the right to send home sick children that put others to danger. Closing pre-schools entirely paralyses vital services, as young children cannot, as a rule, be alone at home.
Should the employees of kindergartens wear personal protective equipment?
Every kindergarten makes its own decisions about using protective equipment. Childcare facilities must certainly follow hygiene requirements very thoroughly. The number of people entering the building must be limited. Symptomatic people are not allowed inside. The groups are also not allowed to come into contact with each other.
What to do if a kindergarten has been closed and there is no place to put the children, the family doctor will not issue a certificate of sick leave to stay at home with the children and the employer refuses to give any other leave but unpaid leave?
Child care must be provided for by the local municipality.
Does a kindergarten have a right to refuse to receive a child who has stayed at home for 14 days after returning from abroad and has no symptoms? What should a parent do if the head of the kindergarten refuses to receive the child?
The decisions about whether to keep a kindergarten open and how to organise its work are made by
the local government, in the case of a municipal kindergarten and day care,
the owner, in the case of a private institution.
The local municipality has the obligation to guarantee a place in the kindergarten to all children who have at least one parent whose registered place of residence is that local municipality. This means that if the head of the kindergarten refuses to receive a child, the place to turn to is the local municipality.
Not receiving a child in a kindergarten has to be substantiated. For instance, it might be substantiated if it is known that the requirement to stay at home has been violated, that the child is living with or has come into contact with a family member who has the coronavirus or is suspected to have it. The parent has the obligation to present true information about a possible risk of infection. If there have been no such circumstances, the keeper of the kindergarten has to find a suitable solution.
We still call on the parents to keep the children at home if at all possible.
Definitely monitor the health condition of your family members and do not bring a symptomatic child to the kindergarten. The kindergarten has the right to send sick children home.
Which rules must be followed in kindergartens in order to minimise the risk of infection among the staff and the children?
The Ministry of Education and Research has issued the following instructions for the kindergartens:
no person with symptoms of disease is allowed access to the building.
parents and other people cannot enter the building. The child will be handed over to the teachers outside.
no informal education or hobby classes will be held at kindergartens.
contacts between the people in the building will be kept to a minimum.
there will be no contact between different kindergarten classes. Sports facilities, swimming pools and other shared rooms in the kindergarten will not be in common use.
•The health of all persons in the kindergarten will be monitored to prevent and detect signs of disease. Measures are taken to prevent the spread of the disease (e.g. washing hands, use of disinfectants).
When re-organising the work of the kindergarten, the recommendations of the Health Board will be observed regarding at-risk staff (older members of staff, persons with chronic diseases, immunocompromised persons, etc).
If someone at the kindergarten presents with symptoms, they will be isolated immediately. It is important to handle the situation so that the spread of the disease is controlled, the Health Board recommendations are observed.
The kindergarten principal is authorised to find an optimal solution in co-operation with the local government when re-organising the work of the kindergarten. This includes possibilities of remote learning for older children. During the emergency situation, the principal of the kindergarten has the right to establish whether the parent has a need for the kindergarten services.
Exercise clubs, hobby clubs and youth centres
Can hobby courses, trainings, etc. take place?
No, the organization of hobby courses, trainings etc does not differ from the one established by the Government of the Republic, according to which the activities must be conducted from distance. If possible, conduct the activities via electronic means. Independent assignments by the teacher are welcomed, as it helps to fill pupils’ time and to ensure the continuity of the activities.
Can a private informal education establishment hold classes if there are only a few students?
Also in the case of private informal education all educational work should be organised as distance learning. Any form of contact learning is not permitted.
Can a coach hold a training session for children outdoors?
Group training sessions cannot be held neither indoors or outdoors. Students can train independently, if the coach can instruct them via a distance learning method.
I am an entrepreneur, offering informal learning services. Will someone compensate me for lost income?
If possible, provision of informal learning should continue, distance learning opportunities could be used. It is important to communicate with parents in order to find a compromise so membership fees will be paid at least partially. Please inform the local government about your continued activities and your need to continued benefits (if any). More information on labour market measures targeted at entrepreneurs can be found on the website of the Government of the Republic. (https://www.valitsus.ee/et/eriolukord-eestis#KKK)
Does the informal learning establishment have the right to ask parents for a fee for their services also in the emergency situation?
If a fee is charged for a service that can be provided in the form of home-schooling, then the school is entitled to charge a fee from the parent for the service provided. If home-schooling is not possible and the service is suspended, then you cannot charge parents for it. We encourage the schools to find a solution in cooperation with the parents so that it would be possible to continue with informal learning when the emergency situation comes to an end.
What kind of support system can an owner of a hobby school rely on to pay the employees?
The payment of support to compensate for the damages related to the emergency situation is organised by the state through the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. Information on the initial measures is available on the website of the Government of the Republic. The more specific terms of the support will be published on the website of http://www.tootukassa.ee.
Can we count on the support system for our employees if we cannot provide the service or if the parents refuse to pay for the service?
If the emergency situation does not permit to carry out the work, the compensation for reduced wages is organised by the state through the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. More specific terms of the support can be found on the web page of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.
If the parents refuse to pay for the service, it might be feasible to review the contracts and find a compromise. On one hand, the government order no 77 on the emergency situation did not change the tuition contracts, on the other hand there is no reason to pay for services that are not being provided.
If we have an individual student who wants to continue with the lessons and the teacher is willing to teach, is it possible to carry on with the lessons?
For example, in a case of studying a musical instrument at the music school, then all the learning activities should be organised in the form of distance learning, not in the premises of the informal education school.
Can private hobby school teachers working under an employment contract (and most under a law of obligations contract) use a certificate for sick leave due to closures? How to guarantee that a person has an income when hobby education in schools and//
//kindergartens is suspended?
The premises of hobby schools are closed due to the emergency situation but we recommend finding suitable solutions for distance learning — this ensures the continuation of work and income.
The payment of support to compensate for the damages related to the emergency situation is organised by the state through the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. Information on the initial measures is available on the website of the Government of the Republic. The more specific terms of the support will be published on the website of http://www.tootukassa.ee.
If there is cause to apply for a certificate for sick leave, this can be done upon an agreement with a family doctor. Persons employed under an employment contract, persons receiving a wage or a fee for a service under a law of obligation contract, members of the management board or the supervisory board of a legal person have health insurance in Estonia.
The parents of our students want to proceed with educational activities at the school premises. What is the correct action?
It is not allowed to carry out educational activities at the premises of hobby schools. If possible, hobby education can continue in the form of distance learning.
How are the activities of Open Youth centres taking place during the emergency situation?
The facilities of Open Youth Centres are closed, but youth work continues – activities take place using various remote opportunities.
The youth worker of the Open Youth Centre wants to continue the activities of youth work in open air. What is the correct action?
Due to the emergency situation youth work activities will be carried out remotely. Open air activities are permitted only as individual training.
I work as a youth worker in an Open Youth Centre – the centre is closed, do I still get paid?
The youth centres are closed, but youth work must continue. We recommend the use of web solutions (good recommendations can be found on the website of the Estonian Youth Work Centre – Eesti Noorsootöö Keskus. Be sure to provide information regarding the continuation of work in the new format. Therefore, work continues, and the salary is still earned. If there any problems related to the salary being paid, check how you can use the remuneration created for the emergency situation (töötasu hüvitis)
Vocational education, adult education and continuous education
Can work-based learning or internships continue?
Each situation must be assessed separately, but as a general principle:
Internships or work-based learning for students may continue or begin if the employer, the student, and, in the case of a minor, also a parent agree to this.
It is recommended that students living in dormitories be sent home. If a student is doing an internship at a company, has special needs or is a foreigner who cannot go home for substantiated reasons, the school may take a different decision.
The actions have to be guided by the orders of the person in charge of the emergency situation.
Can a vocational school send their students abroad on a traineeship?
The school cannot organise any trips out of the country, the situation in the country of destination might change (risks are not only related to the spread of the virus but also related to logistical issues), and upon return the students would have to remain in self-isolation.
What do students living in a dormitory / student home have to do?
The school decides, but generally, the students should be sent home. Those who do not have access to distance learning at home can stay, while avoiding contact with other students. If you are a student with special needs or a foreigner who, for good reasons, cannot go home, the school will find a solution.
How about vocational school graduates that need to present a final work (lõputöö), are there any changes?
You cannot defend the final work at school. The school together with the student must find a solution. Qualification exams are postponed.
What is going to happen with continuous education training?
We strongly recommend that you postpone the courses or use e-learning opportunities when possible. As of 25 March, in public places (such as outdoor playgrounds and open air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking and biking trails) and indoor spaces (except at home), people must keep a distance of at least 2 m from others. Only two people at most can gather in public places. This restriction does not apply to families moving around together and to people in official public functions.
Can I continue my studies at a language school?
As the goal is to avoid contacts, you should consider non-stationary attendance. Various e-learning opportunities can be used for individual learning as well. We recommend that you find a suitable application as a temporary solution. For example, the Estonian language courses are free of charge and each person can develop their language skills independently: Keeleklikk (level 0-A2) and Keeletee (level B1). Both of these courses are available in both Russian and English.
If you study individually with a teacher who is willing to give the lesson, can you?
In case of an adult learner, a solution should be found between the two parties. Certainly those who have symptoms, have been abroad, or have been exposed to a potential infection should not attend or be trained.
Exams at schools
What is going to happen with final examination?
Year 9 final examinations will not take place. The average grade of the academic year will be considered as graduation grade for lower secondary school.
If, by May 15, it is possible to allow students to return to school, state examinations for upper secondary schools will take place at the end of May and at the beginning of June, following the rules in place at that time. Consultations and preparatory lessons will take place prior to exams. The results of the state examinations will be published on June 30.
Will proficiency tests take place?
There will be no proficiency tests during this academic year.
What happens if the emergency situation lasts until the summer school holidays? Will the exams take place in the summer, or is it not possible to graduate?
Right now there is no definite position on what happens with graduations if the duration of the emergency situation extends to the beginning of the summer school holidays. The Ministry of Education and Research considers it appropriate that in that case the students are allowed graduate based on current grades.
How are students going to be admitted into an upper-secondary school or a university if the examinations will not take place?
If the situation improves sufficiently, upper-secondary school examinations may be conducted after May 15. They can be arranged as distance examinations or done in such a way that no more than 10 people gather in one room at a time, and students are dispersed in different rooms of the school building.
The conditions of admission for an upper-secondary school, vocational educational institution or tertiary educational institution is determined by each educational institution themselves. Already many universities and upper-secondary schools have confirmed to the Ministry of Education and Research that they are searching for suitable solutions and are prepared to be flexible.
When will vocational examinations take place?
All vocational examinations are postponed until the end of the crisis.
If vocational examinations are postponed, what will happen to graduation?
The conditions for completing the vocational training have not changed, a vocational examination is necessary for graduation. If it is not possible to take the vocational examination or examination is failed, then it is necessary to sit for a final exam. Vocational examination or final examination cannot be carried out during the emergency situation and all exams are postponed. It is therefore possible that the completion of vocational training will also be delayed.
Where can I find additional information or help?
If you have questions, please turn to [email protected] or call the numbers 56 900 340 or 56 900 353.
If you have questions about using the study environments E-koolikott, Opiq and Foxcademy, you can get help from:
– [email protected] , 53 703 898;
– Opiq: [email protected] , 53 237 793;
– Foxcademy: [email protected] , 56 478 884.
Could the state examinations take place during the summer, for example July or August?
Lower secondary school final examinations will not take place this academic year.
If the situation improves sufficiently, gradual return to regular schoolwork will take place starting from May 15, and the upper-secondary school examinations may be conducted at the end of May and early June. This year the graduates need to take the Estonian language (or Estonian as a second language) exam, and mathematics examination. The results of state examinations will be published on June 30.
If the emergency situation is extended further, there might be a need to cancel all examinations for this academic year. The Ministry of Education and Research is making preparations for this eventuality.
We will keep the public apprised of all the changes.
Special needs education
How is learning organized in SEN schools?
In institutions where full transition to distance learning is not possible, the studies are organized on a case-by-case basis, in cooperation with the school teachers while taking into account the individuality of each student. However, all parents who have the opportunity to do so should leave the children at home. Sick and ill children should not be allowed into school. The Ministry of Education and Research will send additional instructions to the SEN schools and will be in contact with them. Parents will get information from the school.
How the topics that are covered will be evaluated for students with SEN? How does the evaluation work? How are absences accounted for? How to ensure that students will not fall behind in the curriculum?
The organization of studies of students with SEN does not differ from the one established by the Government of the Republic, according to which the studies are conducted at a distance. The detailed conditions of the study (including assessment) are organized by the school. Absences are not marked in the usual way. The school and teachers organize and monitor the study progress. Well-organized distance learning ensures usual progress in the curriculum. The Rajaleidja educational counselling service centers are prepared to support all schools and teachers in providing home-schooling and distance learning for children with special needs.
I am currently studying abroad and my university was closed. Do I have to pay for the tuition, rent, airplane tickets to Estonia?
Paying tuition takes place according to the contract signed with the university and in an emergency situation paying it depends on the university’s decisions or separate agreements. The same applies for living costs. If you consider it necessary to return to Estonia because of the emergency situation, you must cover the costs yourself. First you should definitely get to know the restrictions regarding returning to Estonia from abroad.
Can the Estonian state somehow support me with covering the costs involved in suspending my studies abroad?
Unfortunately not, as going to study abroad and suspending your studies there were your own personal decisions.
What do I need to do if I want to quit my studies abroad and come to Estonia?
Suspending your studies abroad depends on the rules of the university and/or the contract of study signed with the university. In Estonia it is possible to enter universities according to the conditions and timeframe set by the schools. It might be possible to transfer experience and credits acquired in the framework of the recognition of prior learning and work experience procedure.
My learning mobility/project is starting soon and requires me to go abroad. May I go?
No, you have to postpone leaving Estonia until the emergency situation ends.
Foreigners are about to arrive in Estonia in the framework of my Erasmus project. Can I receive them?
No, receiving foreign groups has to be cancelled or postponed until the emergency situation ends.
I am currently doing a learning mobility/project abroad. Can I come back and who would cover the costs?
Those who are currently participating in a project or learning mobility can come back if they wish to and their costs go under the force majeure clause in the support contract. The Archimedes Foundation accepts the costs in the framework of the support contract if the insurance contract does not cover the costs (on the basis of the decision of the insurance provider) and the provider of the support has used all options to recover the costs incurred. In order to continue studies at a foreign university, it would be useful to learn what kind of solutions related to studying are on offer from the foreign university. In many cases it is possible to continue through distance studies. Any changes in your learning mobility should definitely be notified to your home university.
I have already incurred costs for a current/planned learning mobility/project. May I continue with the project?
You may continue with the project if the project/learning mobility allows carrying out activities that do not require mobility, and this has been agreed upon with the partners. All activities regarding travelling and international events planned to take place before May 1, 2020 need to be postponed and we ask that you don’t incur any costs for that period. Depending on the activities of the project, it might be feasible to postpone the deadline of the project. To specify the deadline of the postponement, please contact your home university or project coordinator and project partners.
I have already incurred costs from my current/planned learning mobility/project, but I/my partners do not wish to go forward with the project. What should we do?
If needed, the learning mobility/project can be postponed, cancelled or suspended due to the emergency situation, or, if possible, the project can be continued from a distance. Please discuss future activities with your partner and inform your other partners of the plans too, as well as the sending organisation/university, who in turn will inform the Archimedes Foundation.
If the project is suspended, the Archimedes Foundation will accept costs that fall under the framework agreement if your insurance agreement doesn’t cover the costs (first, you need their decision), and if the beneficiary has used all other options to recover the costs that have already incurred.
There is still plenty of time to the beginning of my learning mobility/project (it starts after May 1, 2020). What should I take into account in my planning?
Right now, the learning mobility/project activities that involve travelling and international events have been postponed until May 1, 2020. You should take into account that due to the emergency situation it might become necessary to postpone activities that involve travel even further. That is why it is more sensible to wait and follow the information regarding learning mobility/projects on the web page of the Archimedes Foundation. We recommend keeping in touch with your learning mobility/project partner, discussing further cooperation options in this new situation etc., for instance finding ways to start the project/learning mobility from a distance.
You should also look at the web page of the Archimedes Foundation: http://archimedes.ee/sihtasutuse-archimedes-teadaanne-seoses-opirande-ja-rahvusvaheliste-koostooprojektidega-covid-19-eriolukorras/.
Follow the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s current travel information by country: https://reisitargalt.vm.ee/.
I am participating in a programme of the European Solidarity Corps and my project is about to start and requires that I go abroad. Can I go?
No, leaving Estonia must be postponed until the emergency situation ends.
I am currently abroad participating in a European Solidarity Corps project. May I come back and who would be covering the costs?
Those participating in projects abroad right now may come back and their costs go under the force majeure clause of the support contract. The Archimedes Foundation will accept the costs in the framework of the support contract if the insurance contract does not cover the costs (on the basis of the decision of the insurance provider) and the recipient of the support has used all options to recover the costs incurred.
I have already incurred costs for a current/planned European Solidarity Corps project. May I continue with the project?
You may continue with the project if the project allows carrying out activities that do not require mobility, and this has been agreed upon with the partners. All activities regarding travelling and international events planned to take place before May 1, 2020 need to be postponed and we ask that you don’t incur any costs for that period. Depending on the activities of the project, it might be feasible to postpone the deadline of the project. To specify the deadline of the postponement, please contact your project coordinator and/or project partners.
I have already incurred costs for a current/planned European Solidarity Corps project but I/my partners do not wish to continue with the project. What do I need to do?
Should it be necessary, the project activities can be postponed, cancelled or suspended due to the emergency situation, or, if possible, the project can be continued from a distance. Please discuss this with your partner to make a decision about future activities and inform your other partners and the sending organisation who in turn will inform the Archimedes Foundation.
If the decision is to suspend the project, the Archimedes Foundation will accept the costs in the framework of the support contract if the insurance contract does not cover the costs (on the basis of the decision of the insurance provider) and the support provider has used all options to recover the costs incurred.
My solidarity corps project will begin in the future (after May 1, 2020). How should I proceed?
Right now, the project activities that involve travelling and international events have been postponed until May 1, 2020. You should take into account that due to the emergency situation it might become necessary to postpone activities that involve travel even further. That is why it is more sensible to wait and follow the relevant information on the web page of the Archimedes Foundation. We recommend keeping in touch with your project partner, discussing further cooperation options in this new situation.
