You are here

Emergency situation in Estonia

The Government of Estonia has declared the emergency situation on 12th March due to the worldwide pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 and the threat of mass infections.

The emergency situation has been declared to contain the spread of the virus. The government has decided to ban public gatherings and implement distant learning at schools, it has implemented sanitary controls at the border and closed cultural institutions until 1st of May. The emergency situation allows to implement emergency command organization. A government commission headed by the prime minister, has been established to solve the emergency situation. Unless decreed otherwise by the government, the emergency situation remains in force until 1 May 2020.

To help to contain the spreading of the virus it is important to follow the orders of the government and other official institutions. Responsible behavior will protect ourselves, our close ones and people with weakened immune system like the elderly and chronically ill.

The government thanks all people and organizations that follow the guidelines of the government and help those in need. The government is working on solutions to soften the impact of remote work and temporary closure of organizations on the economy.

Additional infomation: kriis.ee/en

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Emergency Situation

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.

Government objectives:

  • 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.

Why must the spread of the virus be contained?

The spread of the virus is a complicated issue, which affects many parts of everyday life in Estonia. Dealing with the issue demands our full attention.

When dealing with the virus, it is first and foremost important that issues concerning public health are addressed effectively. It is also important to alleviate economic problems that will arise. Damages done by the spread of the virus must be reduced to a minimum.
By acting responsibly, we are protecting ourselves, those closest to us, the elderly, those with a weakened immune system, and those suffering from chronic diseases – they are the ones who may experience the most dangerous effects of the virus.

The government thanks everyone – individuals, businesses and organisations – who have taken heed of the issued guidelines and who are helping their close ones in stopping the spread of the virus. 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 State Secretary. The commission may include additional members in its work as needed.

The working group led by the Minister of Social Affairs, which led the work so far, will pass on the work to the adjunct team that is assisting the government commission, which will also include the representatives of the relevant ministries and departments.

When and how often does the government commission meet?

The government commission will meet three times per week: on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Thursdays, after the government meeting, the commission work will take place in an extended regime, with the participation of all members of the government.

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 developing economic measures to support, among others, the tourism sector, which has experienced severe difficulties. The government commission will discuss this issue during the week of 16 March.

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-k....

How should the sittings of the councils and governments of cities and rural municipalities be held during the emergency situation?

In order to protect people’s health, holding public gatherings, including public meetings and public events, has been prohibited by the government. This is why we also recommend that during the emergency situation physical meetings be avoided when organizing the sittings of councils and governments, committees of the councils or other formations.

We recommend that local municipalities utilize electronic forms of work for holding the sittings of councils, governments and committees. Local municipalities can also consider using the option of teleworking as much as possible.

Local municipalities can choose different forms of work to organize their activities. They can, for example, decide to carry out the sittings of the council and government electronically, or to call a closed sitting in order to prevent the spreading of the disease. Local municipalities also have the option of deciding to cancel their council sittings in March, if necessary and possible. This can only be done if it does not create a situation whereby, for instance, the budget of the rural municipality or city does not get adopted within three months of the beginning of the budget year and the council thus becomes unable 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 meeting during a discussion of an issue if there are more than twice as many members of the council who vote for it than there are those that vote 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. Even if the council’s rules of procedure do not prescribe the possibility of carrying out the sittings of the council electronically but a state of emergency has been called in the country or the current important mattes of the local municipality dictate the need to carry out council sittings, it is exceptionally possible to hold electronic council sittings even when the rules of procedure of the given council do not authorize this.
More information on issues regarding the implementation of the Local Government Organization Act can be obtained by writing to repo[at]fin[dot]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 www.riigiteataja.ee, 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 ert[at]riigiteataja[dot]ee.

Coronavirus diagnosis and treatment

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 and you have not travelled abroad: Carefully observe the regular hand hygiene guidelines and, if possible, stay home until you are well again.
  • 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 and you have not travelled to a risk area - 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, but it can be assumed that after the disease has run its course, immunity will develop for a certain time, but it is not known for how long.

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.


The Estonian National Institute for Health Development has also recently written about looking after risk groups and limiting the spread of the virus:

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 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.

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 March 21, 306 people had been diagnosed with the corona virus in Estonia, up 23 cases from yesterday. From January 31, altogether 2812 COVID-19 test have been done. Most patients with the corona virus have mild symptoms, 14 people are in hospitals. 

People who have been tested positive are always informed by telephone. You can check the result of the test on the Patient Portal 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. The masks are intended for healthcare professionals and the sick, while the rest need to adhere to hygiene rules and avoid crowded places in order to prevent infection.
You can find more information on coronavirus at https://www.terviseamet.ee/et/uuskoroonaviirus.

What to do if I live in close proximity of a person suspected of COVID-19 infection?

Behave as usual and follow the precaution for infectious diseases. The latest information on the risk assessment of coronary virus can be found on the website of the Estonian Health Board.