You should also look at the web page of the Archimedes Foundation: http://archimedes.ee/sihtasutuse-archimedes-teadaanne-seoses-opirande-ja-rahvusvaheliste-koostooprojektidega-covid-19-eriolukorras/
Follow the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s current travel information by country: https://reisitargalt.vm.ee/.
Do the Horizon 2020 science programme projects continue?
The projects will continue unless it has been notified otherwise. The Estonian Research Council postponed the final deadline for the 2020 research grant applications by a week – from March 31 to April 7 (at 5pm). All applicants who cannot access the necessary sources (i.e. because the library stopped offering the service of lending books home) or who cannot submit the application by the deadline because of a force majeure due to the emergency situation should immediately contact the Estonian Research Council’s sector coordinator or head of the Department of Research Funding.
Should the emergency situation create obstacles to fulfilling the current research projects (i.e. if post-docs who have personal research grants have problems with staying abroad or going abroad; if there are problems with carrying out planned patient research or field work etc.) please contact the Estonian Research Council’s sector coordinator or head of the Department of Research Funding immediately to discuss the necessary changes, including the necessity to suspend the project.
You can find more specific information on the web page of the Estonian Research Council.
Information on postponed or cancelled events and rounds of application can be found on the Estonian Research Council H2020 web page.
Does force majeure apply to Horizon 2020 projects?
Using the force majeure clause has been provided for in Article 51 of the H2020 model contract. The costs are covered if they meet the general support eligibility requirements provided in Article 6 of the H2020 model contract. For instance, if a meeting/event in cancelled because of force majeure, travel and housing costs can still be covered from the H2020 instrument if the eligibility criteria are fulfilled, even if the receiver of the support did not travel or participate in the meeting/event. If force majeure causes further costs in order to carry out an activity, these costs are eligible if they are necessary to carry out the activity (i.e. the cancelled conference is organised later).
It is not possible to increase the support sum of the project, though.
If an emergency or unforeseen situation occurs, the receivers of the support must immediately contact the financing institution who will investigate the possible implementation of force majeure rules on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, the receivers of the support must do everything possible to limit the damage caused by the unforeseen circumstances (i.e. try to cancel the airplane tickets, apply for a compensation for a cancelled flight from the insurance provider etc.)
Cybersecurity, distance work, distance learning
Is distance working really a safe choice?
If it is done correctly and knowingly, distance working is certainly safe. Even though the current emergency situation, where many people work from home, does increase the danger that companies and their employees fall victim to a cyber attack or cyber fraud, these risks can be brought down to a minimum by following elementary cyber hygiene requirements. In turn, by safely doing distance work you lower the risk of coronavirus infection for yourself as well as others.
What are the most common current threats?
Because information regarding the coronavirus is understandably the focus people’s of interests right now, the distributors of malware are using it as well — all over the world letters are sent out with links or attachments that contain a document that seemingly might give the receiver new information about the spread of the virus. We are also aware that a map of the spread of the virus is being used as bait. These letters infect your computer with malware that could steal your passwords and other data.
The growing popularity of distance working is also being exploited. Working from home, people often need to join different central services, file sharing platforms or communication networks. If you receive a letter that calls on you to click on another link in order to join a work-related group, make sure that this really is a group or a service that you have arranged with your employer.
In the case of work e-mails, you have to remember that invoice fraud and CEO fraud schemes are quite common in cyber crime. If your boss (who is currently probably not with you) asks you to transfer money from the company’s account to a completely unexpected bank account, confirm through some other prearranged channel of communication whether she is sure about that. If a business partner in another country asks you to send a payment for services to a new bank account, confirm this with him over the phone or some other channel of communication.
Recent times have seen a resurgence in the spread of payroll scams where an employer seemingly asks the head of personnel to transfer her wages to a new bank account as of next month. This request is actually being sent by cyber criminals who end up getting the money. In a payroll scam the cyber criminals send a short e-mail in quite convincing Estonian to the head of personnel under the name of an employee, asking that the wages be transferred to a new bank account as of next month. For this they use visual scams, replacing a letter in a name or barely noticeably altering the domain name (ettevõte.ee vs ettveõte.ee). They might also take advantage of insufficient security of the e-mail account and impersonate the e-mail address of an employee in a way that is difficult to distinguish for a layman.
At the beginning of the crisis, there was a spread of English-language phone calls asking access to the recipient’s computer in Estonia. The calls came from foreign phone numbers and the caller introduced himself as a representative of an internationally well-known company. Referring to the current situation where many work in home offices and the need to keep the equipment used for distance work secure, the callers asked for access to the computer. The reason they gave was a wish to check that the device is secure enough. At refusal the caller did not end the call but steadfastly continued asking for access. The goal of the fraudsters might have been to steal passwords or bank card data. These kinds of calls might also be used to sell scareware products that seemingly find malware in the victim’s computer. By paying the fraudsters you unfortunately really get rid of your money and only seemingly get rid of the so-called malware that wasn’t in the computer in the first place.
What software should be used for video- or teleconferencing?
The main important thing is to come to an agreement with your colleagues and close ones on what channels of communication are used for the distance communication during the emergency situation. You children, for instance, have similar agreement with their teachers and friends on which channels they use. It is always good to find out more about these channels of communication, to establish which are not only easy to use but also safest from a message confidentiality point of view — in case you have to share confidential business information with your business partners. Read through the terms and conditions! At the same time, keep an eye on what channels of communication are the safest for your child’s health and welfare.
As distance working will continue both in Estonia and the rest of the world for quite a while longer, there will probably also be campaigns where criminals try to spread malware or steal data by impersonating different distance working applications. We have seen that the popularity of some videoconferencing platforms has been exploited for spreading malware — the victim is left with an impression that he has received a link from such a programme or a link is shared that seems to be connected to some such programme but leads to a web page that is being used to collect user data.
The Centre of Registers and Information Systems stresses to the employees of ministries and agencies that information that has been labelled as restricted (AK) can only be forwarded on a videoconferencing system that is controlled by the holder of the information (is hosted in the ICT infrastructure of the holder of the information). If it is not possible to use this kind of a system, the restricted information cannot be forwarded through a videoconference.
What are the recommendations regarding passwords?
Distance working and learning requires constantly logging into places and inserting passwords. This might create a temptation to use one and the same (and as simple as possible) password everywhere. It would be used to enter work, school, store, social media, chat rooms and gaming sites. But if this one password should leak (and passwords do leak from time to time!) the hackers will see whether the already leaked passwords and usernames can be used to enter other places as well.
One possibility to use different passwords in different places in a way that you do not need to remember the long passwords yourself is to see what options are being offered by password managers. There are several, they can be used for free (e.g. LastPass, Keepass, 1Password) and in this way you only need to remember one long password for your password manager.
But as work done at home, e-mail addresses and all kinds of accounts are currently vitally important for work, study and communication, an important assistant for securing your accounts is multi-factor authentication. This means that even if somebody does get hold of your password (with phishing, malware or previously leaked passwords), they still can’t access your e-mail account without a code that is in your phone. No, you do not need to enter the code every time you want to log into Gmail. But if someone tries to get access to your e-mail account from a geographically distant location, they will not be successful.
Do devices that are used for distance working or learning need to be prepared somehow?
Make sure that both your and your child’s computer or device has the latest possible software. This is vitally important! If the software is expired, your computer might get infected by just visiting a suspicious web page.
If you know how to find the settings of your smart television, your router and your Internet-connected web camera, you should update their software regularly as well. All this so that the devices in your home could not be used to attack anyone else. Just as you don’t want to be the one who transmits the virus.
Additionally, it is important to check whether the anti-virus software of your devices has been able to regularly update itself. Anti-virus never protects you from all the threats — malware creators are always a step ahead of anti-virus programmes. But if a malware has already circled the globe several times, the anti-virus programmes will also recognize them and stop them before they manage to infect your computer or the computers of those close to you.
Definitely find out whether the people close to you have the latest versions of operations systems and anti-virus software in their computers. In the Windows operation systems, for instance, this means updating the Windows Defender definitions.
How to ensure data retention?
There is one more good way to reduce stress about your work and studies during these unusual times: backing up your data. Nobody wants to redo work that they have already done. But we know that devices sometimes break or, even worse, get infected with malware that will not allow access to the data anymore. Schoolchildren might initially find it great that they can say that they could not submit their schoolwork because the computer was not working but in the end even they will still have to redo this work. Losing your work because of ransomware or a device that has unexpectedly broken down is an even bigger worry.
There is a vast array of commercial cloud solutions for backing up your work (Google Drive, Microsoft Onedrive, Amazon Drive, Dropbox) that back up your documents automatically over the Internet. It is your task to save your files to a correct drive and to find your documents again on another device if something happens to yours.
We recommend using an external hard drive or a memory stick as well, to back up your most important data. In the case of large data it can, on one hand, this might make restoring your data faster, on the other hand, keeping large data volumes in cloud solutions is more expensive than using external data carriers. Find out from your employer what backup solutions are even acceptable to them — is keeping work documents in a cloud even allowed or does the company have different rules.
My child is online for days on end — e-school, socializing with friends, just passing time. What should I keep in mind?
Show regular interest in what your child is doing on the computer. It is more comfortable to do this if the screen of the child’s computer is placed so that it can be read easily when passing by. Be interested, communicate, ask. Try to find time for this even when you are distance working yourself.
I am a head of a company. What should I pay special attention to?
On April 8, the internationally recognized collection of cybersecurity measures “CIS 20 Controls” was made available in Estonian by the Information System Authority. This is a tool that was developed by recognized cybersecurity experts and can be used by IT managers and all others who are responsible for the field of IT in their company, in order to ensure cybersecurity in their company. The latest version of the CIS 20 measures also differentiates between measures that are meant to be implemented by large, but also small and medium sized companies. The Estonian version of the collection of measures and relevant short instructions and instructional videos in Estonian and Russian can be found at https://www.ria.ee/et/kuberturvalisus/ennetus-ja-nouanded/nouanded.html.
Even though it might not be possible for you to implement these measures before the end of the current emergency situation, it is still worth doing it consistently in medium and longer term perspective. This way you will safely survive both possible future single cyberattacks and future emergency situations.
Additionally, see https://www.itl.ee/uudised/itl-soovitab-ettevotetel-kaugtoo-korraldus-labi-moelda/. In its original language – English – the measures can be found here: https://www.cisecurity.org/controls/cis-controls-list/.
Are the special rules in force regarding the processing of personal data during the emergency situation?
The Data Protection Inspectorate has issued detailed positions on this:
a) About processing the personal data of employees in the context of the coronavirus (https://www.aki.ee/et/uudised/tootajate-isikuandmete-tootlemisest-koroonaviiruse-kontekstis).
b) The statement of the European Data Protection Board regarding COVID-19 (https://www.aki.ee/et/uudised/euroopa-andmekaitsenoukogu-avaldus-seoses-covid19-ga).
c) Can an employee be compelled to reveal everything about his health condition? (https://www.aki.ee/et/uudised/kas-tootajat-saab-kohustada-raakima-koike-oma-tervislikust-seisundist).
What should be kept in mind after the crisis?
After the crisis is over, everybody should keep continuously following the requirements of cyber hygiene. Both authorities and companies should remember the fact that the IT field has long ago stopped being a small fraction of the company that has only a supportive role, rather becoming sometimes the most critical part, as all work is being done in computers and the information necessary for the company or authority to function is stored in servers or on hard drives.
What are the five most important recommendations for safe online conduct?
Don’t open attachments or links from unknown senders.
Don’t believe threatening letters from unknown senders that demand that you act quickly.
Don’t give an unknown caller access to your computer.
Make sure that you are using the latest version of software and that all security updates have been installed.
Regularly back up the files in your computer and on your phone.
Also see the newest entries at https://blog.ria.ee/.
Is there more cyber fraud than usual during the emergency situation?
No, rather the number of cyber incidents registered by the Information System Authority has remained at a level similar to the period before the crisis. But, considering the extent of distance working that is currently being done, the total risks have still increased. The information Security Authority has seen that cyber fraudsters both in Estonia and the rest of the world are trying to take advantage of the coronavirus in a new way — for instance, an e-mail containing malware has been disguised as virus-related information from the Health Board.
For more specifics, see https://www.err.ee/1068027/tonu-tammer-kuberkurjamid-rakendasid-koroonaviiruse-oma-vankri-ette and https://www.ria.ee/et/kuberturvalisus/olukord-kuberruumis.html.
Does the State offer compensations to event organisers and institutions for the losses caused by cancelled events?
The crisis has hit the cultural sector, the consequences are being addressed, and new information is still coming in.
The crisis package for the sector of culture and sports is EUR 25 Million, the Ministry of Culture will use these funds to guarantee sustainability of the cultural organisations. The additional budget aims to cover unavoidable costs, and to support creative liberal professions, coaches, and folk group leaders. The package is divided into two: support for the livelihood assistance of natural persons operating in the sectors of sports and culture (total amount of EUR 5.2 million), and the support for cancelled cultural and sports events and partial compensation for interrupted activities for the costs already incurred, and for unavoidable future fixed costs of the organisations (total amount of 19.8 million euros). Support will go to the state-level, municipal-level and private sector operators. When developing the support measures, the aim is to create a simple and fast system of applications and processing of applications. The idea is to establish very similar criteria and requirements for large groups of applicants. Similarly, it is important to bear in mind the needs of cultural organisations and organisations financed from Ministry´s calls for proposals. The Ministry of Culture also calls the institutions to use the Estonian Unemployment Fund measure for salaries and wages support, creative enterprises can also benefit from the calls for proposals by Enterprise Estonia. Details of funding are currently under development, and the Ministry of Culture would like to start receiving proposals by the end of April.
More information on the website of the Ministry of Culture. http://www.kul.ee/et/uudised/korduma-kippuvad-kusimused-koroonaviiruse-levik-ja-kultuurivaldkond
Details of allocation of funds are under development.
The Cultural Endowment of Estonia has introduced a measure for the emergency situation which would allow for the foundations and county expert groups to allocate special grants for the purposes of maintaining creative and sporting activities. For additional information see: kulka.ee. https://kulka.ee/uudised/eesti-kultuurkapitali-noukogu-poordumine-ja-erimeetmed-kriisi-leevendamiseks
The Government has adopted a support package which suspends the advance payment of social taxes for natural person entrepreneurs, so self-employed persons do not have to pay the social tax advance for the first quarter. https://www.emta.ee/et/uudised/riik-toetab-fie-sid-sotsiaalmaksu-tasumisega
The Tax and Customs Board suspended interest payments on tax debts from March 1, until the end of the emergency situation. When the emergency situation is over, the interest on tax debt will be reduced by half (from 0.06 % to 0.03).
Compensation for reduced remuneration will be provided by the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund for the total amount of EUR 250 million – more information: https://www.tootukassa.ee/content/tootasu-huvitis
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has established an e-mail address for businesses: [email protected]
Creative liberal professions may receive creative activity support from professional associations based on the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act. More information here. https://www.kul.ee/et/loomeliidud-ja-vabakutseliste-loovisikute-loometoetus. The Ministry of Culture is working to increase the budget for support of creative activities, as the crisis is likely to hit liberal creative professions especially hard. Additional 1200 creative liberal professionals may receive creative support from the additional budget. This includes any kind of creative profession, membership in a creative association is not obligatory.
What cultural establishments are closed?
According to the decision of the Government emergency crisis committee, all cultural establishments are closed. The museums and cinemas closed their doors until May 1, all theatre performances but also conferences and all other popular gatherings are cancelled. Sporting facilities are closed, with an exception in place for the approximately 115 Estonian sportsmen and –women, coaches and assistant personnel who participate in preparations for the Olympic Games. Some exceptions might also apply to libraries (see below).
Does closure mean that there will be no staff in the institutions?
It is up to the managers to decide whether or not the day-to-day work of the institutions continues. Due to the varying nature of work of different bodies, it is not possible to impose a uniform rule for all institutions. If necessary and possible, rehearsals for performances, preparation of exhibitions and office work may continue. Institutions are definitely closed to visitors. The Ministry of Culture has reduced the number of employees simultaneously present in the office to a minimum, all events and meetings are banned.
How long will the restrictions last?
The restrictions will remain in effect until May 1, unless the government decides otherwise. Decisions are made according to the dynamics of the situation, and the government together with ministries and agencies will keep the public and authorities informed.
Do all entertainment establishments, restaurants, entertainment establishments on the ships, nightclubs also close their doors?
The purpose of government restrictions is to prevent people from gathering. Nightclubs and other similar gathering places are closed like other cultural institutions during the coronavirus spread. The sale of cruises on the Tallinn-Stockholm-Tallinn route has been stopped. Hobby schools are closed. Eating places, bars and entertainment establishments must be closed starting from 22:00 on the evening of March 27, except for takeaway and food delivery. Entertainment and recreational establishments (i.e. bowling and pool halls, hookah cafes and adult clubs) are also closed.
Will events, for example, plays and concerts definitely be cancelled, or is it possible that they will be postponed?
This is something each organiser decides for themselves, according to their judgement and means. These organisations will be the ones to inform you of any changes to their schedules or programmes. This has also been done already and the public has been notified of changes. Keep an eye on the notifications that the organisers publish.
What about pre-sold tickets?
In addition to returning the money, the organizer of the event can offer an alternative event time or give a gift card. If the consumer is not satisfied with these options, he/she is entitled to a refund. As the number of affected events is very high, one is asked to exercise patience. Over 100,000 tickets have been sold for events canceled or delayed during these few months.
What is the financial loss caused by the Coronavirus in the cultural field?
The data is being updated. The revenue not received by the state agencies and foundations affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, due to the crisis until May 1, is about EUR 5.4 million. The mapping of financial damage to the rest of the cultural field, including the private sector, is ongoing.
Can private cultural operators count on state support if the event is cancelled or tickets are returned?
If the cancelled or postponed event has received support from the state budget, please immediately inform the Ministry of Culture. Issues related to a cancelled or postponed event and state support will be resolved on a case-by-case basis. Grants will not be reclaimed all over the board.
Do language courses at Estonian language houses continue?
Courses at the facilities of Estonian language houses in Tallinn and Narva have been suspended just like the activities of all other entities. The learning continues through e-channels. The Integration Foundation (INSA) is offering the help of voluntary mentors for people who wish to practice Estonian. The Facebook page of the Estonian language house is offering recommendations for independent language study. More info and contacts from: https://www.integratsioon.ee
How does the emergency situation impact the Ministry of Culture’s upcoming and ongoing rounds of application?