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 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.

Where can you get information about virus stataistics and the breakdown by municipality? 

The Estonian Health Board publishes the statistics of patients on its website www.terviseamet.ee once a day.

What are the recommendations for employers regarding employers 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 or after returning from the at-risk area. A certificate of incapacity to work should be issued at the doctors´ discretion. Once sick-leave has been issued, the employer (from day 4) or the Health Insurance Fund (from day 9) will pay out the incapacity benefit. On the basis of the certificate of care leave, the Health Insurance Fund pays the benefit as of the first day of absence.

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 submits the documents to the Health Insurance Fund.

If a person insured by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund needs unexpected medical care in the European Union, they will receive the care on equal terms with the insured persons living in that country when submitting the European Health Insurance Card. Health Insurance Fund shall also compensate for the costs incurred in the European Union based on the  medical bills submitted for hospital treatment or doctors´ visit in accordance with the usual procedure. In order to compensate for health care expenses incurred outside the European Union, a person must contact their travel insurance provider.

If a person comes from at-risk area and is uncertain about their health condition but has no disease symptoms nor has had any contact with the infected persons, then they should contact their employer and, if agreed, stay at home or work remotely.

If a person arrived in Estonia on March 17, can he, for instance, go walking on a recreational track during his isolation period?

A person who is in isolation cannot come into contact with other people, so he should not go walking on a heavily populated recreational track.

If a person arrived in Estonia on March 17, 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.

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 allowed to reintegrate into society after the symptoms have passed?

A person is infectious up to 14 days after the symptoms appear. The family doctor decides whether a person has recovered.

A person came back from a trip, is quarantined, her employer does not allow to work from home, the family doctor refuses to open a period of sick leave when there are no symptoms. What should she 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.

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.

A person came back from a trip before restrictions were set. There are no symptoms. He opened a period of sick leave himself in the patient portal as his employer did not allow him back to work. But the doctor contacted him and found that a certificate of sick leave was not justified. However, the doctor claimed that she cannot close the period of sick leave herself. Can a doctor annul a period of sick leave?

Yes, a doctor can close the period of sick leave.

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.

Are companies in the transport sector (airports, ports, bus companies, etc.) informed of what measures should be taken if a person suspected of being infected with COVID-19 is on board?

Yes, the Estonian Health Board has provided information to airports, ports and road transport companies, and has information regarding the necessary measures if a person suspected of being infected with COVID-19 is found on board.

How did the coronavirus outbreak start?

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is most likely of animal origin but studies are still ongoing to confirm the source and transmission methods.

Can I order packages from the at-risk area or is there a danger of infection?

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 does not spread with goods coming from the at-risk area, so packages ordered online can be accepted and opened without fear of infection.

I have no health insurance, do I need to pay for my treatment if I am infected with COVID-19?

Emergency care is provided by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund for patients without health insurance for any treatments and also for COVID-19, and the treatment must take place in the hospital.

Basic needs, documents, services

Is the sufficient food supply in Estonia guaranteed?  Will the food run out at stores?

Yes, food supply in stores is guaranteed. Food stores will remain open. The State will provide additional food supplies for the country, as needed. Persons responsible for food supply storage have confirmed to the Ministry of Rural Affairs that the agreed stock is guaranteed. In general, the stores have a back-up inventory for at least a month. If any category of food runs out, it is only temporary, and shelves will be restocked within few days.

Consultations have been initiated with various food security of supply associations, deliveries will not be interrupted. At the moment, no food producer or food processor has stopped their activities, so food security of supply is guaranteed and food production ensures self-sufficiency.

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.

General recommendations:

  • 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).


Read more https://kriis.ee/en/preparing-for-crisis-situations/preparing-for-crisis...

How is the dispensation of medicinal products by pharmacies regulated during the emergency situation? Are there any restrictions?

The Minister of Social Affairs has decided to temporarily reduce prescription and sales volumes in order to ensure the availability of medicinal products. As from today, a healthcare professional can prescribe medicines for chronic conditions for up to two months. In the case of a repeat prescription, a pharmacy may dispense a medicinal product only on the basis of a single prescription and for a maximum period of two months. A single purchaser can buy two packs of over-the-counter medicine per medicinal product.
These restrictions are due to the fact that, according to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, prescription of medicines has increased on average by 40% in recent weeks compared to the same period last year and sales of medicines in pharmacies have increased by almost 50%.

The Health Board estimates that an increase in demand for medicinal products, combined with other restrictions imposed by international emergency situations, may lead to a reduction in the availability of medicinal products. Although the Health Board has so far not been notified of difficulties in the supply of medicines required to alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19, these cannot be excluded as the situation changes. Therefore, prescribing and dispensing volumes have been reduced in order to prevent bulk buying of medicinal products.

The following changes entered into force on 19 March:

  • A healthcare professional is allowed to prescribe medicinal products for up to two months;
  • A pharmacy may dispense a medicinal product only on the basis of a single repeat prescription and for a maximum period of two months;
  • When dispensing a medicinal product from a pharmacy, account should be taken of the quantities of the medicinal product previously purchased and the current medicinal product should be dispensed only if the medicinal product already acquired is not enough for the next two months of treatment in the case of continuous treatment or until the end of treatment in the case of a fixed duration of treatment;
  • In exceptional cases, a medicinal product may be dispensed from a pharmacy if the life or health of a person would be endangered if the medicinal product were not dispensed. The dispenser must document the reason for dispensing the medicinal product;
  • Up to two packs of over-the-counter medicine per medicinal product may be dispensed to a single purchaser.
A number of pharmaceutical organisations, as well as representatives of pharmaceutical companies, wholesalers, pharmacies and doctors, have proposed restrictions on prescribing and dispensing of medicinal products by pharmacies. In order to support the implementation of the established restrictions, technical solutions facilitating and ensuring the execution of the arrangements will be created in the digital prescription system.

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. As of Monday, 23 March, commercial banks have pledged to increase 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.

Can I apply for documents on an expedited basis?

The closure of service offices also means that applying for documents on an expedited basis has been brought to a halt. However, it is possible for you to receive your documents if your application has already been submitted. The PBGB will contact the people whose documents are ready to be issued and arrange for the issuance. The Police and Border Guard Board will provide information on an ongoing basis when it is possible to apply for documents on an expedited basis again.

How can I receive my documents applied for on an expedited basis?

The Police and Border Guard Board will be in direct contact with the people whose documents are ready to be issued and arrange the issuance of the documents.

How can I apply for a passport and an ID card?

You can apply for documents using the self service portal at http://iseteenindus.politsei.ee

Can I get married? What are the special conditions?

If a marriage registration has been booked at the family registry, please contact the registry in advance and look into the restrictions imposed. Only marrying couples are likely to have access to the local government premises for security reasons. Wedding parties must be postponed. COVID-19 is a very easy-to-spread virus.

Can a funeral be arranged? What are the special conditions?

A funeral may be organized, but it is important to keep the circle of attending family and friends as small as possible. In addition, we recommend that you avoid indoor and carry out the funeral ceremony at the cemetery. Foreigners can apply for an exception to enter Estonia for a funeral. A visa can be applied for in Estonian embassies and consulates abroad.

Education and learning

The Government of Estonia decided to close all educational institutions, except kindergartens starting from 16 March, and will apply only digital learning solutions. This page provides guidelines for educational institutions, students and parents.

If you have further questions, please contact info[at]hm[dot]ee or call 56 900 340 or 56 900 353.

If you have questions about using E-koolikott, Opiq and Foxcademy, please contact:

The most up-to-date information on COVID-19 coronavirus is available on the Health Board website.

The Government of Estonia: due to the risk of infection, schools will be moved to distance learning 

The Government of Estonia decided to close all educational institutions, except kindergartens, and will apply only digital learning solutions from Monday, 16 March due to the spread of the coronavirus in Estonia.  The situation will be reassessed every 14 days and, if necessary, a decision will be taken on the need to extend the distance learning period.

From Monday, 16 March, the buildings of all general education institutions, vocational education and training institutions, higher education institutions, youth centres and hobby schools shall be closed. On Friday, 13 March, teachers, together with students, will decide on further activities and tasks, and students will be able to take home all necessary learning tools and materials needed for distance learning.

Kindergartens will initially remain open, and, if necessary, the closure of kindergartens will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Nevertheless, all parents who are able to leave the children at home are encourage to do so. Schools for students with special educational needs will remain open. Their closure will be decided on a case-by-case basis in cooperation with schools and school managers.

The Ministry of Education and Research draws the attention to the fact that during the period of distance learning no hobby schools’ activities or sports trainings can take place. Students are encouraged to take a break from hobby schools activities and stay at home. Parents must ensure that children comply with the ban on non-domestic activities.
Municipalities and schools are encouraged to forward the information to all partners involved in the extracurricular activities of students.
The Ministry of Education and Research will provide further information regularly, including on instructional matters.

Similar news:

Recommendations for PARENTS to support the learning process of their child

  1. Try to stay calm and keep your stress levels as low as possible. Your stress affects the child. Stress is one of the biggest enemies of effective learning.
  2. Ask the child (if necessary offer help) to set daily learning goals – what do they plan to do this day, what help and support they might need doing it. Written goals help your child to keep his or her learning process on track.
  3. Explain to your child why learning goals and rules are particularly important at this time (the situation is new, effective learning requires certain conditions). Discuss which way of learning could best support the child in his or her own experience and, if necessary, provide extras (such as a quiet space, taking notes, discussing with a partner or parent, speaking out loud, etc.). If necessary, ask the teacher for help.
  4. Communicate with your child rather more than less. Ask questions about the effectiveness of the learning process, specific learning methods and the most useful ways for him / her to study. You can help the child by asking him / her to describe what he / she has done, why he / she did it, and how he / she evaluates the outcome.
  5. Encourage the child to think about what they have learned and have them share what they have learned or ask them to write down their new knowledge. This is always a good way to consolidate what has been learnt and could be useful for independent learning in the future as well.
  6. Student in 7th grade and further should maintain autonomy in deciding the best ways to study in order to keep the motivation up. If the school's work organization allows so, let it be up to him / her to choose the time and ways in which to do the tasks given.
  7. Remind the child working hard on an exercise is essential and a normal part of learning process. When evaluating the acquired knowledge it is not how quickly things are done that matters, but whether the content is understood, memorized and can be used in the future.
  8. In order to maintain interest in learning, support the child by asking questions rather than providing ready answers. In doing so, encourage the child and avoid negative feedback during the learning process.
  9. Acknowledge the child not so much for the result but for the effort. In this way, you support his self-confidence.
  10. One of the most effective ways to learn is to teach others. Ask your child to teach you one new thing every day and applaud him / her for it.

Further reading can be found in the material compiled by the Education Institute of the University of Tartu.

Recommendations for teachers

The Ministry of Education and Research advises teachers to refrain from numerical assessment during distance learning for at least the first two weeks. The focus should not be so much on the numerical assessment of children's learning outcomes as on the organization of learning and coping with the new situation. Instead of numerical assessment, verbal formative assessment is a more appropriate way in the current situation to engage and motivate students.

Suggestions for teachers to organize the learning process:

  • Take the time to think and try, based on feedback from children and parents, which solutions work best, what time frame to assign, what are the best-performing channels and tools to support and evaluate learning. 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.
  • Map the e-learning environments and e-tools you use for distance learning in your school. Try to use as few different tools and environments as possible in order to make the most of the time spent on learning. If necessary, help the children create a system for orientating in different environments (where to find assignments and deadlines). Be it an electronic spreadsheet, post-it boards, check-list or the like. In addition to more structured learning activities, the child gains valuable experience in building the system and develops useful life skills.
  • Agree with the parents on specific communication channels and a specific time frame (eg. 16-17) for possibility to contact the teacher. Try to find the best time for this, given your parents' opportunities, but don't forget that you also need a vacation and a personal time. Teachers do not need to be available 24 hours a day!
  • Try to stay calm, if the children and parents fail to comply with the rules and deadlines at first. Developing independent work habits takes time, but it will pay off in the future (even after the crisis).
  • Give deadlines for submission of learning assignments that are rather longer (eg. not 2 pm, but 8 pm in the evening). This is especially important for younger children who need parental help in their studies. For younger students, organizing a weekly cycle of teaching may also be considered, giving the following week's assignments at the end of the previous week so that the children can prepare for school with their parents.
  • Try assigning tasks so that parents could get to know them before students start studying and parents need to go to work. This allows them to better support their child while away if needed. Try to organize your work so that you can post assignments every night / couple of times a week at the same time. The more secure the routine you can provide, the smoother the collaboration with students and parents.
  • Provide children with the opportunity to perform tests without evaluation before and after the assignment. It allows them to recall what they have learned, to learn more thorougly, and to test what they have learned.
  • There is certainly a difference between students and their learning habits, as well as their ability to work independently and their parents' ability to support their children. If possible, assign learning tasks with the average student in mind, but also consider ways in which the more capable ones can perform additional tasks and the ones less could perform tasks that are feasible for themselves without losing their learning motivation. Provide assignments with a variety of helpful material to help them find the right solutions.
  • Remind children and parents consistently that learning requires effort - the success of learning is not measured by the speed of the tasks, but by the understanding of the learning. If learning something seems difficult, that does not mean that the child is poorly qualified and that the subject is not his strong suit. Praise the children for their effort, not the result!
  • Direct the children to set learning goals for the day (what you plan to do, what help or support you need) to help them keep their learning process on track. Encourage them to summarize their learning in the evening and evaluate their efforts. Take advantage of this opportunity to guide children to become more masterful in learning and self-management.
  • Distance learning is not just about using digital tools and e-learning. Digital tools are a there to help with communicating information, maintaining relationships, occasionally carrying out different learning tasks, and holding joint discussions. It is important to strike a balance between on-screen and off-screen learning. Think through how it is wise to approach the organization of teaching process, taking into account the differences between families for organizing the studying process of their children by computers and smartphones.
  • Find out what learning strategies children are using and discovering in the new situation. Direct the children to exchange experiences. Fellow students can be very helpful in finding new ways to learn.
  • 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.
  • As distance learning continues, the gap in social interaction between children is increasing day by day. Whenever possible, especially in younger classes, create a central opportunity for children to interact with each other virtually. Consider, for example, meeting once a week in video chat, not to learn, but to allow the children and the teacher to see and interact with each other.