Rounds of application that are focused on events have been temporarily suspended or the deadline for submitting applications has been extended. Please read the general information on the web page of the ministry. However, the rounds of application for music festivals and major events in the second half of 2020, for developing rural architecture and supporting partner organisations will continue. More specific information can be found for each round separately on the web page of the ministry.
What does it mean if a library is open “with restrictions”?
Library services are very different, so there is a possibility that some libraries can at least to some extent carry on providing their services. Information is provided by local authorities and libraries themselves. The general recommendation of the Ministry of Culture is that services without direct and immediate contact between people may continue. If necessary and if possible, the services of the library can continue to include e-service and e-lending, answering queries by e-mail and telephone, obtaining and registering new books, and newspapers and magazines, stock taking, etc. As it is not advisable for the elderly to go to the library, the provision of contactless home services could be temporarily extended, if unavoidable.
When providing services, even to a limited extent, it is essential to follow the instructions of the Health Board.
When cleaning returned items, we urge everybody to follow the Health Board’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfection.
Infection risk is connected mostly to contacts between people, not to books handed from one person to another. The Health Board has no information about transmission via books. The Health Board recommends not to touch the book for 72 hours after it has been returned. Disinfection is no longer necessary afterwards.
What kind of activities can take place in open-air and using outdoor facilities?
Access to open air sports facilities (e.g. golf courses, tennis courts, cross-bike trails) is limited. There may be up to 2 people (this restriction does not apply to families) in a public place together, and a 2-metre distance needs to be kept from other people. These requirements also apply to sports facilities. If these requirements are met, the use of the facility is permitted privately. The owners of the facilities must ensure compliance with all the existing requirements.
If the use of an open-air sports facility involves paying a fee, it is important to make sure that the payment can be made without violating any restrictions (indoor facilities will not be accessible, no additional services will be offered, etc.).
Also, you have to keep in mind that all public gatherings, including sports competitions are prohibited. This means that no training sessions or joint activities can be organised in an open-air sports facility (or anywhere else) which is co-ordinated centrally by a sports club, trainer or a coach.
Will the coaching allowance continue to be paid in the Emergency Situation?
Applying for and granting the coaching allowance and paying your salary will continue as usual. On-site inspections by the Sports Training and Information Foundation will not be organized until the situation normalises.
Is it possible to enjoy culture and sport at all during the state of emergency?
The Coronavirus is unlikely to spread while spending time in the open air. The Ministry of Culture has collected and is continuing to gather on their website opportunities to experience culture between the walls of one’s home, please take a look at the information!
Spaces surrounding manor houses, parks, nature trails, other cultural sites – these can also be visited, but even in the open air no events or joint training sessions are allowed, and common sense must be used. Students can train independently through the means of distance learning or with the help of online resources. We encourage you to read books, watch movies, read to the children.
As of 25 March, in public places (such as outdoor playgrounds and open air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking and biking trails) and indoor spaces (except at home), people must keep a distance of at least 2 m from others. Only two people at most can gather in public places. This restriction does not apply to families moving around together and to people in official public functions.
Would it be possible to make plans for a training camp or a competition in Estonia or abroad for the coming summer or autumn? Is there a limit on the number of participants?
The emergency situation is in force until May 1, unless the government decides otherwise. Currently it is not possible to make clear predictions about the end of restrictions, because everything depends on the progression of pandemic and the virus transmission rate. It is not advisable to plan larger gatherings in the first half of the summer.
Is it allowed to hold individual training sessions in a gym where the athlete is alone with the coach? Would it be possible in the open-air setting?
Indoor training is prohibited. Sports clubs are closed. Individual training sessions may be carried in the open-air, if the 2-by-2 rules and other existing requirements of the emergency situation are observed. No training sessions or joint activities can be organised in an open-air sports facility (or anywhere else) which is co-ordinated centrally by a sports club, trainer or a coach.
Can the staff of a sports club use the gym for exercising, and provide training over internet?
Sports clubs are closed, no gathering of people is allowed. As for any cultural establishments, it is the question of the internal organisation of work of the institution who is allowed to be on the premises and what kind of activities are allowed. However, it is important to consider the special requirements in force during the emergency situation, including the urgent requirement to stay home. All contacts must be minimised in order to stop the spread of the virus in the current situation.
Why can´t I play football or basketball with friends outside?
Due to the emergency situation, gathering of people is prohibited. If this restriction is not observed, the virus can spread faster and threaten human life and health. We recommend finding ways of getting exercise which do not violate the 2-by-2 rule.
Is it allowed to organise a drive-in movie event, if the maximum number of people in the car is 2 people?
The person in charge of the emergency situation has issued an order prohibiting all types of cinemas. This would constitute a public event, and a permit will not be issued for a public event. A drive-in movie theatre would not be only the people in the cars because for a public event it is important to ensure access to public toilets, security service, technical support, etc, this would mean the presence of too many people, creating an unforeseeable number of contacts between people.
Is it possible to continue using outdoor tennis courts during the emergency situation? For example, if a family rents the court, or the tennis lesson only includes a coach and a student.
During the emergency situation the sports clubs are closed, therefore it is not possible to rent a tennis court, and the coaches cannot offer training sessions. If it is possible to observe the emergency situation restrictions on an open-air sports facility, then private use of the facility is permitted (although often the access to the facilities is restricted due to the emergency situation).
A family can exercise together outdoors but this is really meant for the immediate family, exercises for groups cannot be organised centrally (for example, by a sports club).
How would it be possible to help people who have no internet or computer at home, and they only have an old push-button phone. Until now, they have been using libraries to read e-mails and pay their invoices.
The Ministry of Culture is aware that the possibility to use the library internet access point is very important for some people, regardless the emergency situation.
The Ministry of Culture will deliver a message through county libraries to request the municipalities to consider whether it would be possible to open at least one of the municipal libraries´ internet access point for the use of national e-services. The Ministry also requests to make this information available to the general public regarding the possibilities of using national e-services on websites of local authorities and libraries.
Consumer rights and business owners’ rights – travelling, events, gift cards, tickets, loans, leases, commerce
My flight was cancelled, what are my rights?
If the airline cancels the flight, the passenger has the right to a refund (if the flight departed from the EU or a third country, but the flight was operated by an EU carrier). In addition, the passenger is entitled to the assistance and support of the airline, such as providing food or accommodation if the person was not allowed to board the flight and is waiting for the first available replacement flight. It should be taken into account that the offering of a substitution route as soon as possible may not be objectively possible for the airline at the moment.
If a passenger chooses the refund of the ticket or another flight at a later date, then the airline is no longer obliged to provide food or accommodation.
We ask passengers to take into account that, at the moment, airlines face delays in responding to requests and claims. We ask the passengers for their understanding and patience! Further information on the rights of air passengers in the current situation can also be found in the overview published by the European Commission.
My flight and accommodation have been booked separately but I do not wish to travel. What can I do?
Please contact the agent who sold the tickets and accommodation, or contact the airline or the hotel directly, and check whether you can cancel the booking and get the refund. At the moment the businesses might experience delays in responding to requests and claims. We ask the customs for their understanding and patience!
Will travel insurance cover the costs caused by the coronavirus?
The terms of the travel insurance depend on the details of the contract, such as which regions you are travelling to, for how long, and whether you have travel interruption insurance. If you have travel insurance you should contact the insurer to find out more exactly what is covered by the insurance and under what conditions.
Does travel insurance even apply in a situation, where the World Health Organisation has declared a global pandemic due to the spread of the coronavirus?
When it comes to travel insurance, it is by nature a voluntary type of insurance. When a contract is signed, the insurer and the insured agree to the conditions (insurance events) for when the insurer has the obligation to perform, i.e. compensate the damages. That is why the insured is not entitled to compensation for any kinds of damages, but just the damages that the two sides have agreed to ahead of time. The insurer’s terms state, which cases are insurance events for the insurers and which are not. In addition, the insurance terms and conditions usually also list exceptions for situations, where an insurance event has happened, but it is caused by an exception stipulated in the conditions, and then the incurred damage is not subject to compensation.
The Estonian Association of Insurance Undertakings (Eesti Kindlustusseltside Liit) has developed good practices for travel insurance, and according to this document, insurers generally do not compensate damages caused by a pandemic/epidemic or by the activities of authorities. Here it does not matter whether the travel insurance was bought before the pandemic was declared or after. Whether your insurer compensates the damages that have incurred depends on that specific insurer. For example, some insurers have notified clients that they will compensate treatment costs, additional accommodation and transport costs related to being quarantined, etc.
If I am still travelling abroad and I have travel insurance, which is still in effect, will my insurer also cover expenses related to the coronavirus outbreak?
This depends on your specific insurer and the terms of your contract. In general, however, insurers do not compensate costs if a person is already travelling in an area, where a quarantine is put into effect, causing the person to not be able to come home on time and incurring extra expenses for that traveller.
What should I do if due to the virus outbreak a planned flight is cancelled or if a travel destination is closed due to quarantine?
If it was a package tour, the first contact should be the tour operator. If the tour operator cancels the tour, the traveller has the right to a full reimbursement of the travel costs. The travellers cannot claim any additional damages.
If the parties agree, the return of an advance payment can also be replaced by changing the travel dates to a later date or package tour gift cards (the package tour gift card has to be guaranteed with a tour operator’s warranty) that the traveller can use later as they see fit.
If it was not a package tour, you have to turn to the airline or the accommodation provider directly.
If an airline cancels the flight, the traveller has the right to be reimbursed for the plane tickets, provided that the point of departure was in the European Union or in a third country but the flight was operated by a European Union carrier. Instead of getting the money back, the passenger has the option to choose a suitable later date of travel.
When it comes to the accommodation provider, it all depends on what the parties had agreed on, as this is a service that is provided outside of Estonia and as a rule, the company was also not established in Estonia. If the contract says that the booking cannot be cancelled, you unfortunately have to come to terms with the fact that the company will not return the advance payment.
If the traveller has travel insurance and the service provider is not reimbursing the costs, it might be worthwhile to see whether the terms of the insurance contract allow for getting compensation from the insurance provider.
Where can I find information on cancelled flights?
Frequently Asked Questions about the effects of coronavirus on air traffic have been published on Tallinn Airport’s website, providing the most up-to-date information at https://www.tallinn-airport.ee/en/news/faq-main-questions-of-passengers-concerning-the-coronavirus/
I got sick during a trip, will insurance cover my treatment costs?
In order for an insurer to cover costs related to an unexpected illness, you have to have entered into a medical insurance agreement ahead of time. Generally, when you purchase travel insurance, it is a mandatory part of even entering into contract with them, meaning that without medical insurance you usually can’t even get travel insurance.
Insurance companies do cover treatment costs for any viral infections based on the medical insurance, since those kinds of illnesses are always unexpected, and in this context falling ill due to the coronavirus is also considered an insurance event. According to the medical insurance, costs related to treating the coronavirus illness are covered only as long as there is an epidemic declared in that area.
If a person decides to travel to an epidemic area and contracts the coronavirus disease, then the related treatment costs are no longer covered by medical insurance, because this case is considered to be one, where a person knowingly endangers themselves.
I am on a package tour and I want to return to Estonia before the tour ends. What should I do?
A traveller who is in difficulty during a package tour has the right to contact the tour operator, who should immediately provide any assistance that is needed. This includes helping the traveller to find alternative travel options, including an earlier return flight. The tour operator is only obliged to help find a return flight, but does not have to pay the cost of the ticket for that flight. The tour operator may require the traveller to pay reasonable costs for this assistance if it has been provided at the choice of the traveller or because the traveller has been negligent. In the current case, where the desire to return early has been provoked by the state of emergency, the tour operator cannot demand such compensation from the traveller.
What happens to the tour package if the passanger decides to return from the trip early and not to use the rest of the package?
If a passenger wishes to return home before the end of the trip due to the emergency situation declared in Estonia, they are not entitled to claim refund for the services not rendered. This rule applies if the tour operator would be prepared and able to provide services as part of the package tour according to the original agreement.
What happens if I stay to the end of my package tour and the state closes the borders in the meantime?
In that case the tour operator may not be able to complete their contractual obligation to bring the traveller back to Estonia. If unavoidable or extraordinary circumstances make it impossible for return travel to be organised, the tour operator bears the costs of accommodation for travellers for up to three nights per traveller. After three nights, the traveller is responsible for their own accommodation costs. The accommodation should be of the same category as that agreed in the package contract, though in unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, the tour operator may not always be able to provide the same level of accommodation.
The restriction of three nights’ accommodation costs does not apply:
if a package tour is part of a return flight to the place of departure;
if the European Union legislation regarding the rights of passangers applicable to the relevant means of transport which is being used by the passanger for their return trip requires the travel agent to cover the accommodation costs of the passanger over a longer period of time;
for persons with reduced mobility and their assistants, pregnant women and unaccompanied minors, and persons who need special medical assistance, provided that the travel operator has been informed of their specific needs at least 48 hours before the start of the package tour.
In these cases, the travel agent must also bear the cost of longer accommodation for the passenger, if necessary.
What are my rights if the tour operator decides to bring the travellers back from the tour early because of the state of emergency?
The package tour will have ended early at the decision of the tour operator, and so the tour operator would in that case have to provide the traveller with new earlier return flights at no extra cost. If possible any return flight should be equivalent to or of better quality than that originally agreed in the package contract. If a return flight of at least the same value cannot be offered, the traveller may have the right to a discount for the return flight part of the package.
The parties may agree, for example, to accept a gift voucher or promise of a discount on the price of the future trip to compensate for any part lost from the earlier return of the package tour. If these options are not suitable, the price of the passenger’s package tour may be reduced proportionally to the lost share of the package tour.
The passenger cannot claim any damages from the travel agent in addition to the refund of cost, as the breach of the contract is due to unavoidable and exceptional circumstances.
We ask passengers to take into account that at the moment travel agents may experience delays in responding to requests and claims. We ask the passengers for their understanding and patience!
The tour operator has not cancelled my package tour, but I do not want to travel. What should I do?
Many tour operators have now cancelled scheduled package travel in the near future, but the situation is rapidly changing. Circumstances change, and trips planned in a few months’ time or after half a year may take place. Therefore, it is not necessary to rush with cancellation of travel plan unless it is for immediate future. It is worth taking some time to calmly assess whether the cancellation is inevitable. If, however, the tour operator has not cancelled the trip planned for near future, it is good to know that the passenger has the right to terminate the package travel contract before the start of the package tour without paying the termination fee, if there are unavoidable and exceptional circumstances affecting the destination or its immediate vicinity which might impact the service provision or transportation of passengers.
Unavoidable and exceptional circumstances may include, for example, military activities, other serious security problems such as terrorism, significant risks to human health, such as the outbreak of a severe disease at the travel destination, or natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, or weather conditions that make it impossible to travel to the destination safely in the manner provided for in the package travel contract. The contract withdrawal application must be submitted to the tour operator before the start of the package tour. We encourage passengers to consider agreeing to flexible options of refund with travel operators. For example, reimbursement of advances may be replaced by a change of the trip to a later date or may be replaced by package travel gift cards that the passenger may use at his own discretion later.
I have already purchased travel and airline tickets abroad. The company does not want to reimburse them, where can I get further help with the issue?
You must contact the Consumer Protection and Technical Surveillance Authority with your question. The Agency has published official information on the coronavirus on its website (information in Estonian). Further information can also be obtained from the Consumer Protection and Technical Surveillance Authority hotline at +6201707.
An event is cancelled because of the coronavirus. What will happen to the ticket money?
Besides returning the paid ticket money, the event organiser can offer tickets to alternative events at a later time or gift cards. If the consumer is not happy with those choices, he or she has the right to get their money back. Since the number of cancelled events is so high, we recommend being patient when dealing with these issues.
I want to cancel an advance payment already made for a booking at a children’s play centre. What will happen to that advance payment?
A consumer has the right to get their money back for an advance payment. Also, it is possible to agree to postpone the booking to a later date.
If I have a fixed-term contract with my sports club, then what kinds of conditions apply to me during this emergency situation?
For questions about fixed-term contracts, we recommend turning to the service provider to find out about options for resolving the situation, such as terminating the contract, receiving a gift card, a future discount or some other agreement. At the same time, the consumer also has a right to terminate the contract due to force majeure, but we recommend using that option as a last recourse.
My child cannot attend a hobby class, but I am paying for it. Do I have the right to pay less?
Depends on the terms of a specific contract. For example, if you have agreed that during the contract period, the service provider will have to organise a certain number of training sessions or lessons, but you have not specified the exact dates, the solution may be that the service provider will provide the training sessions or lessons after the situation has normalised. However, if the agreement is such that a fixed number of training sessions or lessons must be provided every month, then the March-April-May training sessions or lessons may be postponed or the fee may be reduced by those training sessions or lessons that are not provided.
If a fee is charged for a service that can be offered in the form of distance learning, then a fee may be charged.
What do I do if a gift card or ticket received as a gift expires during a time when it can’t be used due to the emergency situation?
If your gift card or ticket expires in a situation, where it can’t be used due to a national emergency situation, then the consumer has the right to withdraw from the contract and get back the amount paid for the gift card or ticket. Therefore, we recommend turning to the merchant, who issued the gift card. It’s worth having a look at the merchant’s website, because at the moment many merchants have already posted the necessary information themselves.
Can a trader refuse to refund a gift card if they have offered the customer alternative ways of using the gift card?
If the trader offers an alternative use of the gift card, the consumer is not entitled to withdraw from the contract and to get a refund for the purchase of the card.
For example, if a person cannot use the gift card in a cinema but can use it at the trader’s e-shop, then the customer is not entitled to withdraw from the contract (i.e. to demand refund).
Can services also be used later with the same gift card (even if it is expired)?
It is a matter of agreement with the issuer of the gift card, many merchants offer that opportunity themselves. We recommend turning to the merchant that issued the gift card. In case of disputes, the consumer has recourse and access to legal remedies (demand performance of obligations, demand compensation for damages, etc.). These agreements should definitely be entered into in writing.
What should I do if I ordered a service, for example, event organisation, but I now want to withdraw from the agreement?
First, we recommend contacting the service provider. If the consumer has already paid an advance to the service provider and then wants to cancel the service, the service provider has the right to deduct the cost of services already rendered from the advance payment, but must return the rest of the sum to the consumer. However, if the consumer has not made an advance payment, yet wants to cancel the service, the service provider has the right to demand a reasonable compensation from the consumer for expenses already incurred. The burden of proving whether and which costs the service provider has already incurred is on the service provider.
Do I have to make the monthly payments on my loan and/or lease while I am on mandatory, unpaid leave?
Yes, you do. In consumer credit contracts, force majeure is not an impediment to fulfilling your financial obligations. If there are foreseeable losses in income, you should definitely get in touch with the service provider as soon as possible. For example, some banks offer grace periods.
Whom should I turn to for further advice?
Contact your service provider. Since banks do not guarantee grace periods, the general recommendation is to contact your bank as soon as possible if you experience difficulties, to find a suitable solution together with your bank.
What do I do if I have ordered goods, but the merchant notifies me that they cannot deliver the goods to me because of the emergency situation?
If a merchant notifies you that they cannot deliver the goods, i.e. fulfil their contractual obligation to the consumer, then taking into account the emergency situation, it would be reasonable to resolve the situation with an agreement that satisfies both sides. If you can’t reach an agreement, the consumer can withdraw from the contract. To do so, the consumer has to submit a written notification of withdrawing from the contract. When withdrawing from the contract, each party to the contract can demand the return of anything that was transferred in the course of fulfilling the contract. That means, the consumer has the right to demand the sum they have back to be returned. Considering the current emergency situation, exercise patience in these processes. In regular circumstances, the merchant should return the sum to the consumer in 1-2 working days.
Recommendation to the merchant: If the merchant is not able to fulfil their contractual obligations and can’t deliver goods to the consumers, the merchant has to stop the active sale of goods as soon as possible and notify the consumers of the delivery difficulties.
What do I do if I want to withdraw from a contract signed using a mobile device within 14 days after signing, but because of the emergency situation the company has stopped activities? Will my 14-day right to withdraw be cancelled?
Declaring a national emergency situation does not give the merchant the right to not address a consumer’s complaints. If a consumer wants to withdraw from a contract signed with a mobile device, the merchant must give the consumer the opportunity to do so. If a consumer has complaints about the merchant’s actions or the purchased goods, they have the right to file a complaint in written form to the merchant, who then is obligated to answer within 15 days with a notification of either satisfying the complaint or an offer of possible solutions to the complaint.
I have withdrawn from a contract I entered into using my mobile device, and now I am waiting for the company to transfer the money. Can a company delay fulfilling financial obligations due to the emergency situation?
If a consumer has submitted a notification of withdrawing from the contract, the consumer has to return the received goods and the merchant has the obligation to return the sums paid to them, including the shipping costs. The sums paid by the consumer must be returned to the consumer immediately, but not later than in 14 days. The merchant can refuse to make the return payment until the consumer has returned the goods received under the contract or submitted proof of having returned the goods. However, considering the emergency situation, we suggest being understanding and patient towards the merchants.
The time for submitting a complaint is nearly here. What should I do?
Considering the emergency situation and the restrictions on movement, we suggest contacting the merchant via e-mail. The complaint should include the consumer’s first and last name, when the goods were purchased, which problems there were with the goods, and what is the consumer’s claim. In the letter sent to the merchant, the consumer should also note that the goods will be delivered back to the merchant as soon as possible after the end of the emergency situation, so make sure there is an agreement between the parties.
How can I submit a complaint to a trader during the emergency situation? Is the trader entitled not to respond to my claim?
The establishment of the emergency situation does not give a trader the right to leave consumer complaints unresolved. If the consumer has a claim against the trader’s activities or purchased goods, they have the right to submit the complaint in writing to the trader and the trader shall be obliged to respond to the complaint within 15 days, either settling the claim or offering a possible solution.
I want to stock up on foods. Does a merchant have the right to limit the amounts that I am purchasing?
The merchant can’t directly prohibit a certain amount of goods from being purchased. If a merchant wants to limit the single sale quantities of foods or basic necessities, the information about that limit has to be displayed visibly in the sale location. This question is one that only the merchant can decide, but they also must be able to justify it. The matter is not written into law at this point, and the merchant has to adhere to good practices in commerce in their activities.
Do shops have to have only regular cash registers open or can a merchant enable the use of self-service checkouts only due to the emergency situation?
The consumer must have the opportunity to pay in cash as well. Generally, the self-service checkouts also have a service representative nearby, who helps and teaches the buyer how to use the self-service checkout.
The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority has issued official information about Covid 19 on its website. Further information is also available from the information telephone line of the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority on 6201707.
I am a pensioner and I bought a washing machine which broke. The company that sold the washing machine refused to send a repairman because of the virus risk. Can the company refuse to provide a service because of the fear of the virus?
Yes, in exceptional circumstances, the company has the right to refuse. Because of the emergency situation and restrictions on coming into contact with other persons the refusal is understandable. If the washing machine breaks within 2 years of the purchase, the seller is responsible for non-conformity with the conditions in the contract, and the consumer is entitled to require the repair of the product at that time. Under normal conditions, the sales contract would have been considered substantially infringed, including when the seller refuses to repair or replace the product without a due reason, or does not do it within a reasonable time period after they had been notified of the non-compliance with the terms of the contract. Same applies to creating unjustified discomfort for the buyer when repairing or replacing the product.
If an seller refuses to repair the washing machine without a reasonable cause, or causes unreasonable discomfort for the buyer by not repairing the washing machine, then it would constitute a significant infringement of the sales contract which gives raises for the buyer to withdraw from the contract. In other words, the consumer can return the product and get a refund.
However, the seller is responsible for the infringement of the obligation, except when the infringement is justified. The infringement of the obligation is justified if the infringement was caused by force majeure. Force majeure is an event that an economic operator could not influence and, on the basis of the principle of reasonableness, this event could not have been taken into account, nor it could have been expected that they could have been aware of it when concluding a contract or a non-contractual obligation, they could not take it into account to do anything to prevent or avoid the situation from arising.
In this case, as the emergency situation has been established, and the government has requested everybody to stay at home and avoid contacts with other people in public places, then this condition would also be extended to visiting the home of another person. The company could not influence the establishment of the emergency situation or restrictions and, on the basis of the principle of reasonableness, it could not expected the company to take into account the restrictions due to the emergency at the time of the conclusion of the contract. Therefore, if the seller refuses to repair the washing machine at the client´s home due to the emergency situation and the resulting restrictions, including the aim of protecting their own health, this is justified due to force majeure.
So the answer is yes, the seller can refuse to provide a service even if the customer has a right to use the warranty or a lodge a claim, this is based on the restrictions established due to the emergency situation (force majeure) and due to the related cause, e.g. fear of the virus. Hopefully the customer can reach a compromise with the seller, so once the emergency situation is over, they can find a mutual satisfactory outcome. If this situation is not based on the two-year warranty or claim, then the seller does not have the statutory obligation to provide the service. The company may choose who they provide the service to, and on which terms.
Can a closed shopping centre issue a rent invoice on the third week of April for the month of April to an entrepreneur renting a store space in the centre who closed their store?
Yes, generally a shopping centre can issue a rent invoice to this entrepreneur.
Generally, the entrepreneur who closed their shop does not have the right to refuse to perform on their financial obligations (e.g. paying rent) even if a public authority as suspended its activities (e.g. operating a store or a sports club) with emergency situation measures.
We recommend that the entrepreneur
read the explanations of the Ministry of Justice on the rules of contract law.
negotiate with the renter.
The Law of Obligations Act applies during an emergency situation as well. According to a general rule provided by §103(1) of the Law of Obligations Act, the obligor is liable for non-performance, unless the non-performance is excused due to force majeure. The restrictions enacted by the public authority can be considered force majeure and in that case:
the renter does not have the right to issue a claim for the compensation of damage or
demand a contractual penalty or a late interest.
NB! Force majeure cannot generally be used as an excuse to avoid the obligation to pay. The only exception is a situation where the payment transaction as such is not possible (e.g. internet banking is not working).
In reply to the question of whether there is some sort of a guideline or a law that would allow for just treatment of rental relationships in a current emergency situation, it can be said that the entrepreneur who closed its store might still get the right to terminate the rental agreement.
The issue of liability might be covered in the contract concluded with the shopping centre.
At the same time, the principle of good faith and reasonableness also applies to rental relationships.
How does the emergency situation affect the continuity of contracts in private law relations?
Generally, the performance of a contract is obligatory for the parties. The rules of the contract law, including the obligations regarding the performance of contracts still apply in an emergency situation. The Emergency Act does not allow the state to interfere with private law contracts (e.g. to extend payment deadlines etc.). At the same time, the contract law regulations in force also provide special rules for situations where the performance of a contract is hindered due to force majeure or where the circumstances on the basis of which the contract was concluded or the ratio of the obligations of the contract parties has changed significantly. For more specific information, see the web page of the Ministry of Justice.
Can companies that have been closed because of the emergency situation demand that the state compensate for their damages?
The general principle is that the state compensates for unlawful damages, for lawful damages as an exception only if the unfairness to a company is obvious. In an emergency situation, the public and private sectors have a solidary liability. This means that the private sector tolerates legal restrictions that have been imposed on it for the good of the society and to protect the life and health of a big proportion of the population. To understand what preconditions need to be met for the damages to be compensated and by what time the entrepreneur should act, read more on the web page.
The police and public order
Are police stations open?
Yes, all police departments are open according to their opening hours, which can be viewed on the website of the PBGB: https://www.politsei.ee/en/services/departments.
Will the police still help me if I or any of my relatives have fallen ill?
Yes, the police will come to your aid when your life, health or property is at stake.
There are a lot of rumours, false information etc. being spread around in relation to the emergency situation. Is spreading false information punishable in Estonia?
Yes, it is publishable. The joint effect of the Penal Code (section 262(1)) and the Law Enforcement Act (section 55 (1(2)) provides that knowingly spreading false information can be penalised with a monetary fine or arrest. The Law Enforcement Act prohibits disturbing public order. Among other things, threatening and intimidation are also considered as disturbing public order. Knowingly spreading false information is one of ways to threaten and intimidate others and as such also punishable as an act of disturbing public order. For more on this, read the article of the legal scholar Jaan Ginter in Postimees.
Can I go out in the evenings or is it forbidden and can the police detain me?
Currently, there are no time-based restrictions on movement. As of 25 March, in public places (such as outdoor playgrounds and open air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking and biking trails) and indoor spaces (except at home), people must keep a distance of at least 2 m from others. Only two people at most can gather in public places. This restriction does not apply to families moving around together and to people in official public functions.
Taking a walk is always good for the health if you keep a reasonable distance with other people and comply with hygiene requirements.
Can a police officer or an employee of the Health Board stop me on the street to determine my health status?
The Health Board, together with the police, focuses primarily on informing people in the public. However, a situation could arise where it is necessary to assist a person displaying symptoms, including calling for an ambulance.
Should I call 112, if someone violates the requirements of the Emergency Situation (e.g. there is a large public gathering)?
If there is indeed a major public gathering, you can call the Emergency Response Center at 112
Who should I contact if I know someone is violating their requirement to self-isolate?
If the police needs to intervene immediately, call 112. If the requirement to self-isolate had been violated earlier, or it might occur in the future, i.e. you would like to issue a warning which does not require an immediate response, contact your local police. Contacts are available on the Police and Border Guard Board [website]:https://www.politsei.ee/et/piirkondlik-politseitoeoe
Someone is trying to defraud me under the pretext of coronavirus. How do I react?
We advise you to be vigilant and not to come across suspicious offers. If the scam has not yet been committed, send a report of the facts to [email protected] If the fraud has already taken place, a police statement needs to be filled out: https://www2.politsei.ee/en/.
How high is the fine the police can impose when, for instance, nightclubs, spas or gyms remain open?
A penalty payment of up to EUR 9,600 may be imposed on a company, unless otherwise specified in the emergency order. A penalty payment means that a precept is issued to the undertaking. For example, if a nightclub is open, the police will oblige the company to close the nightclub for a certain period of time. If the undertaking fails to comply with the precept, it is possible to impose a penalty payment on the undertaking. The purpose of the penalty payment is to ensure that the order is executed.
How to keep the children at home, and keep them from wondering around outside? What kind of help can the police offer?
Parents or carers should explain to the children why it is important to stay at home even if none of the family members are ill. The best thing is to discuss it with the children and agree on a plan for staying home – how to study, how can the parents help, what are the rules for different activities, including socialising with friends.
If the child is healthy, they may walk with a dog, or go for a run in the forest. They cannot go and visit their grandmother, or meet with friends (2-by-2 rule applies). We do not want the disease to spread. We can only prevent it if we all act responsibly. Intimidating with police is not a solution. It is important to explain that it is important for your own health, and the health of others to stay home.
Guidelines and advice on stress management can be found on the Health Board website (http://www.terviseamet.ee/et/COVID-19-trukised. If something has happened to the child or they have gone missing, then, of course, the police must be informed.
Do children have the right to go outdoors at all? Are youth gangs allowed to move around?
Yes, children have the right to go outdoors if they are healthy. As of 25 March, in public places (such as outdoor playgrounds and open air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking and biking trails) and indoor spaces (except at home), people must keep a distance of at least 2 m from others. Only two people at most can gather in public places. This restriction does not apply to families moving around together and to people in official public functions.
If the police notice anything of the sort, they can disperse the group in the interests of the children’s safety and send them home.
What are the powers of security staff in emergency situations?
Security staff have the same rights as at all times to guard and protect property and persons on the site assigned to them (be it a department store, a closed area, or private houses). To this end, a security guard may discipline, detain and hand over offenders to the police.
Can I get involved as a volunteer? Can I become an Assistant Police Officer?
The best way to help law enforcement authorities and everyone else is to avoid any unnecessary movement in crowded places, to comply with hygiene requirements and to share relevant information with your loved ones. If, however, you are willing to contribute to law enforcement as a volunteer and your state of health and that of those close to you allows it (no one has been infected or being abroad in the last two weeks), you can find out more about becoming an Assistant Police Officer at www.abipolitseinik.ee.
Anyone who does not want to become an assistant police officer but wishes to offer some other kind of, will be registered by the police department coordinators, and if the Police and Border Guard Board has the need for their assistance, they will be contacted. If the Police and Border Guard Boards needs volunteers, then this information will be placed on the website of the Vabatahtlike Värav (Volunteer Portal).
What happens if the entire or half of the Estonian police force falls ill? What happens if police officers fall ill? Will the police then stop operating?
Police officers have received clear instructions on how to protect their health at work and while being with their loved ones. In addition, they are provided with resources to help them maintain their health. They have received a lot of instructions, have the ability to protect themselves and others, can avoid risks and have taken all precautions. Assistant police officers and members of the Defence League are also involved and, if necessary, additional volunteers can be involved. No one will be left without assistance.
Can a police officer assisting me/responding to an incident be infected?
Police officers who are ill or suspected of being ill are immediately excluded from work.
Will I be subject to coercive measures if I defy the ban on public events?
If you follow all official orders, you have no reason to worry. However, the police and other law enforcement authorities have the right to discipline people when the latter do not obey the orders.
How can I be sure that I do not let anyone pretending to be a Health Board inspector in my home?
The Health Board is not planning to pay any home visits at the moment. Furthermore, each official must show his/her certificate of employment on request. In case of doubt, you should call the Emergency Response Centre at 112 or its hotline at 1247.
Do police officers responding to an incident have the necessary protective equipment to prevent infection?
Police officers are provided with the necessary personal protective equipment: rubber gloves and protective masks, as well as disinfectants. When a police officer comes into contact with a person showing some signs of illness, the latter, i.e. the person with signs of illness, is given a protective mask to prevent the further spread of infection.
What rights do the police have with regard to the Emergency Situation?
In emergency situations, the police have the power, depending on the needs and circumstances, to impose additional restrictions on stay and movement, to restrict the organisation of public events and meetings, and, if necessary, to use coercive measures and other more intensive measures to prevent and counter a threat.
Can a police officer order me to go home and stay there if I move around showing signs of illness?
In the context of an emergency situation, the police (also the Government of the Republic, the head of emergency situation, the head of emergency situation work and the officer appointed by the head of emergency situation) may obligate people to leave a given area, prohibit them from staying there, and require them to remain at home if this is necessary for resolving the emergency which led to the declaration of the emergency situation. Where possible, access to a person’s residence or workplace shall be maintained.
Should I inform the police or the Emergency Response Centre if I see a person affected by the illness walking down the street?
Anyone who has been exposed to the infection or has been abroad in recent weeks should first and foremost monitor their health and consult their general practitioner immediately if symptoms occur. It is difficult or even impossible for bystanders to make such an assessment in a city setting, so it is worth avoiding premature assessments of the state of health of others. Of course, if you notice someone whose life or health is in danger and who needs immediate medical attention, call the Emergency Response Centre at 112.
Does the police intend to disperse people who gather on football fields, playgrounds and in other public places? If not, why?
Starting from March 25 there needs to be at least a 2-meter distance between people in a public place (i.e. outdoor play- and sports grounds, beaches, promenades, recreational and hiking paths) and indoors (except at home) unless it is impossible to guarantee this. Up to two people can be in a public place together. This restriction does not apply to families staying and moving together and when public tasks are being carried out.
If a local municipality has set the restrictions on movement, the local municipality should also be the one conducting the supervision, involving the police if necessary. Thus the police could be involved if the restrictions set by the local municipality are broken. The particular steps taken depend on the case and the situation that needs to be addressed with these measures.
With public gatherings, the first measure to be taken is issuing a verbal precept (a warning) for the persons gathered to leave. In that case there are no penalty payments issued but it is an order to leave.
Order no 77 of the Government of the Republic from March 13 provides that according to § 32, paragraph 1 of the Emergency Act, from March 13 to May 1, 2020 all public gatherings, cinema sessions, night clubs, performances, concerts, conferences and sporting events are prohibited and § 31, paragraph 1 of the Emergency Act prohibits visiting museums and other exhibition establishments. If the emergency situation measures are not fulfilled as required, the administrative coercive measures listed in § 28 paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Law Enforcement Act (penalty payment, direct coercion) will be implemented. The choice of a particular administrative coercive measure depends upon the particular case.
Is it possible to become infected with the virus during a breath test?
No, because according to the recommendations of the Health Board, the police officers disinfect their hands and the device after each breath test.
Do the police still measure the speed of vehicles?
The police are currently continuing all their work on security, including traffic supervision.
How many people would constitute a public gathering?
A public meeting or event is a gathering of people in a public place, regardless of the number of people. A public meeting is people being together in a public place for a joint purpose of forming or expressing their opinions. A public event is an entertainment event, a competition, a performance, a commercial event or any other such gathering of people in a public place and open to the public but which is not a meeting.