Both the teachers and families have heavier workload than usual. Try to be mutually considerate and tolerant. The situation is inevitable and new for everyone.

Recommendations for heads of schools

  • Support teachers and coordinate activities to find the best solution!
  • Map the e-learning environments and tools used in your school.
  • Try to use as few different environments and tools as possible.

How long will the educational institutions stay closed?

All educational institutions, except pre-school institutions, have been closed for studies since 16 March for at least two weeks. The learning is organized from distance during this time. The need to extend the period of distance learning shall be decided after every two weeks based on developments in the situation.

This arrangement is valid until the situation changes.

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.

Do teachers have to work from home?

Whenever possible, we ask the head of school, in cooperation with the school manager, to arrange studies so that the teachers can work from home as well. The goal is to prevent people from gathering. If necessary, teachers may work in the school building in their classrooms, as long as large gatherings are avoided and a circle of contacts can be identified at any time.

Keep in mind that teachers who have symptoms, have been abroad, or have been in contact with a potentially infected person must remain at home.

Furthermore, meetings and seminars must not be organized and / or made compulsory for teachers to attend in person.

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.

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 for 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.

Are there any guidelines for distance learning for both the educational institutions and parents?

Initial guidelines for organizing distance learning have been provided to schools. The school shall send clear instructions to students and parents on how the distance learning will be organized in their school, as well as the contacts from where the parent can get more information. During the time of distance learning, parents can support their child in the same way as with regular homework. The teacher has the competence to provide learning tasks and guidance for their execution.

E-learning opportunities

Digital learning materials and tools, which can be selected based on students' needs and capabilities, are helpful in the flexible organization of studies. The study materials may be in paper form, but should be available for solving and evaluating in some digital environment (for example Stuudium, e-School, padlet, Google Docs etc.).

  • Parents and teachers can find help for solving problems that occur with e-learning on HITSA website.
  • On 10 March and 15 March, HITSA organized webinars on organizing home-based learning with the help of technology. Please find them here (10 March) and here (15 March).
  • A public Facebook group “Home-Based teaching through technology” has been set up to support teachers. All teachers are welcome to join the group to seek advice from educational technologists if needed.

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: e-koolikott[at]hitsa[dot]ee, 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: info[at]starcloud[dot]ee, 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: info[at]foxcademy[dot]com, 56 478 884

Will the details of distance learning be organized by each school?

When organizing distance learning, we recommend following the centrally agreed bases of the school. Practice may vary from school to school.

Educational technologists give advice on how to organize e-learning. Additional information: https://www.hitsa.ee/e-ope-korduma-kippuvad-kusimused.

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 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.

If I come from Saaremaa to the mainland will I have to stay for two weeks in isolation on the mainland?

No, not if you have not had any contact with the coronavirus. If you have any symptoms of illness, whether COVID-19, the flu, a cold, a stomach bug or whatever, then you must remain at home and look after yourself, wherever you have been.

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? Where can I get assurance that they will be allowed to cross when they reach the harbour?

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: ppa[at]politsei[dot]ee. 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.

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.

Is the school allowed to organize excursions during distance learning?

Excursions and other gatherings are not allowed during the distance learning period.

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.

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.

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.

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 pre-school children go outside?

Yes. However, contacts should preferably be limited to children in one 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

What to do if a kindergarten has been closed and there is nowhere to send the children, the family doctor will not issue a certificate of sick leave in order to stay home with the children and the employer refuses to grant leave, except for unpaid leave? But the person cannot afford this.

Child care has to be guaranteed by the local municipality.

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

Do I have to pay for a hobby / workout if they are cancelled?

Under section 21 (3) of the Hobby School Act, one of the components of the hobby school budget is the provision of paid services. Since the hobby school cannot provide the service during this period, there is no reason to charge a fee. A reasonable compromise would be for example enabling prepaid services to be paid back, prolonging certain benefits over a longer period of time etc.

Can a private hobby school organize classes when there are very few students?

Hobby education has been discontinued since 16 March, which means that private hobby school studies must also be organized as distance learning. This means there is a clear restriction on any contact learning. We recommend that you develop a more detailed compromise with your school family and students.

Can a trainer exercise with the kids outdoors?

Since 16 March, it is not allowed to exercise either indoors or outdoors. Students can train independently, for example with the help of electronic guidance.

Can I continue my work-based learning / internship?

Each situation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but as a general principle:
  1. Avoid situations or meetings that are not strictly necessary and where virus transmission may occur. Therefore, it is advisable not to organize teaching even in small groups.
  2. Apprenticeships or work-based learning for students may be continued or started if all parties involved (student and in case of a minor the parent, employer) agree.
  3. It is recommended that students living in dormitories be sent home. In the case of a student with special needs or a foreign student who, for good reasons, cannot go home, the school may take a different decision.

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.