Due to the emergency situation, the Government has decided to prohibit all public gatherings until May 1, 2020.
Can I continue walking my dog or is it prohibited?
You can go for a walk with or without a dog. It is advisable to avoid crowded places and to follow the hygiene requirements of the Health Board.
Will there be any changes to police work? Is there reason to fear that the police may no longer be able to get help so quickly?
The police will continue to respond to dispatch calls as usual. We are constantly assessing the situation, our resources and capabilities and will notify you immediately should the situation change. We will continue responding to dispatch calls on the basis of priority, meaning responding to urgent calls where people’s lives, health and property may be in imminent danger is the main focus.
Might there be changes in the time-limits of police proceedings because of the emergency situation? Could the time-limits be extended if one party is unable to execute a certain operation in time?
Have there been any actual substantial decisions made, legal acts drafted, on these extensions to time-limits, exceeding all kinds of deadlines, deadlines for appeals etc because all time-limits have not been set only by internal procedures, some on them are set by different level legal acts, including laws?
The time-limits may be extended for reasons not contingent on parties to the proceedings and due to the emergency situation and the activities of the Police and Border Guard Board that are connected to it.
The police are currently following the time-limits of submitted applications, requests for information and settlement of complaints according to the regular working principles. We are fulfilling the responsibilities/time-limits arising from the law as long as the laws have not been amended. Keeping to the time-limits might, however, become difficult due to the activities connected to the emergency situation and the subsequent increase in the Police and Border Guard Board workload.
The processing times of offences might extend due to the activities connected to the emergency situation and the subsequent increase in the Police and Border Guard Board work load. There is also the danger that one of the parties becomes ill and some operations of the proceedings cannot be carried out because of that.
The possible consequences of the emergency situation/crisis (possible non-compliance with time-limits and slower processing times) have been negotiated with and approved by the Office of the Prosecutor General as the lead of the investigation.
As far as we know there are no proposals to amend the time-limits regarding offence proceedings (including processing applications etc) in the acts currently being drafted, but a more reliable answer to this question can be given by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior. Legislative drafting falls under the competency of the ministries.
Will weapons examinations take place?
The taking of weapon examinations (both theory and shooting) has been suspended as of March 25, 2020 until the end of the emergency situation. All persons registered for weapons examinations will be contacted and informed about the postponement.
Is there a total ban on alcohol sales in Estonia due to the emergency situation?
No, alcohol sales are not completely prohibited. On 17 March, the Government merely harmonised the selling conditions of alcohol to be similar to grocery shops, which means that it is not possible to buy alcohol in restaurants, taverns, bars and other catering and accommodation facilities at night and in the morning, from 10 pm to 10 am. The amendment shall be effective until the end of the emergency situation and no longer.
What happens if alcohol is still sold somewhere during the prohibited hours?
Violation of restrictions or prohibitions applicable to the retail sale of alcoholic beverages is punishable by a fine of up to 300 fine units. The same act, if committed by a legal person, is punishable by a fine of up to 5,000 euros.
Why are the conditions for selling alcohol restricted?
The restriction helps to prevent possible cases of excessive alcohol consumption, such as health damage, the commission of various offences, damage to others or state property, and accidents related to drink-driving. We hope that the number of alcohol-related dispatch calls to the police units and ambulance will decrease with the restriction or at least remain stable. As a result, more resources can be devoted to dealing with situations regarding the coronavirus.
Does the restriction on alcohol sales also apply at airports and ports or on board vessels and aircraft?
No, this restriction shall not apply to points of sale on board vessels or aircraft engaged in international passenger transport and to points of sale within the security restricted area of international airports or ports.
When will the restriction on alcohol sales be lifted?
The restriction on alcohol sales will remain in force until the end of the emergency situation or until the government has decided to lift the restriction earlier.
Will the rescue service help me in an accident if I or a loved one is ill?
If you are ill, make sure you tell the alert centre when calling 112. In addition to rescuers, an ambulance will be sent to you. We will certainly provide assistance to all those in need.
Can I get involved as a volunteer rescuer?
Currently, the best help to rescue services is to avoid unnecessary movement in crowded places, to comply with hygiene and home fire safety requirements, and to share relevant information with your loved ones. More about joining voluntary rescue can be found on the Rescue Board’s website at https://www.rescue.ee/en.
Can the rescuer who responded to me or to an event be infected?
If the rescuer is ill or at risk of infection, he or she will immediately stay home. Rescuers who have been exposed to the infected person will also remain at home.
What happens if all or half of the rescuers get sick? What happens when rescuers get sick? Are rescuers no longer working?
There are many rescuers at the Rescue Board – nearly 4,000 people belong to the rescue network. Rescuers work in shifts so there is always a spare rescue reserve. The Rescue Board has a plan in case workers get sick. Even in the worst-case scenario, rescue service always comes to help when life and health are at stake.
Does the rescue officer responding to an event have the necessary protective equipment to prevent infection?
Every rescue car has protective masks, rubber gloves and disinfectants. Vehicles and rescue equipment are being cleaned daily. All rescuers have received instructions on how to avoid the risk of infection, how to act on the scene, and what tools to use.
What special rights does a rescue worker have in emergency situation?
Emergency workers do not have special rights in emergency situations.
Are there changes in rescue work? Should I be afraid that rescue may not be able to reach me so quickly?
The Rescue Board has not made any changes to the rescue work and rescue work continues. They are always responding to challenges where people’s lives, health and property may be in imminent danger. In order to limit the spread of the virus, the Rescue Board temporarily suspended home counselling and safety inspectorate visits.
How can I be sure that an official of the Estonian Rescue Board carrying out a home fire safety visit is not infected?
Currently the Estonian Rescue Board is not carrying out any home fire safety visits. When home fire safety visits continue, the resident is within their rights to refuse the visit.
What items and in what quantities does the Rescue Board recommend to stock for this crisis?
There should be enough food and other supplies at home so that a family has enough to for at least a week without visiting the store. These should be the everyday regular food items the family consumes, including some items with a longer shelf-life (canned food, cookies, etc.).
Recommendations for visiting shopping centres:
Visit stores as infrequently as possible, make plans to purchase the necessary products for a longer period of time.
Plan a visit outside peak hours.
Visit the store alone and keep 2-metre distance from other people.
When shopping, do not touch the items you don´t need.
Non-packaged fruit and vegetables require proper washing at home, and we also recommend that you wash the packaging.
Avoid using cash when making purchases.
Make the most of home delivery options.
Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the store.
What does the Rescue Board do for me during an emergency?
The role of the Rescue Board is to make every effort to help resolve the crisis and prevent the virus from spreading. If you can’t move yourself, close one and neighbours can’t help and you run out of food or other essentials to your home, let your local authority know.
Do rescuers miss some calls?
Rescuers always respond to the call when someone’s life or health is at stake. If any commando falls out due to infection, the calls will be taken over with the help of the nearest commando(s). Nothing changes for the person in need.
Do emergency responders reach the person in need as quickly as in a normal situation?
Rescuers also reach people in emergency situation as quickly as they do in normal situations. What matters is how many major calls there are, such as during a storm. If the que of calls is long cases where someone’s life or health is at stake will get the quickest response. The emergency situation does not play a role in the speed of response.
Are there enough rescuers in rescue teams? What happens if rescuers get sick and remain on sick leave, who then responds to the calls?
There are many rescuers at the Rescue Board – nearly 4,000 people belong to the rescue network. Rescuers work in shifts so there is always a spare rescue reserve. The Rescue Board has a plan in case workers get sick. Even in the worst-case scenario, rescue always comes to help when life and health are at stake.
Do volunteer rescuers have the same training and equipment as professional rescuers?
The training and equipment of voluntary rescuers differs from that of professional rescuers. When called, the rescuers sent to the rescue event have the skills and equipment needed to deal with the event, whether they be professional, volunteer, or a rescue team of professionals and volunteers.
Does the Rescue Agency need new volunteer rescuers? What are the guidelines for active citizens who would like to help the country?
Voluntary rescuers are always welcome. This requires training and an examination organized by the rescue centre. Due to the viral emergency, training and exams are currently postponed, but volunteer rescuer e-learning is already available to anyone. Information and required application forms for applying for a volunteer rescue can be found on the Rescue Board’s website at https://www.rescue.ee./en.
Can Latvian rescuers also come to the rescue across the Estonian border?
The rescuers of Latvia can still come to help if need be, provided they have enough free resources. Cross-border rescue work is ongoing, despite the fact that Latvia closed its borders, just as it did in the past.
Is the government prepared to involve the military and the Estonian Defence League in addition to the police force; ready to set up control points, etc. if people are violating the movement restriction order?
The Estonian Defence League and the Women’s Voluntary Defence Organisation have been involved in various tasks, including police operations, to ensure border control, and law and order internally. The police will make an assessment regarding the need for additional resources. The involvement of the Estonian Defence Forces and the Estonian Defence League is decided by the Government, and it requires the approval of the President. If the Government decides to allocate additional tasks, the Defence Forces are prepared to undertake them.
The Defence Force supports the national health care system and institutions with all its medical resources. The Defence Forces Medical Service has daily and close contact with the Health Board and an overview of how the Defence Force can best support the country at the moment. For example, the Defence Forces are establishing a field hospital at Saaremaa Island with 20-person staff, and have allocated the necessary personal protective equipment from their reserves (approximately 700 000 protective masks).
Are the police using personal protective equipment right now? What kind of equipment do they have, what do they need, and how much is lacking? Do the police have disinfectants?
The front line workers of the Police and Border Control Board use masks, gloves and disinfectants. They have all these materials and supplies are sufficient.
People have left the city for their summer homes in the countryside. This means they could spread the virus to places, where it normally wouldn’t reach. Shouldn’t they stay at home?
The person in charge of the emergency situation has not put a restriction in place for this kind of movement. When moving in a public space, the 2 + 2 rule must be observed. If you are sick or have just come from a foreign country, you must stay home. Summer homes and second homes in the country are also people’s homes, and if they have chosen to stay home in their country home, they have the right to do so in the emergency situation as well.
How does a penalty payment differ from a fine?
A fine is a punishment for a misdemeanour that a person has committed. The goal of punishments for misdemeanours (and also criminal offenses) is to induce the offender to refrain from committing offenses and protect public order in general, i.e. it is seen as an expression of public condemnation. A misdemeanour and the fine given for it are determined by law. For instance, if a driver has exceeded the speed limit, he can be punished with a fine for the misdemeanour he committed. This is provided for by the Traffic Act.
A penalty payment is not considered to be a punishment, rather, its goal is to induce a person to adhere to the requirements set to him. In the case of state supervision, it is usual that a precept sets a person an obligation to bring his activities to meet the requirements stemming from legal acts (for instance, there is a requirement to remove old tires stored in a wrong place). The precept also sets a deadline and often includes a warning — if the precept is not complied with by the set deadline, the authority has the right to apply a penalty payment. The exact size of the penalty payment has to be determined by the precept. A person (also a company) thus has the opportunity to comply with the precept within a given deadline — in that case there no penalty payment is collected. This is what is meant by a penalty payment being non-punitive in nature.
Before a penalty payment is applied a follow-up check needs to be carried out, in the course of which it is checked whether the precept has been complied with. Ig it has not, the officials need to determine for what circumstances the precept has not been (either fully or partially) complied with. Generally, a person is asked for his positions and justifications. Taking these into account, the officials also have the right to reduce the rate of the penalty payment determined by the precept and collect a penalty payment in a sum smaller than initially set. Increasing the sum is not allowed.
For instance, in the current emergency situation a penalty payment of 2000 Euros is foreseen if a person who has been issued a restriction on movement does not adhere to the obligation to stay at home. A 9300 Euro penalty payment can be applied to a company if it does not adhere to the rules set by the person in charge of the emergency situation. In both these examples a warning or a precept to comply with the rules within a certain deadline is issued first. A penalty payment is collected only if the person or the company still persist in not fulfilling their obligations.
Are the service offices of the Police and Border Guard Board open?
The service offices of the Police and Border Guard Board are open for unavoidable procedures, only the Kuressaare service office on Saaremaa is closed due to the restrictions to freedom of movement there. The opening times of the following service offices will change from April 3:
Pärnu, Monday to Friday 9-15
Paide, Monday to Friday 9-15
Rapla, Monday to Friday 9-15
Haapsalu, Monday to Friday 9-15
Kärdla, Monday and Wednesday 9-15
Jõhvi, Monday to Friday 9-15
Narva, Monday to Friday 9-15
Rakvere, Monday to Friday 9-15
Kuressaare service office will remain closed
The service offices of Tammsaare, Pinna, Tartu, Jõgeva, Põlva, Võru, Valga and Viljandi are open Monday to Friday 9-17.
We ask people not to come into the service offices without a real need and, if possible, to use the self-service: http://iseteenindus.politsei.ee/. See also the Police and Border Guard Board website where you can find the necessary information regarding documents.
If you still need to come to the service office, follow the special requirements in force since March 25. Keep at least 2 metres of distance with others when in a public place or indoors. The restriction does not apply to families or people carrying out public law functions.
What measures are being taken at the Police and Border Guard service offices to restrict the spread of the virus?
All Police and Border Guard service offices have hand-sanitisers available for the clients. The client service providers wear masks and gloves, they regularly clean their desks, counters and other frequently used surfaces and equipment.
If I only have a slight cough and a runny nose, can I come to the service office for an urgent procedure?
Please do not come. If possible, use the self-service portal for applying for the document and come to pick up the document when you are not sick anymore. The documents are held at the service office for six months.
If I should come to the service office for an urgent procedure, will I be given a mask by the Police and Border Guard Board?
You will be given a mask at the service office if you are symptomatic. We still ask that in order to protect the health of yourself and others, you do not come to the service office if you are symptomatic.
Can I authorize someone else to pick up my document?
You can but it is not possible to authorize retroactively. An authorization can only be made at the same time as the application for the documents is submitted at the service office of the Police and Border Guard Board or at a foreign representation. If you have given an authorization then, the person you have authorized can pick up the document. That person must have with them
their own personal identification document that has been issued in Estonia and
your old document if it is still valid.
How can I apply for an ID card?
If you have been issued an ID card before, there is no need to come to the service office. You can apply for a new ID card for yourself or your underage child in the self-service portal of the police.
As a last resort, the Police and Border Guard Board also accepts applications by mail to the address Pärnu mnt 139, Tallinn, 15060. You can find the application form at: https://www.politsei.ee/files/Dokumentide%20taotlemise%20ankeedid/eng-dok-taotlus.pdf?a937ec2f6c.
If it is unavoidably necessary, applications can also be submitted at the service offices.
What do I have to do if I am applying for an ID card for the first time?
When applying for the ID card for the first time, it is necessary to go to the service office of the Police and Border Guard Board and present a document proving your Estonian citizenship.
How can I apply for a passport?
It is possible to apply for a renewal of a passport and for a passport to an underage child at the police self-service portal at http://iseteenindus.politsei.ee. You will need to submit a photo, fingerprints and a signature sample to apply for a passport.
Use a photo taken at the photo box of the service office within the last 60 days, fingerprints and a signature sample that are tied to your personal identification code in the self-service systems.
Upload a suitable photo taken within the last 6 months and a photocopy of your signature sample to the self-service portal or send them to the e-mail address [email protected] Fingerprints given within the last 5 years are already in the system.
As a last resort, you can also submit the application by mail to the address Pärnu mnt 139, Tallinn, 15060. You can find the application form at: https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/estonian-passport-for-an-adult/applying-at-the-self-service-portal, but the document photo must be sent digitally to [email protected] The photo must be taken within the last 6 months and the fingerprints in the system can be no more than 5 years old.
If it is unavoidably necessary, you can also submit the application at the service office.
What to do if I am applying for the passport for the first time?
When applying for the passport for the first time, it is necessary to go to the service office of the Police and Border Guard Board and present a document proving your Estonian citizenship.
Do I need to come to the service station in order to take the document photo?
No, you do not. You can take the document photo yourself or have it taken by a photographer. You can find more exact requirements and guidelines at: https://www.politsei.ee/en/requirement-and-instructions-for-the-document-photo.
Can I change the issuing location of my document and how?
The issuing location can indeed be changed. For this you have to submit a free form application to the e-mail address [email protected] and pay the state fee of €10 in an internet bank. Ordering a document to a foreign representation costs an additional €20.
You can find the instructions at: https://www.politsei.ee/en/instructions/how-to-pay-the-state-fee.
Can I apply for new expedited documents?
Unfortunately you cannot. Because of the emergency situation, the issuing of expedited documents has currently been suspended.
Does the Police and Border Guard Board send a passport to my home if I cannot pick it up myself?
No, in Estonia the Police and Border Guard Board does not send passports by mail.
How long will my document be held at the service office?
Documents are held at the service office for six months.
Are the foreign representations of the Republic of Estonia open?
Yes, the foreign representations (embassies) of the Republic of Estonia are open but if necessary they can change or limit their opening times. You should check the times of consular reception from the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at https://vm.ee/en/country-representations/estonian-representations.
The phone number of the consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is +372 6377 440, e-mail [email protected]
Receiving a passport abroad during emergency situation
How can I receive my new Estonian passport abroad?
An application for an Estonian citizen’s passport must be submitted via self-service platform of the Police and Border Guard Board, via e-mail with a digital signature, at the Police and Border Guard services offices, or at an Estonian embassy. After submitting the application, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will ask the applicant for their consent in order to issue the document by post. The passport applicant will then be provided with instructions on how to receive the document.
The issuance of Estonian passports to Estonian citizens living abroad will continue through a secure postal service. This service will be provided by a courier service provider in a contractual relationship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information for applying for Estonian passport abroad: https://www.politsei.ee/et/juhend/eesti-passi-taotlemine-taeiskasvanule/taotlemine-valismaal
Once I receive my new passport, can I use it immediately?
During the delivery the passport is inactive and non-usable. In order to activate the passport, you will have to notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the receipt of the document.
If the recipient of the passport does not notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the receipt of the document upon a certain deadline (this deadline is individual, depending on the distance of travel, for example it takes longer for the passport to be delivered with DHL to Australia then to Finland), then this passport is considered to be lost or stolen, and the Police and Border Guard Board will declare it void.
Additional information on applying for an Estonian passport abroad:
More specific information on applying for an Estonian passport abroad: https://www.politsei.ee/et/juhend/eesti-passi-taotlemine-taeiskasvanule/taotlemine-valismaal
Is the delivery of the passport safe? Can it pose a risk of infection?
During the delivery the passport is inactive and non-usable. In order to activate the passport, you will have to notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the receipt of the document. If the recipient of the passport does not notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the receipt of the document upon a certain deadline (this deadline is individual, depending on the distance of travel, for example it takes longer for the passport to be delivered with DHL to Australia then to Finland), then this passport is considered to be lost or stolen, and the Police and Border Guard Board will declare it void.
Passport delivery does not pose a risk of infections. Our contractual partner uses personal protection equipment and guarantees that the hygiene requirements are met. The delivery costs of new documents will be covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the emergency situation.
Do I as a passport applicant also pay for the document myself?
Yes, a person applying for the passport pays for the application. During the emergency situation, the delivery costs will be covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Residency permits, visas, weapons permits
How can I apply for a visa and a residence permit?
Applications for visas and residence permits are admitted but there are no decisions made on them. For this reason, the Police and Border Guard Board recommends waiting until the end of the emergency situation to submit them.
As a last resort, applications for visas and residence permits can me submitted at the service office of the Police and Border Guard Board. At the service office it is necessary to identify the person and take their finger prints with a special device. In the visa process it is not possible to use finger prints taken in the photo box.
If the application is for a renewal of a residence permit, it can be submitted by mail to the address Pärnu mnt 139, Tallinn, 15060 or by e-mail to [email protected] Applications for short term work permits can be submitted at the police self-service portal at http://iseteenindus.politsei.ee
I am a holder of a “gray passport”, person with undetermined citizenship, and I am currently abroad. My documents expire or have already expired by the time I return, and my new documents will be ready in Estonia. How can I get back to Estonia?
The embassy at the country of stay must be contacted to obtain the return permit. Residence permits for holders of foreign passports and persons with undetermined citizenship cannot be issued by embassies, and the Police and Border Guard Board will not send the documents to embassies.
NB! The travel document is a passport, residence permit alone is not suitable for crossing the borders. If the residence permit is valid but the passport expires, you must also contact the embassy.
How to find out what is the status of my application for residence permit, application for right of residence, application for short-term employment?
The general decision of the Director-General of the Police and Boarder Guard Board all procedures for applications for visas, extensions of residence, residence permits, right of residence and short-term employment have been suspended as of March 16,2020. The processing deadlines will recommence no later than 10 days after the end of the emergency situation. The purpose of the decision is to use the resources of the Police and Border Guard Board for the prevention and control of the spread of virus. Applications may continue to be submitted to the Police and Border Guard Board, if necessary, and the applications will be accepted. At the same time, the police advises to wait with the submission, and submit the documents after the end of the emergency situation, as no substantive procedures will be taking place.
Derogation: The Police and Border Guard Board continues to process applications for short-term employment registration as usual, when a foreign national is currently legally staying in Estonia. The Processing Unit will contact the employers and verify whether the foreigner is currently in Estonia. When submitting a new application, the relevant information must be added.
Where can I find information on the issues regarding the stay, working and living of foreigners in Estonia?
If you have more complex or additional questions you can turn to the migration counsellors of the Police and Border Guard Board by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at +372 612 3500 (Monday to Friday 9-15).
What should I do if my weapons permit is about to expire but a new health certificate is not being issued right now?
The Police and Border Guard Board automatically extends the period of validity of permits that expire between March 16 and May 31, as the issuance of health certificates has been suspended due to the risk of infection.
If the permit expires between March 16 to March 30, the period of validity will be extended by 90 calendar days.
If the permit expires between April 1 to May 31, the period of validity will be extended by 60 calendar days.
The period of extension will be calculated from the date of expiry on the permit.
The decision applies to weapons permits, permits to carry weapons, parallel weapons permits and collection permits.
The extension of the period of validity of the permit will thus not impose any additional obligations on the holder of the permit. There is also no need to hand the weapons over to the police immediately after the period of validity ends.
The application to renew the weapons permit and all other necessary documents must be submitted after the emergency situation ends, in the case of an expiry of a weapons permit or a permit to carry weapons, at least one month before the period of validity ends.
I am a third-country national, I have a residence permit in Estonia and waiting for my residence permit card to be issued in Estonia. My wife is an Estonian citizen. Can I come to Estonia?
You can enter Estonia with a visa, visas are currently being issued to the family members of European Union citizens. If applying for the residence permit for the first time, another option is to send the application to the Police and Boarder Guard Board, and note the place of issue at an embassy, pay for the state levy, and arrive in Estonia with the residence permit card.
Transport and vehicles
Can driving lessons be still held, as there are only two people in the car – the learner and the instructor.
All driving lessons are suspended by the order of the Government of the Republic; unless the lessons can be held remotely, using driving simulators or any other way which allows to stay at a distance. This means that regular lessons with an instructor and the learner in the car together are not allowed. A-category lessons for motorcycle driving permits are allowed, as the learner is alone on a motorcycle, same for driving practice on a practice court where the instruction is provided over the radio from a distance.
Regular driving lessons are allowed only for the purposes of training the Defence Forces servicemen, police officers, rescue workers, assistant police officers and volunteer rescuers.
Are the service centres of the Road Administration open? Are driving practice and theory exams taking place?
Due to the emergency situation aimed at preventing the spread of the corona virus the Road Administration service centres are closed until 12 April. During this time we are also not conducting driving theory and practice exams. After this date the Road Administration will review the measures and publish updates about any further actions. You are advised to check our website for latest information. https://www.mnt.ee/eng/frequently-asked-questions-about-service-bureaus-exams-and-documents
How to get the necessary documents from the Road Administration?
Although our service centres have been closed, our online services and information hotlines continue to operate as normal. As such, we would ask you to go online for anything you need from us, having any paperwork mailed to your home address and number plates delivered to a parcel terminal. If for some reason the documents were still set for delivery to a service centre of the Road Administration, they will be sent to the applicants by post. To receive them, please send an e-mail request to [email protected], providing the preferred address for document delivery. The only exception is digital recorder (tachograph) cards, which will be forwarded to those who have ordered them, with precise handover arrangements made in each individual instance.
Are technical testing centres for vehicles open?
Technical testing centres are open. Many of them have introduced safety measures and restrictions in communicating with clients. Please be understanding of this.
Is it possible to register vehicles?
It is possible to register vehicles. The necessary operations are carried out through the e-service of the Road Administration or through other electronic means and the documents and licence plates will generally be issued without direct contact with the customer and by appointment with the service office of the Road Administration.
Instructions on how to do this can be found here.
What happens if my vehicle’s inspection expires during the restriction on movement? Is it possible that the police will not issue fines for a certain period after the restrictions are lifted?
If a person was subject to restricted movement for 14 days or was ill, then at the end of that period, he or she has the right to drive to the nearest technical inspection location with an expired inspection certificate. This has always been the case, even before the state of emergency was declared. This must however be the first time that the car is driven once the restrictions on movement have ended.
If the testing centre is closed for some reason because of the state of emergency and the test cannot be done, the current position is that there are several testing centres open across Estonia, and so if you cannot go to the one that you usually go to, you must reserve a time at a different one. Obviously you should only go there once you yourself are fully healthy.
I am about to complete the final stage of training to obtain the driving licence to replace the provisional driving licence. What should I do?
At the moment, we are looking for a solution to extend the validity of the provisional driving licences until the end of the emergency situation.
All driving lessons are suspended by the order of the Government of the Republic; unless the lessons can be held remotely, using driving simulators or any other way which allows to stay at a distance. Regular driving lessons are allowed only for the purposes of training the Defence Forces servicemen, police officers, rescue workers, assistant police officers and volunteer rescuers.
The aim of the measures implemented by the Government is to reduce the number of contacts between persons and to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
My number plate is being held at a service centre but the deadline will expire this month. I wish to take the number into use, would it be possible?
Currently it is not possible to replace number plates at the service centres. The Road Administration extended by three months the deadline of all held number plates that are set to expire within the next three months. For instance, if the deadline would have expired on March 27, 2020, it was automatically extended to June 27, 2020.
What happens if my driving licence medical certificate expires?
You will not be fined by the police if your medical certificate has expired during the emergency situation. The Parliament is currently in the process of amending the Traffic Act, according to which the right to drive will not be suspended if the medical certificate expires during the crisis period. This amendment allows for the possibility that no valid medical certificate is required to be presented during the emergency situation, and 90 days after the end of the emergency situation, in order to replace or change a driving licence, but the driver must be physically and psychologically capable of driving a motor vehicle or tram and must not have any illness or health disorder that prevents the safe driving of a motor vehicle or tram. However, after the end of the emergency situation, within 90 days at the latest, you still have to go to the doctor to carry out a health check.
Additional information on the Public Road Administration website.
Will the police fine an Estonian citizen with a foreign driving licence who is currently in Estonia, but whose renewed driving license has not yet arrived by post due to the emergency situation? At the same time, the driver can provide the confirmation fr
If a driving license is issued by a foreign country, the driver must carry the license with them at all times. The Police and Border Guard Board assesses each situation separately, but it is important to note that the emergency situation has not invalidated the regulations of the Road Traffic Act. If a person does not have any evidence to confirm they have the right to drive a motor vehicle in Estonia, it should be taken into account that the police can consider this as driving without the entitlement to drive. The person in question can request the infringement to be processed as a general proceeding. In this case, it is possible to provide further evidence within 15 days which would prove that no offence was not committed and therefore the penalty will not be imposed.
I must use agricultural machinery (tractors, trailers, etc.) as the farming season is about to begin but my machinery has not been yet entered into the register. What should I do?
In the current situation, a Public Road Administration specialist can be called for an inspection as follows:
copies of the documents of a tractor, a mobile machinery, or the trailers of these machines (hereinafter referred to as the machines) can be forwarded in an electronic form, including the application requesting the inspection and the certificate of the state levy having been paid. The application can be found under: Application for an inspection.
the application must be sent by e-mail [email protected], indicating on the subject line the closest office (e.g. Tartu) including the reference to Application for an inspection.
the Public Road Administration service bureaus will inform the client of the time when the service will be provided.
When the inspector arrives, please remember:
the machine must be in the courtyard in an accessible place.
the machine´s manufacturers identification mark (on the body or the frame) must be cleaned in advance and be legible.
the doors of the machine must be opened for airing 1 hour before the inspector arrives.
original documents must be placed inside the machine in the place accessible to the inspector.
there must be no persons near the inspector and the machine. The distance of at least 5 metres must be maintained.
if necessary, you will be contacted by phone.
The time of receipt of the machinery registration certificate and registration tags can be agreed with the inspector.
A foreign national living in Estonia is driving in Estonia with a foreign registered vehicle. The insurance period runs out during the emergency situation, and although the person has renewed their insurance, it is not possible to obtain the original of t
It is important that a person can prove to the official that they have an insurance policy and the vehicle is insured, the corresponding document should be printed out and be available for inspection. If a person stays in Estonia for a longer period, then the insurance policy or the green card can be sent to Estonia by registered letter.
Can a person offering transportation services to the disabled still operate their service after March 25?
Yes. The social transport service will continue. The demand might be smaller than usual but the continuation of the service is definitely necessary, e.g. for dialysis and cancel patients. Hygiene requirements must be followed – washing or disinfecting hands, if necessary and possible (personal protective equipment is not accessible at the moment) using a mask or asking the customer to use a mask. The vehicle also has to be regularly cleaned and aired. There are different service providers – there are private providers but local municipalities also use their own drivers or social workers, for instance. The social workers of the local municipalities are also the ones that refer people to the service.
It has been suggested that people go to work by bicycle or on foot instead of using public transport. How safe are right now the bike rentals and electric scooters that gained popularity last year?
The operators of bicycle and scooter rentals are subject to the same conditions as other economic operators. They must regularly disinfect their fleet in order to prevent contamination. Likewise, the renter of a bike/scooter should take care and wash hands after using the transport. In Vilnius, the municipal authorities asked if Bolt (an e-scooter operator) could start with rental sooner, as public transport usage had decreased.
With the emergency situation restrictions in place, how many people are allowed to be in a car together?
As for any other place, the same principles apply when travelling by car. No more than 2 persons together, and sufficient distance has to be maintained. Exemptions apply to families travelling together.
If my final stage training was cancelled due to the emergency situation (only the theory part was not completed), may I continue driving with my provisional driving licence until a solution has been found or will I be fined?
According to the current regulation, completion of the final stage training is definitely necessary in order to exchange your provisional driving licence out for a permanent one. The Road Administration cannot grant exceptions to legal requirements, i.e. if the final stage training is not completed and the provisional driving license has expired, the right to drive is going to be suspended. Still, different ministries are co-operating in developing proposals that would allow documents (licence, certificate etc.) that have expired/will expire during the crisis period to be extended/considered valid until the end of the crisis, so that the right to drive motor vehicles would remain regardless of whether legal requirements are met. The Road Administration is also awaiting a solution. We will inform of the changes coming into force at first opportunity. For this we recommend following the web page of the Road Administration www.mnt.ee and the media.
Compulsory military service, the actions of the Voluntary Defence League (VDF)
How long will conscripts remain in their army base?
Major General Martin Herem has ordered all conscripts to stay in the bases until May 1, 2020, in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading to the army units.
Can no conscript leave their army base?
They will be allowed out only with sufficient reason.
Is it still possible to visit conscripts?
All visiting days to army bases have currently been cancelled. The situation and the possibility of visits will be reevaluated as the situation progresses.
Why are active servicemen allowed to go off the army base but conscripts are not?
Unlike the conscripts, active servicemen have daily obligations outside the Defence Force, to their family and close ones, which is why this kind of restriction is not considered necessary at this point. However, as a precautionary measure, the amount of contacts between active servicemen and conscripts has been reduced. The movement of active troops related to military training exercises is limited – if possible they will stay at the military base. All active servicemen are obligated to maintain self-discipline and avoid contacts outside of the army base and service.
Will the training of units be stopped?
Training will continue in smaller units and primarily outside, for example, in forest camps, and settlements will be avoided. This training regime is also a regular part of the training cycle. In training, the focus is mostly on the company level activity, so cooperation between units can continue in outdoors settings, but otherwise contacts between and outside of units is reduced to a minimum. Mostly internal communication means will be used and all training sessions indoors are cancelled.
What will happen with the various Defence Force training exercises planned for the near future, for example, Spring Storm?
Military training exercises continue, but with the restrictions necessary to prevent the spread of the virus. On 17 March, the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces decided to considerably reduce the extent of the military exercise Spring Storm 2020, and to change the location of the exercise.
The Commander of the Defence Forces has cancelled all training exercises until 31 May. Those reservists, who have received an invitation to training exercises (incl Spring Storm 2020) , do not have to come. Participation is strictly voluntary. If you would like to participate on a voluntary basis, please let your unit know and send them a statement of confirmation (avaldus).
The Spring Storm will not take place in the locations originally planned in central Estonia, but rather at the Defence Force main training centre. The objective is to reach the goals of the training exercise despite the complicated situation, but at the same time reduce contact with civilians. The Scouts Battalion fighters and a battlegroup from the allied forces currently based in Estonia will also participate at the exercise. The rest of the allied forces will likely not participate at the training exercise.
What kind of precautions have the defence forces taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 into the defence forces?
The Estonian Defence Forces have limited the movements of active troops abroad and have very critically reviewed the needs and objectives of foreign missions. The Estonian Defence Forces are not to be deployed abroad for foreign missions. All service personnel arriving from other countries will be working from home for the restriction period, if possible. As a preventive measure, the service personnel who might have been exposed to infected persons when abroad will be also working from home, if possible.
For each planned operation in Estonia, the heads of the military units will make a decision whether or not to cancel. If an event has participants who are from outside the Defence Forces, the head of the unit has the right to cancel or use remote work possibilities. Events that turn into public events will be coordinated with the local government.
All movements of active servicemen related to the training exercises of conscripts will be restricted, if possible they will stay at military bases overnight. Servicemen who display the symptoms of disease will work remotely.
How does the Defence Forces separate sick or people who are possible virus carriers from others?
As a precaution, quarantine and isolation are applied in the Defence Forces. Sick staff are placed in quarantine and are separated from others. The isolation is also applied to staff who have no symptoms but are suspected to have been exposed to the virus.
How is it possible to contact soldiers excluded from the training activities and how long is the duration of their exclusion?
Conscripts and active servicemen who might have been in contact with infected persons will be excluded from active military training for two weeks. Their food will be provided from them from the canteen and left behind the door with thermoses. Empty thermoses will be disinfected. Soldiers excluded from training, and soldiers who are not on leave can be contacted by their personal mobile phones, packages can be forwarded by post or delivered by hand and left at the gate of the military base.
How can I send a package to someone doing their national service?
Packages can be sent to national servicemen and women in the first and second infantry brigades through Omniva. It is requested not to bring packages in person. The name and the unit or battalion of the national serviceman or woman should be marked on the package. Please do not send perishable goods, as the delivery of packages may take some time. Packages should be sent to:
Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion: Kose tee 3a, Võru, 65603
Tapa military base: Loode 35, 45106 Tapa, Lääne-Viru maakond
Paldiski military base: Rae põik 1, 76806 Paldiski, Harju maakond
Jõhvi military base: Pargi 55, 41537 Jõhvi, Ida-Viru maakond
What happens to the Estonian troops currently serving on international missions? Will they return home? Will there be any new deployments?
In view of the current security situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Iraqi Government has proposed to postpone the current training activities for Iraqi units indefinitely. As a result, the Estonian training team, which served in Iraq as part of the Danish contingent, was sent back to Estonia. The flight home of the 6-member training team which is part of the US-led operation Inherent Resolve, is arranged by Denmark.
The Estonian Defence Forces are currently participating in nine different international military operations with slightly more than 100 active service members in total. According to the current plan, the Defence Forces will continue to participate in international military operations following already established principles.
Changes are made according to the changing situation in order to ensure the health and safety of the troops.
Due to the corona pandemic and the associated movement restrictions, the duration of the troops´ deployment may be extended. Changes are made according to the need and the changing situation.
How many Estonian soldiers in total are currently serving in foreign missions?
The defence forces are currently participating in nine different international military operations with slightly more than 100 active service members in total.
Have any of the servicemen currently participating in a foreign mission been infected with the corona virus?
Currently there have been no known infections of COVID-19 among the servicemen participating in international military operations.
Does the corona virus change the activities and tasks of the Estonian servicemen participating foreign missions in any way? Will the soldiers be brought back home?