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. The larger the planned training group size, the more seriously you should consider postponing the course.

If it is not possible to postpone the course, assess each situation individually according to the size of the group; how many learners are at risk (chronically ill, elderly) and the likelihood that the participants may have been exposed to an infected person. In this case, exclude him or her.

If necessary, take special measures such as limiting the number of participants. If a learner with obvious symptoms appears in the training, do not allow the learner to attend the training.

Make participants and staff aware of the measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Teachers and staff who feel unwell should be absent immediately. Teachers and workers in the risk group should seriously consider staying home.

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.

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.

What about level tests, final exams and entry tests?

Solutions will depend on future developments in the situation. Whenever possible, the usual arrangements shall be followed. At present, there have not been changes to the regular state exam schedule. If needed, the beginning of the examination period shall be postponed.

The Ministry of Education and Research regularly provides information and guidance to the school and the public on the situation, including anything related to further study arrangements, exams and level tests.
Organization of entry tests are a matter for the school manager and the school.

Working, work-related travel,  benefits and pensions

Additional information is available via the Unemployment Insurance Fund hotline, 6696513 or 15501, their homepage www.tootukassa.ee, and via e-mail at info[at]tootukassa[dot]ee.

Offices of the Social Insurance Board are closed, but the hotlines are accessible Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm. Social Insurance Board’s online channels and hotlines are open - hotline 6121360, e-mail address info[at]sotsiaalkindlustusamet[dot]ee.

The Child Helpline (116111) and Victim Support Helpline (116006) are both available 24/7.

Additional information from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund via 6696630.

What should my employer do, what needs to be done differently?

Workplaces must use disinfectants, employees arriving from abroad are required to stay home for two weeks and monitor their health. Both parties must agree to the change of work conditions. People working in the office should take into account that the recommended distance in the open office is no less than 1-1.5m, it is important to air the rooms regularly, clean the surfaces regularly, people who are ill, or have been in contact with the infected persons should be sent home, if possible, etc. The public sector also has a restriction that more than five people should not be present in the same room at a meeting, the same advice should be followed by the private sector.

Do I have to work from home after a working trip?

Employees who return from a work-related or holiday trip from abroad have to stay at home for two weeks. If remote work is possible, the employee should work from home after returning from abroad.

Can an employer enforce compulsory leave or unpaid holiday, so that the employee has to stay home without pay?

If the employee has returned from abroad the employer and the employee must come to an agreement on the subsequent way of working. The suggested solution is to enable the employee to work remotely from home. If this is not possible, both sides must reach an alternative agreement.

Employment law does not permit compulsory leave, but the employer and employee can agree mutually that the employee will stay at home for two weeks. If the employee is unable to work because the employer does not arrange work, the employer is required to pay the average salary according to § 35 of the employment law.

Both parties must reach a mutual agreement in the case of unpaid leave. If an agreement is reached, the employee may be placed on unpaid leave. If the employee does not agree to unpaid leave, while the employer does not permit the employee to enter the premises, § 35 of the Employment Act applies.

Employer and employee can agree on a change of the conditions of the work contract. For example they can agree that while the employee is at home and doesn’t work he will be paid a lower salary than agreed in the work contract. However, the employer can’t do it unilaterally, but only in agreement with the employee.

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 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.

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 70% state support? Is that done together with the employer?

It is definitely important to find the optimal solution together with your employer. When it comes to various support mechanisms and how to use them, this information will come after more detailed decisions are made by the government and the Unemployment Insurance Board can also provide information. 

Will beauty parlours and massage salons have to close? If I work in one, should I continue going to work there?

No decision has been taken to close beauty parlours and massage salons. Every responsible service provider must assess their own risks and decide whether they are able to continue to operate. We recommend that you discuss it with your employer, and if you are ill then certainly you must not go to work.

Can I refuse a secondment or a business trip to another country?

The employee is also obliged to assess work-related risks during work-related trips abroad. Therefore, the employer must assess the risk, and decide if it is possible to avoid the trip.

The employee has the right to refuse or stop work that would put his own or other peoples’ health at risk, would not allow the following of Environmental Safety regulations according to § 14 point 5 of the Health and Safety at Work Law, and in this case must inform the employer or his representative and the work safety representative immediately. If the employee finds that by travelling abroad he would put his life or health at risk, he has the right to refuse to undertake the trip.

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.

Are the offices of the Unemployment Insurance Fund open? Which services are cancelled?

Due to the Emergency Situation declared by the government, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund will not, as of March 16th, 2020, be serving and counselling customers in person in any of our offices for at least two weeks. Customers will be served and all applications will be accepted via telephone, online channels (Skype, e-töötukassa, e-mail) or regular mail. If you need help with any services, it will be provided via mail or telephone. The following services have been stopped:

  • All courses, except for the ones that are individual or taking place online
  • Careers services for groups (group counselling, workshops)
  • Work clubs
  • Work rehabilitation, unless you and your rehabilitation team have agreed on counselling via telephone or by means of an audio or video conference;
  • First- and second-stage group activities for protected employment, taking place at your service provider’s location;
  • Work practice.