According to the current plan, the defence forces will continue their participation in international military operations on the same principles, any changes made will be in accordance with the changing situation, to guarantee the health and safety of our units. Due to the spread of the corona virus, most of the countries in the world have declared an emergency situation on their territory and implemented an entry ban or restrictions to entry. As civil aviation companies are cancelling their flights due to airport closures and there are no departures or arrivals, the service time of servicemen participating in foreign missions will be extended up to two months or until air traffic is restored.
How is the safety of the soldiers participating in foreign missions and their protection from the corona virus guaranteed?
The headquarters of different military operations have already implemented and, if necessary, will implement further restrictions to the activities and tasks of the units in the framework of the operation to guarantee the safety of the personnel and avoid them getting infected with the virus. In addition to generally known hygiene requirements, the movement of people and contact with civilians will be restricted in necessary. The quarantine and isolation requirements already set by different countries will also apply to those going to the area of operations and returning from there.
Does the spread of the corona virus influence the return home of the soldiers in any way when their service time is up?
The COVID-19 pandemic and the traffic restrictions it has caused might extend the period of time that the units spend in the area of operations. The changes are made according to need and the changing situation.
Currently all planned vacations, terrain intelligence collections and visits have been either cancelled or postponed. This is mainly due to the wish to avoid people getting infected with the virus and the restrictions countries have set to international travel.
Why are the servicemen participating in foreign missions not able to come to Estonia for a vacation at the planned time?
Most countries in the world have implemented an entry ban or restrictions to entry and there are also compulsory quarantine periods in place upon entry into the country. Civil airlines are cancelling their flights due to airport closures. In this situation, all kind of international movement and crossing of state borders is more complicated.
The restrictions and bans are also in place in most of the countries where Estonian servicemen are participating in military operations or through which their transportation to the area of operations and home takes place. This means that the movement of people to the area of operation and back from there is currently more difficult. Taking into consideration the lowering of the infection risk of the soldiers serving in foreign missions, it is sensible to avoid their international movements until it becomes safer.
How can the servicemen participating in foreign missions communicate with those at home?
Keeping in touch and communicating with those at home takes place on the same principles as thus far, there are no changes or restrictions to that.
Could the soldiers participating in foreign missions run into problems with getting equipment and necessary supplies because of the transport issues?
The defence forces, in cooperation with our allies, guarantee that the units participating in international operations have all the necessary support and supplies.
What happens if a serviceman participating in a foreign mission gets infected with the corona virus?
Those who get sick during a military operation are guaranteed all possible medical help according to the order of things thus far. If necessary, the defence forces have the capability to extraordinarily transport the soldiers who are sick or in need of medical help back home.
Are the defence forces educational institutions also closed?
From Monday, the Defence Force Academy and the Baltic Defence College will switch to forms of distance learning. Specifics for students will be forthcoming from the institutions themselves.
What are the tasks for the defence forces in this emergency?
The inclusion of the Defence Forces into solving this crisis will be decided by the Government of Estonia. Emergency Law dictates a more accurate description of how and when the Defence Forces can be involved. The Defence Forces are prepared for action if the government decides to allocate additional tasks for them.
How does the state emergency influence the VDF?
All outdoor training operations are cancelled until the 1st of May. Where possible, they will be replaced with distance learning or other formats where there is no direct contact between people. For shooting and outdoor exercises, it will be up to local brigade chiefs to decide whether its suitable or not, taking into account local conditions and possible risks. Any competitions taking place across the VDF will be postponed until the 1st of May.
VDF/Women’s Voluntary Defence Organisation (WVDO) assistance to the Health Board and the Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB) will continue.
How long, and where exactly are members of the Women’s Voluntary Defence Organisation and the Defence League offering assistance?
The order of the government directs up to 40 members of the Defence League a day to assist the police on Saaremaa with the implementation of further restrictions to movement from March 30.
Even though more than 40 members of the Defence League cannot be on duty at one time, the number of Defence League members involved might be larger due to resting time and personnel changing out. Membership in the Defence League is voluntary.
With the involvement of the Defence League, the policemen and Defence League members will form patrol teams on Saaremaa. In addition to more extensive patrolling, the units will start checking potential gathering places, doing spot checks on adherence to the requirement of quarantining at home, and adherence to the 2+2 rule.
While on duty, the active members of the Defence League will wear the uniform of the Defence Forces with a reflective vest that has a clearly visible marking “KORRAKAITSE” (“law enforcement”). A vehicle of the Defence League used for carrying out duties must be marked with a label or a sticker “KORRAKAITSE”.
The order is in force until there is no need to involve the Defence League anymore but no loger than the end of the emergency situation.
With the order of the government from 17 March, up to 150 members of the Defence League a day support the police in carrying out border controls for a period of one month.
Members of the Women’s Voluntary Defence Organisation are assisting the Estonian Health Board call centre and the Emergency Response Centre hotline and distribute health information at transportation hubs.
How are members of the WVDO and VDF involved?
The involvement of volunteers for assistance is fulfilling duties as set out in the Voluntary Defence Force Law § 33. The duties are first fixed in a form permitting written reproduction, which means the leaders of structural units will issue a written invitation and a corresponding directive. VDF members have the right to use unpaid leave if necessary. Structural units will issue notices to employers in this event.
With regard to compensation, the VDF will enforce League Act § 57 (4) and (5) meaning the basis for calculating compensation is the average wage last published by Statistics Estonia. While fulfilling duties for the VDF an hourly wage will be paid and hours will be counted. In addition, members will be guaranteed catering and compensated for travel costs.
All people called to service will be healthy people with no chronic diseases. In addition to active members, supporting and honorary members may be called to service. Junior members will not be engaged.
A VDF member will fulfill their service duties in uniform. For those without uniforms, they will be provided one from the brigade. VDF members are obligated to use the forms of self-protection approved by the Health Board and PBGB (respirator, rubber gloves, protective glasses, or visor) and to follow hygiene regulations.
Why are members of the Estonian Defence League invited to carry out border control tasks and is participation mandatory for the members? Is it also possible to refuse?
Yes, refusal is possible. The Defence League (including the Woman´s Voluntary Defence Organisation) invites people to serve on a voluntary basis – i.e. who is able to help and wants to help can participate. This is not an order that has to be followed. The task of the Defence League is to support the police in carrying out border control function, this task is performed based on the Police and Border Guard Board mutual assistance request and the government decision, where 150 members are recruited for a period of 30 days. Since it is not conceivable that the task of border control is carried out by the same people for 30 days, the invitation to serve has been sent to more members to allow for shift changes.
What happens if a volunteer gets infected with COVID-19?
The VDF will not compensate for the costs related to sickness or loss-of-income due to quarantine. Active health insurance is strictly recommended so that treatment is possible upon infection. If a participant should develop permanent health problems or death, then those cases will be handled separately – compensation will be decided by the Minister of Defence.
When and how are medical examinations taking place?
The DDR is cancelling all medical examinations until the end of March. Any information about further examinations will be provided as the situation progresses. Anyone affected by the change will be informed by the DDR via email.
Anyone affected by the change will be informed by the DDR via email. Additional information can be acquired through the use of the usual methods of communicating with the DDR: kaitsevaeteenistus.ee, [email protected], tel 800 2525 ja 717 0700, messenger.
When will the field hospital of the Defence Forces get to Saaremaa?
The Defence Forces are planning to get the field hospital operational on Saaremaa for admitting the first patients by April 2.
How many beds does the field hospital of the Defence Forces have?
The field hospital has been configured to be able to admit a maximum number of patients requiring emergency and intensive care. The field hospital becoming operational creates up to 20 intensive care beds and up to 40 more general ward beds in tents.
Courts, prosecutors and prisons
Are hearings taking place?
While court proceedings in Estonia also take place in emergency situation, the court will consider all cases individually, it will certainly increase its use of digital solutions, and decisions will be made regarding the use of a written procedure, potential cancellation of the sitting or, if necessary, the organisation of the session in the Chamber.
Will the session take place when I am sick?
People summoned to court who have symptoms of the disease or who have been in close contact with the virus carrier must report to the court and will not be allowed to enter the courthouse. During the session, questions may be asked regarding the health status of the parties, and their recent travels. If a person who has been summoned to appear before the judge considers it to be dangerous for their health, they must inform the court, and the court will then decide on whether further proceedings are possible.
How can I contact the Court?
The Registries of all Estonian courts are open on working days from 9am to 1pm. The court information lines are working as usual. The information telephone numbers for courts can be found on the kohus.ee website. The courts request the forwarding of documents electronically, by email, or that they are left in the post box, and that entry to the Registry is avoided. The Court shall examine the documents submitted and contact the person, if necessary. The document may be issued electronically or by post.
What are the changes in the work of the prosecutor’s office?
The prosecutor’s office has stopped receiving citizens. The prosecutor’s office can be contacted by telephone or email, the contact details are on the website https://www.prokuratuur.ee/en.
Where can I get a information about organization of work at prisons?
Questions about the organisation of work at prisons and in criminal custody should be directed to the information telephone line 620 8292. Information can also be found from the prisons website www.vangla.ee.
What restrictions will apply in prisons during the state of emergency?
Prison visits have been stopped from 14 March. Prisons are currently not taking receipt of packages delivered in person. Packages sent by post are still being received. Personal telephone calls can be made only once a week in prisons during the time that the virus is spreading. Additional restrictions on movement have been in force in prisons from 16 March. The risk of the virus is being constantly monitored in prisons, and decisions about changing restrictions are being taken as required.
Churches, weddings, funerals
Can I get married? What are the special requirements?
If the appointment for the registration of marriage has been made at the Civil Registration Office, please contact the Office in advance and check for existing restrictions. In the interest of safety, it is quite likely that only the couple will be allowed to the Office. Wedding parties must be postponed. All gatherings, including parties at home where more people are participating than the immediate family, must now be postponed. The coronavirus spreads very easily, many people do not have any symptoms and they unknowingly transmit the virus.
Due to the emergency situation it is currently not possible to submit a marriage application.
In public places and indoors (except home), at least 2-metre distance should be kept from other people. Public places would include playgrounds, sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking trails, etc. In a public place it is not allowed for more than 2 people to be together, this restriction does not apply to families and to people carrying out official public functions.
Can a funeral be arranged? What are the special requirements?
A funeral can be organised, but it is important to bear in mind:
Include only a small number of family and friends.
Only the closest members of the family should attend the funeral. 30 people would not be reasonable. For example, if grandmother died, then the funeral could be attended by the grandfather, and their children but not grandchildren or cousins and friends. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid indoor events, the funeral ceremony should be held at the graveyard. Holding a wake is not permitted.
Foreign nationals can submit an application for an Estonian visa due to exceptional circumstances to:
Border crossing points (justified, if it was not possible to apply for a visa at an embassy).
Is cremation recommended or is it possible to hold a burial of the body?
It is up to the funeral organisers whether they prefer cremation and urn burial or not to have the body cremated and to choose the casket burial.
Is it possible to hold a wake and how many people can be allowed to attend the funeral?
Holding a wake should be completely avoided, as gathering of people is not allowed due to the emergency situation Coronavirus is very infectious, so physical contacts should be avoided.
Do regular church services take place?
No gatherings will take place. All religious-ecclesiastical public events, including religious services, church concerts and other gatherings of people, have been cancelled or postponed. The conduct of religious services is permitted in unavoidable and isolated circumstances, and will be held privately, provided that measures are guaranteed to prevent possible spread of infection.
In public places it is important to stay at least 2-metres apart from other people. Only 2 people are allowed to be together. This restriction does not apply to families and people carrying out public tasks.
Where can I find information on the online worship services of congregations?
On the Sundays during the emergency situation it is possible to watch prayer half-hours in Estonian on ETV2 channel at 11:00 and in Russian on ETV+ channel at 7:30.
Additionally, it is possible to watch online worship services of different congregations. For more specific information see here for different churches:
The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (19.05 KB, XLSX)
Estonian Methodist Church (13.33 KB, DOCX)
Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (12.41 KB, DOCX)
Roman Catholic Church (11.73 KB, DOCX)
Seventh-day Adventist Church (11.74 KB, DOCX)
[The Union of Free Evangelical and Baptist Churches of Estonia]((https://www.siseministeerium.ee/sites/default/files/eesti_evangeeliumi_kristlaste_ja_baptistide_koguduste_liit.docx) (12.04 KB, DOCX)
Are the churches open?
Churches and other prayer venues used by religious organizations can remain open for private visits, so that people can fulfill their personal religious needs. For detailed information please ask the representative of a specific church or prayer hall.
Is it possible to go to confession?
Religious rites are allowed only in unavoidable specific cases and privately if measures are taken to avoid possible infection of people. You have to keep at least 2 meters apart from other people, unless it is not possible to guarantee this. Up to 2 people can be together in a public place.
Does communion take place?
Religious rites are allowed only in unavoidable specific cases and privately if measures are taken to avoid possible infection of people. You have to keep at least 2 meters apart from other people, unless it is not possible to guarantee this. Up to 2 people can be together in a public place.
Does pastoral counseling take place?
Religious rites are allowed only in unavoidable specific cases and privately if measures are taken to avoid possible infection of people. You have to keep at least 2 meters apart from other people, unless it is not possible to guarantee this. Up to 2 people can be together in a public place.
Are there special requirements for attending church?
At church the same rules of hygiene and avoiding infection apply as in all public spaces. You have to keep at least 2 meters apart from other people, unless it is not possible to guarantee this. Up to 2 people can be together in a public place.
Can I participate at service in another way?
We highly recommend electronic channels to participate at church services.
Waste, waste management
If I have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or if I suspect that I have been infected, how should I dispose of my infected waste (masks, gloves, paper tissues, etc.)?
If you are ill or if you suspect illness, the waste you produce should be placed in a plastic bag, tied tightly and discarded among the mixed municipal waste. Since people do come in direct contact with waste, it should be considered contagious. Therefore, it is important that possibly contaminated waste should not be sorted.
Disinfectant bottles are packages, where should they be discarded?
Packages, paper and cardboard, and other waste should still be sorted, but if possible, wait for disposal until you are well. If you cannot wait with the disposal, then possibly contaminated waste should not be discarded according to the type of waste, but closed in plastic bags and discarded in the mixed municipal waste bins. If you are not sure of whether your waste is contaminated or not, act as if it is.
How can I take out the garbage while quarantined?
In single family, detached homes it is simple – keep an eye on the waste sorting requirements during the emergency situation and take the waste to the wheeled bin. In apartment buildings it is more complicated, and the best thing to do would be to not go outside your apartment during the quarantine. However, if it seems that the collected waste is starting to become perceptibly problematic, ask someone’s help in getting it to the wheeled bin. This means that the waste must be closed in a plastic bag and the bag placed outside the apartment door, while wearing single use rubber gloves. Someone, also wearing protective gear, will then take it away.
If I am well, not contagious, and staying home, like everyone, what should I do about sorting waste?
In that case, everything will work as it usually does and you can continue sorting waste. We would like to remind you that tissues should not be discarded among the paper waste. Usually tissues, including single use napkins and paper towels, should be discarded among the biodegradable waste.
Empty disinfectant bottles are packages and should be placed in the package bin.
Disposable rubber gloves that you might use, for example, when going to the shop, should be discarded among the mixed municipal waste, preferably in a closed plastic bag.
It is very important to wash hands with warm water and soap or use disinfectant. We would like to emphasise that you should do this also after touching the waste bin.
How is waste collection organised in hospitals, health care institutions?
Gloves, masks, and other personal protection equipment should be considered contaminated waste and disposed of according to the requirements in that health care institution. The Estonian Waste Management Association (Eesti Jäätmekäitlejate Liit/EJKL) centre of competence published guidelines (https://www.ejkl.ee/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/JUHENDMATERJAL.-Tervishoiul-tekkivate-jtmete-kitlus..pdf) in 2019 for waste created in health care, which also includes a section on managing contagious waste.
Are waste collection points open, is it possible to dispose of waste during the emergency situation?
First, please make sure that the waste collection points are open. Currently most of them have temporarily closed and are not accepting waste. Additionally, it is recommended to stay in self-isolation, and to avoid contacts with other people.
However, if you have a need for waste disposal, and the waste collection point is open, you will still need to maintain 2m distance and avoid all possible contacts.
ID-cards can be used for identification only if it is possible to avoid contact with another person when handing the ID-card over (for example, the client can introduce the card to the card reader themselves). Other means of identification would involve checking the persons address.
Avoid cash payments at the waste collection point, use only card payments.
People might use this time to rid of their households of waste, therefore the local government should provide information to their residents whether the waste disposal is possible. If the waste collection point of this local government is closed, the local government will need to provide appropriate information to the residents.
How should the work of the waste collection points be organised during the emergency situation?
The waste collection point should avoid cash payments to avoid the spread of the virus and permit only card payments.
ID-cards can be used for identification only if it is possible to avoid contact with another person when handing the ID-card over (for example, the client can introduce the card to the card reader themselves). Other means of identification would involve checking the persons address.
The employees of the waste management point must be aware of potential risks and observe stricter hygiene requirements.
Do not touch the waste at the waste collection point, it might be contaminated. If possible, wait at least 72 hours before you start with waste treatment process to avoid infection.
At the waste collection point the work procedures and the use of space must be organised so it would allow sufficient distance between people, for example avoiding contact when queueing, etc.
At the waste collection point, use disinfectants regularly to clean the ID card reader, the card payment terminal, and other frequent use surfaces (doorknobs, handles, etc.).
If the waste collection point on the territory of the local government is closed, the local government will need to provide appropriate information to the residents. People might use this time to rid of their households of waste, therefore the local government should provide information to their residents whether the waste disposal is possible. It is recommended to avoid going to the waste collection points even if they are open until the virus is under control – this is safer both for the employees of the waste collection points and the residents.
When working at the waste disposal point it is very important to wash your hands with soap and warm water often or to use disinfectants.
What are the requirements for waste management during the emergency situation?
An employer must ensure that their employees are aware of the possible dangers and guidelines for conduct during the emergency situation. All the usual requirements set out in law and in the environmental license still apply, including safety requirements for waste management.
Mixed municipal waste, which can contain waste generated by infected people, should not be handled before incineration or storage. Processing should only be automatised and people should not have contact with that type of waste.
Frequently used surfaces, such as door knobs and handles, devices, etc, should be disinfected regularly.
Employees must have the opportunity to wash hands frequently with warm water and soap or use disinfectants.