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.

Can I receive a sick leave certificate even though I am not sick myself?

A quarantine has not been declared in Estonia. Therefore, sick leave certificates for quarantine reasons cannot be issued. Certificates are also not issued for people returning from abroad and who are healthy. It is suggested that those people keep an eye on their health and if possible, work from home and implement social distancing.

If a person has come into direct contact with the virus, a doctor can issue the same sick leave certificate as for an infected person. The same applies for the parent of a child who has come into direct contact with the virus. In these cases, the person receives the Incapacity to Work Benefit as usual.

Sick leave certificates can only be issued for people who are provided with health insurance by their employer, in other words, those who are working.

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 am not able to get a job, am I eligible for the Incapacity to Work Benefit?

A person without health insurance is not eligible for a sick leave certificate nor the Incapacity to Work Benefit, because those are only intended for working people.

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: info[at]sotsiaalkindlustusamet[dot]ee.
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.

Cultural institutions and events, sports

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. Unless otherwise decided, the Ministry of Culture will continue to operate as usual.

Do the restrictions also apply to private cultural operators and private museums?

Yes, restrictions apply to everybody, including those renting premises for cultural events.

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. Restrictions do not apply to catering establishments like restaurants and cafes.

Are events, such as theatrical performances and concerts, canceled or is there a chance that the events will be postponed?

Each organizer will decide at their own discretion and according to their possibilities. Changes in schedules or programs shall be or have already been communicated by the institutions themselves.

What will happen to tickets already bought?

The cultural institutions can offer refund, tickets to future events or gift cards. If these options don’t suit the client, he is entitled for a refund. As the number of cancelled events is very high patience is recommended with the arrangements.

Does the state compensate to the organizers and institutions the losses caused by the cancellation of events?

The government is looking for ways of compensation for the loss of revenue to the institutions and organisations. Efforts are being made to establish a mechanism and reserves as uniform as possible to ensure the budget balance of the organizations. The Ministry of Culture will map initial options by the beginning of the next week (week number 12, starting from March 16).

Will events, for example, plays and concerts definitely be cancelled, or is it possibile 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.

Does the State offer compensation to businesses and event organisers for the losses caused by cancelled events.

Companies and organisations that have suffered losses due to the crisis, regardless of their field of activities, may receive assistance from the wage subsidies measure of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The government plans to compensate partially for direct costs and loss of revenues for cancelled cultural and sports events, and suspended activities of cultural and sports organisations due to the emergency.   In this measure, the main focus is on state institutions, state-owned foundations, public-law foundations and persons receiving support from the state budget through the Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Foundation. The initial volume of the measure is 3 million euros and its precise criteria are developed by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation in co-operation with the Ministry of Finance.

Are decisions on compensation made by the Ministry of Culture?

The culture budget is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture, which cooperates with the Ministry of Finance. Contribution of the management and supervisory boards of the institutions to identify potential shortages or needs is important.

Can private cultural operators count on state support if the event is canceled or tickets are returned?

If the canceled or postponed event has received support from the state budget, please immediately inform the Ministry of Culture. Issues related to a canceleds or postponed event and state support will be resolved on a case-by-case basis. Grants will not be reclaimed all over the board.

Will the language courses in Estonian language houses continue?

Courses in Estonian language houses in Tallinn and Narva are suspended. Information is provided by the administrations of the Estonian language houses and the Integration Foundation (INSA).

What does it mean that libraries are open with restrictions?

The services provided by libraries are very diverse, so it is possible that some libraries will be able to provide their services at least to some extent. Information on the situation is provided by the local authorities. The Ministry of Culture's general recommendation is that services without direct, continuous person-to-person contact may remain open. When serving visitors, even to a limited extent, it is essential to follow the instructions of the Health Board. Certainly there will be no gatherings or events in the libraries. If needed and possible, internal work in the library may continue, such as inventories, answering queries, obtaining books and registering books. As it is not advisable for the elderly to go to the library at the moment, the provision of contactless home service should rather temporarily be expanded, if really unavoidable. When cleaning returned items, we urge everybody to follow the Health Board's recommendations for cleaning and disinfection.

Are art galleries also closed?

It is forbidden to visit museums and other exhibition facilities because public gatherings are not allowed.

What kinds of open air activities are allowed at outdoor sports facilities?

There are no restrictions on open air sports facilities at this point and, like the health and nature trails, they are allowed. At the same time, it is important that the owners of these places do all they can to follow all the recommendations of the Health Board. Also, the manager of this kind of open air sports facility has to ensure that the activities carried out there are not against the restrictions already in place.