If I have used single-use mask and gloves in a shop, how do I dispose of them after shopping?
if you have been in a public space, such as a food store, put your used mask, gloves, tissues and other items which might be a potential source of contamination, into a separate plastic bag, close the bag firmly, so it would not pose danger to the others. Some stores have separate disposal units for the disposal of personal protective equipment. If there are no special units, dispose of your used personal protection equipment as general household waste.
the used personal protective equipment must not be placed in the rubbish bin in a way that would allow access to these items for other persons, such as people searching through the rubbish who might get infected this way. The used personal protective equipment or other waste must not be thrown anywhere else outside the store nor in any green areas.
If I use a home-made mask, how do I dispose of it?
Instructions on how to make a home-made mask have been published by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority. https://www.ttja.ee/et/uudised/ttja-koostas-juhendi-kuidas-valmistada-nii-meditsiinilisi-kui-isetehtud-maske
If the mask can be used more than once, then according to the instructions it needs to be washed in the washing machine at no less than 60 degrees.
If you want to dispose of the mask after the use, put it in a plastic bag, close the bag firmly and dispose it to the general household waste.
If you want to dispose of the mask after the end of the emergency situation when there is no more risk of spreading the virus, dispose it to the textile waste.
Where should I put construction and demolition waste?
Construction and demolition waste should be taken to a waste treatment plant or a skip should be ordered for them from a waste transporter. Construction and demolition waste cannot be taken to mixed municipal waste or package containers or next to them even in an emergency situation.
Am I allowed to burn my waste in a bonfire to avoid any risk of infection?
No. Burning waste in a bonfire or in a home stove or fireplace is forbidden as poisonous compounds hazardous to heath are released in the course of it.
Due to the emergency situation I have moved to my summerhouse – how should I arrange for waste management here?
If, due to the emergency situation, you have moved to the summer house or a country residence, please sign a waste management contract also for that address so all your waste would be handled appropriately.
Public waste disposal containers for packaging waste cannot be used for household waste, nor can the household waste be taken to bins at stores or bus stops.
Waste removal contract can be conveniently concluded online, find your regional waste management website, such as Ragn-Sells http://www.ragnsells.ee or Eesti Keskkonnateenused http://www.keskkonnateenused.ee .
If you do not know who your contractual regional waste management company is then you can find this information on the website of the local government or environmental office.
How can I contribute as a volunteer to help in the crisis situation?
• Care about the safety and health of yourself and others. Before volunteering, make sure you are healthy and capable of protecting yourself and others from the virus. Do not put yourself at risk by helping others and do not spread the viruse yourself. If you belong to a risk group – you are older than 60, or have some chronic illness – it is makes sense to stay at home and not put yourself in unnecessary danger. If you belong to a risk group, you can help people with offering support over the telephone, for example. Follow the instructions of the Estonian Health Board. https://www.terviseamet.ee/et/uuskoroonaviirus
• In the case of calls for voluntary action, it is necessary to maintain calm and make sure that the purpose inspires confidence, the intermediary and the person issuing the call are reliable, in order to prevent rapid spread of the virus and to protect yourself from fraud.
• If you are healthy and you want to contribute as a volunteer and help people in need, start close to your home – your residential building, street, village, community, society. It is important to ensure that no one is ignored or, vice versa, puts himself at risk by helping someone or receiving help from someone else. Physical contacts should be avoided when providing assistance to minimise and prevent further spread of the virus and not to cause greater harm.
• Follow official calls and use reliable channels for volunteering.
• If you want to provide assistance to organisations on a voluntary basis, or you need support for volunteering, the Ministry of the Interior recommends to use the Vabatahtlike Värav (Volunteer Portal) at https://www.vabatahtlikud.ee . This site also contains summary guidelines for volunteers and NGOs regarding how to act in the current situation. The portal is managed by the Estonian Village Movement, Kodukant.
• The need for assistance or offering assistance from a person to a person or community to a community can also be recorded at https://www.kogukondaitab.ee , this is a platform connecting people who need help and volunteers. This is a solution developed at the hackathon Hack the Crisis.
• If you are an entrepreneur or a specialist with a specific skills, and you want to provide assistance to the State in the crisis situation, use the portal https://www.eesti.ee/pakunabi . This is a portal established in cooperation with the Ministryof Economic Affairs and Communications and the Agency of the Estonian Information System Authority, which collects data from companies wishing to provide assistance to the State in a crisis.
All these platforms will merge in the near future as the Ministry of Interior has funded a website: https://www.vabatahtlikud.ee.
Why is there an Emergency Situation in Estonia and what does it mean?
On 12 March 2020, the government formed a commission to handle the spread of the coronavirus and to manage economic problems. The government has also declared an Emergency Situation in Estonia for the first time since regaining independence. The Emergency Situation was declared in order to contain the spread of the virus.
The following conditions must be met for a declaration of an Emergency Situation:
it must be an Emergency Situation that arises due to the spreading of an infectious disease
an Emergency Situation is one that cannot be resolved without the coordinated activities of the authorities
to resolve the Situation, the measures for resolving an Emergency Situation must be applied
To stop further cases of the COVID-19 virus from coming to Estonia.
To contain the local spread of the COVID-19 virus in Estonia.
To ensure the capability of the health care system in eradicating and treating COVID-19.
To avoid panic in the society and increase awareness about the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
To ensure that the population will be able to cope with the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 virus.
To ensure the functioning of the Estonian economy to an extent that is as normal as possible.
Which measures can be used in an Emergency Situation to resolve the coronavirus crisis?
The most important measures that the Emergency Situation status provides in the coronavirus crisis are the opportunities to:
Apply restrictions to stays and movement. A person can be placed under the obligation to leave an Emergency Situation area or part of that area, and a person can be prohibited from staying in an Emergency Situation area or part of that area.
Restrict public gatherings and events. The Emergency Situation allows limiting public meetings and public events in the Emergency Situation area.
If the state budget has to be amended or a draft supplementary budget initiated due to an Emergency Situation, the time limitations in the State Budget Act do not apply to the amendment and the draft supplementary budget initiation.
Additionally, the stabilisation reserve funds can be used to cover costs.
In order to contain the further spread of the virus, it is important to observe orders issued by the government and other authorities. The government decided to prohibit public gatherings and implement distance learning in schools, to implement sanitary checks at borders, and to close cultural and sports institutions until 1 May 2020.
As of 25 March, in public places (such as outdoor playgrounds and open air sports facilities, beaches, promenades, hiking and biking trails) and indoor spaces (except at home), people must keep a distance of at least 2 m from others. Only two people at most can gather in public places. This restriction does not apply to families moving around together and to people in official public functions.
As of 27 March on the order of the person in charge of the emergency situation, shopping centres will be closed. The only shops that will remain open in centres are grocery stores, pharmacies, telecommunication companies’ sales representations, bank offices, parcel lockers and shops, that either sell or lease equipment for the disabled and medical devices based on the assistive equipment card or a medical device card. Eateries can only sell take-away food.
Other stores must follow the principle of people moving only either alone or with one more person, and at least 2 metres of distance must be kept between people. Entrances and exits must be equipped with disinfectants. Shops must guarantee the following of these rules. Restaurants, bars and other entertainment establishments must close at 10 pm, except for take-away and delivery of food.
Leisure and entertainment establishments are also closed (for example, bowling, pool, hookah cafes, adult entertainment clubs).
Where can I get more information about changes caused by the emergency situation?
First of all, you will get information from this FAQ, which is developed in co-operation with various agencies and is updated every day. Secondly, on the same site you can see a chat-bot Suve, you can ask questions about the emergency, and hopefully the robot can answer most of them. At the moment, the chat robot is able to answer questions in Estonian and English. We are working to develop the Russian language version of the robot. Suve is based on artificial intelligence and has been taught to respond using these frequently asked questions as the database. The idea of an automated chat bot Suve was developed in co-operation with the Estonian start-up community, Garage 48 and Accelerate Estonia during the Hack the Crisis Hackathon.
On 16 March, the Emergency Response Centre new hotline 1247 started working, (when calling from outside Estonia +372 600 1247), which shares information on the spread of coronavirus and the emergency situation. The hotline is working in three languages (Estonia, Russian, English) 24/7 and is free of charge for the callers. No medical advice can be offered from this number. If you need medical consultation, please call 1220, where people with medical training respond to your call.
Why must the spread of the virus be contained?
The spread of the virus is a complicated phenomenon, which has a deep impact on life in Estonia. Dealing with this issue demands our full attention.
We have to keep our people healthy and alleviate economic concerns.
We must act responsibly and protect ourselves and those closest to us. We especially have to protect the elderly, those in weaker health and with chronic diseases, for whom the virus may prove to be the most dangerous.
The government would like to thank all individuals, businesses and organisations that are acting according to guidelines and offering help to the state and their close ones.
The government is developing solutions to soften the economic impact of remote working and temporary closures of businesses and institutions.
What are the tasks of the government commission created on 12 March?
On 12 March, 2020, the government formed a commission to handle the spread of the coronavirus and to manage problems related to public health and the economy.
The task of the government commission is to ensure that situations concerning the spread of the virus are resolved, to coordinate the cooperation of state and local government instances, and to coordinate the use of resources and capabilities.
The commission has the right to delegate tasks to the executive branch of the state authorities and to obtain information from them about the completion of tasks.
Who belongs to the government commission?
The activities of the commission are headed by the Prime Minister. The commission members include: the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of Social Affairs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Education and Research, the Minister of Defence, and the Secretary of State. The commission may include additional members in its work as needed.
The current inter-agency working group, led by the Minister of Social Affairs, transferred the work to a team assisting the Government Committee, consisting of representatives of the ministries and agencies concerned.
When and how often does the Government Commission meet?
The Government Commission meets three times a week: on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
On Thursdays, after the government meeting, there will be an extended meeting of the Commission where all members of the government participate.
Why doesn’t the government disclose the detailed content of emergency situation related procurements?
The public interest is, of course, understandable because tax-payers money is being used for the purchases. The Ministry of Finance and the State Shared Service Centre have analysed the special situation on the world markets and have concluded that currently it is not advisable to publish detailed procurement information. During the time of crises buyers compete for suppliers, and the state does not want to risk that our suppliers will be “hijacked”. This approach is also supported by the Public Information Act, which states that the head of a public or local government body or a legal entity of public law, may limit the use of information for internal use only, when the information pertains to national defence tasks and mitigation of the consequences of an emergency and the provision of resources for this purpose. This is the case when the disclosure of this information may affect the establishment of the reserve, as is in this case with the provision of personal protective equipment. Doctors and nurses, also police officers, rescue workers and others on the front line have been waiting for these supplies, as well as the rest of the population. There is a danger of outbidding for supplies and the supplies going to someone else, therefore the limits have been set for published information. Once the emergency situation resolves, and the supplies have arrived, additional information can be provided.
What is the role of the Government Committee Scientific Advisory Board?
On 20 March, the Government Committee of the Emergency Situation convened a Scientific Advisory Board to gather and to analyse expert information for the Government Committee. Among other things, the impact of the restrictions currently in force on the prevention and control of the spread of the virus will be assessed. Professor Irja Lutsar of the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine of the University of Tartu was approved as head of the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board. The members of the Advisory Board are Kristi Rüütel, Research Secretary of the National Institute for Health Development, chief doctor Peep Talving of North-Estonian Regional Hospital, Professor of Surgical Diseases at the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Tartu, Doctor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tartu Pillerin Soodla and Applied Virologist at the University of Tartu Professor Andres Merits.
Will the economic working group initiated by the Minister of Finance continue their work? What kind of measures are planned?
The economic working group brought together by the Minister of Finance will continue its work. In addition to the Minister of Finance, the working group also includes Taavi Aas, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure; Kaimar Karu, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology; Ülo Kaasik, Deputy Governor of Eesti Pank; as well as experts from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Government Office and Eesti Pank. Tanel Kiik, the Minister of Social Affairs, will continue to participate in the working group on matters related to labour.
The State is preparing financial measures to support businesses in difficulty. You can read more about the content of the short-term package under the heading ‘Economics, Entrepreneurship’.
Where can the local municipality get the latest information about implementing the decisions of the government?
Local municipalities will receive the latest information about the government decisions and their implementation from the regional crisis commissions.Local municipalities will receive the latest information about the government decisions and their implementation from the regional crisis commissions. The information on different topics that have to do with the local municipalities can also be found on the web page of the Ministry of Finance: https://www.rahandusministeerium.ee/et/koroonaviiruse-korduma-kippuvad-kusimused.
How should the sittings of a council and a government of a city or a rural municipality be held during the emergency situation?
In order to protect people’s health, holding public gatherings, meetings and events has been prohibited by the government during the emergency situation.
This is why we also recommend that during the emergency situation first-hand meetings be avoided when organizing the sittings of councils and governments, committees of the councils or other forms of work at the local municipalities.
We recommend that local municipalities utilize electronic forms of work for holding the sittings of councils, governments and committees.
In order to organize their work, a local municipality can decide to:
hold the sittings of the council and the government electronically,
declare a closed sitting of the council,
cancel the sittings of the council, if possible.
At the same time it must be guaranteed that the budget of the rural municipality or a city is adopted within the first three months of the budget year and that the council retains its ability to act.
The Local Government Organization Act (abbreviated KOKS in Estonian) does not set any restrictions to holding the sittings of the council electronically, whether by using the VOLIS information system, Skype or any other application. According to the Local Government Organization Act, the sittings of the council need to be public. In the case of electronic sittings the publication requirement can also be met when the participants are identifiable in picture and sound (e.g. Skype) and there is a so-called broadcast of the sitting in real time.
The council has the right to call for a closed sitting if there are more than twice as many members of the council voting for it than there are voting against it, or if making the information regarding the issue public would be prohibited by law or restricted. In that case there does not need to be a public broadcast of the sitting.
A more precise order of carrying out council sittings is foreseen in the rules of procedure of every council. Exceptionally, it is possible to hold electronic council sittings even when the rules of procedure of the given council do not authorize this.
More information can be found in the portal https://omavalitsus.fin.ee/korduma-kippuvad-kusimused-kovide-tookorraldus-eriolukorras/
Ask for more information on issues regarding the implementation of the Local Government Organization Act during the emergency situation from [email protected]
How will planning applications be processed by local authorities during the state of emergency?
While the state of emergency lasts, you will find information on processing of planning applications on the website https://www.planeerimine.ee/.
Where can you find legislation regarding emergency situation? Is the information available also in Russian and English?
Legislation on emergency situation will be published on the website of the Official Journal, where all legislation is available under direct links. The Acts of the Government of the Republic and the Orders of the person in charge of the emergency situation shall be published as soon as they have been submitted by the Office of the State, in case of amendments the wording is revised. The latest legislative acts are marked as ´New´ for the ease of use. If any new legistlative acts on emergency situation are published, the Facebook page of the Official Journal will be updated accordingly.
Both Estonian-language legislative acts and translations are constantly updated. The updates are published as the new wording of the whole text.
Additional information can be requested by e-mail to [email protected]
Is the Government preparing to restrict human rights and freedom of expression?
No, Estonia defends fundamental rights also during the emergency situation, nor does it mean that Estonia has stopped ensuring the rights which are laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights, but we are fulfilling our duty of notification. Estonia notified the Council of Europe on March 20 of the restrictions imposed in order to resolve the emergency situation. The Government of the Republic established the emergency situation in Estonia on March 12 due to the pandemic spread of coronavirus in the world and in Estonia. This emergency situation is set to last until May 1, 2020. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, restrictions on national and cross-border movements have been established in Estonia, changes have been made to the provision of education and the judicial system, restrictions established on communication, etc.
This is a situation which corresponds to the emergency situation referred to in Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Estonia informed the Council of Europe of the measures taken. Information was provided that Estonia will continue ensuring the international human rights, including the rights which are laid out in the Convention. The filing of the notice ensures that the European Court of Human Rights is aware of the measures imposed in Estonia (e.g. restrictions on freedom of assembly) and that the basis corresponds to legal measures in Estonia.
Implementing emergency measures and notifying the Council of Europe does not exempt Estonia from fulfilment of fundamental rights. We are a democratic state and this emergency situation will not change that fact. All measures taken during the emergency situation must be justified and proportionate. Estonian will adhere to valid laws and ensure the protection of the rights of individuals also in the emergency situation.
Notification link: https://vm.ee/et/uudised/eesti-suursaadik-teavitas-euroopa-noukogu-eestis-rakendatud-eriolukorra-meetmetest.
Does the emergency situation alter the payment of maintenance?
Emergency situation doesn’t mean that the costs associated with the needs of the child have diminished. It could mean the opposite – children are staying home and the spending on food may have increased. Keep in mind that during crisis the income of the primary parent might have decreased.
In case of financial problems or diminished income both parents should first try to agree on finding temporary solutions. If this is not possible, they should follow the decision on how the . maintenance allowance has been set. See Ministry of Justice home page: https://www.just.ee/et/eesmargid-tegevused/praktilisi-nouandeid
Does the emergency situation mean the custody arrangement of parents and children can be amended?
The custody arrangements and relevant court orders are still valid during the time of emergency, but their implementation must be based on the objective of the restrictions imposed due to the emergency situation. If the other parent or one of their family members is sick or suspected of the infection, it is important to avoid any contact with them. This also applies to the parent who is looking after the children. The rules of the emergency situation must be observed in any case, i.e. people who have the infection or who are suspected of having the infection must be isolated for two weeks or until they recover, and they need to avoid contacts with other people, including their children. Please go to the website of the Ministry of Justice for additional information.
How much must the disease retreat for the restrictions to lessen? Have such criteria been agreed upon? Would it happen when the rate of infection stops increasing? Starts decreasing? Most of the infected have been cured? Something else?
This picture is formed by combining different models. The most important thing is the operability of the health care system, which is something that we are all working hard towards every day.
The Government Office formed a planning group on March 27 and one of its tasks is to put together a strategy for exiting the emergency situation. The drafting of an exit strategy has begun and the first version will be presented to the Government Commission on April 14. The government has also convened a Scientific Advisory Board for Combating COVID-19 that is tasked with providing expert advice to the Government Commission for the decisions they have to take during the emergency situation and make prognoses for the future.
What happens if a large number of government members get infected? Are the prepared people who are kept informed but isolated and who are ready to immediately take over for a government member who has succumbed to the virus?
The necessary support for the work of the government is guaranteed under all circumstances but we cannot reveal the exact plans. The government can take decisions over means of telecommunications and the Government Office guarantees the government all the necessary support and overview. For this, only people who unavoidably have to be there are in the office, there are all the means necessary for distance working and, if needed, the work will take place in shifts.
Source: Postimees News