If the open air sports facility is a paid one, it is important to make sure that making the payments is resolved in a way that is not against the restrictions in place (indoors spaces have to remain closed and no additional services should be offered, etc.). Also, you have to keep in mind that all public gatherings are prohibited and sports competitions as well. This means that also in open air sports facilities (or anywhere else in open air) centrally coordinated and organised (for example, by a sports club or trainer) training sessions or other group activities are not allowed.

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.

Are sports facilities open? Can I go there to exercise?

As of March 14, gyms, sports clubs, spas, swimming pools, aquaparks, day centers and children's playrooms had to be closed. Gyms, swimming pools, saunas and spas must also be closed at hotels and all other accommodation providers. The restriction does not apply to the provision of social and health services, including treatment and rehabilitation services.

Parks and nature trails are open. Outdoor events or joint training are prohibited.

Can a trainer exercise with the kids outdoors?

Starting March 16, it is not allowed to organize joint training either indoors or outdoors. Students can study independently with distance learning or with the help of online materials.

Is it possible to organize sports competitions, including mass participation sporting events?

Sports and exercise events are prohibited until May 1st.

Sports facilities and clubs are closed. What happens to my membership contracts and fees?

The client can inform the sports club that he will not pay the membership/usage fee for the time when the club is closed. The client can also terminate the contract. If agreed by both sides the contract can be extended after the restrictions of movement by the period of closure.

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.

Can sweat transmit the Covid-19 Virus? Can I get an infection from gym or sports equipment?

Opinion of the Sports Medicine Foundation (NB! This is not a government agency): According to the International Olympic Committee's medical panel, sweat alone is virus-free, but an infected person's sweat is most likely contaminated with the virus due to sneezing, coughing, and rubbing the nose with hands. Thus, it is highly likely that the sweat of an infected person on sports and gym equipment is contaminated with the virus, since the virus is in their respiratory system and in this context, the infection can also be transmitted through sweat. Exercising outdoors is recommended.

The event has been cancelled due to Coronavirus. What happens to the ticket money?

The organizer can offer alternative dates or gift cards in addition to a refund. If these options are not acceptable for the client, he is entitled to a refund. As the number of cancelled events is very high, patience is asked for with the arrangements.

I want to cancel a playroom booking due to Coronavirus. What about the prepayment?

The customer is entitled to a refund of the booking fee. If agreed by both sides a booking can be rearranged for 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 can’t go to their hobby school, but I already paid for it. Do I have the right to pay less now? 

It depends on the terms of your contract. For example, if you have agreed that during the contract period the service provider must carry out a certain number of training courses or lessons, but the exact dates are left to be decided on a running basis, then the solution may be that the service provider will just make up the courses/lessons after the situation returns to normal.
However, if your agreement states that each month there should be a certain number of courses/lessons, then the March courses/lessons can be postponed or the fee reduced according to the number of courses/lessons that are cancelled.

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 merchant refuse to return the sum paid for a gift card, if the consumer had the opportunity to use the gift card in the company’s web shop, but not at the cinema (on the example of Apollo – the web shop and bookstores are open, but the cinema is closed)?

The consumer does not have the right to back out of the contract and get back the gift card payment if the merchant offers an alternative use for the gift card. If the consumer can’t use the gift card at the cinema, but can use it in the same merchant’s web shop, then the consumer does not have the right to withdraw from the contract. 

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. 

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. 

Economy and business

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 will the state help companies cope with the crisis?

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has mapped out jointly with businesses the most problematic points in the Estonian economy and has come up with proposals for measures to alleviate the problems. There are several options, such as tax holidays, accelerated investment, easier terms for unemployment insurance, state credit guarantees and so forth. An example is that money has been hurried into the reconstruction of apartment buildings to maintain employment in the construction sector. The government will decide on specific measures and amounts in the near future.

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 can they help companies that are in trouble?

It is also in the interest of the banks that we exit these difficult times as painlessly as possible. We have spoken with the banks and so far they have agreed to make efforts for their clients.

What will the state do if companies are not able to pay wages to their staff?

If a company is not able to pay wages to its employees, then the state can step in to help. This should be done on a sector-by-sector basis and targeted at those companies where problems have resulted from the state of emergency caused by the coronavirus. The state aims to maintain the incomes of people working in those sectors. This is part of a short-term assistance package that has been drawn up following discussions between Töötukassa and the government. It is probable that the first assistance package will be made available to businesses during this week.

It is said that the state is planning to support businesses with short and long-term assistance packages. What exactly will these be and when will they become available?

There have indeed been discussions today about short and long-term measures that can be taken. The exact scope of the measures will be decided by the government of the Republic.

The short-term assistance package is in response to the market shock that has happened, which has caused a sharp drop in the turnover of companies, and the priority is to avoid redundancies. The assistance being prepared jointly by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Finance and the Social Ministry will focus on keeping the costs of companies that have fallen into difficulty under control in the short term, and on labour and liquidity problems. The support measures planned by the state are being drawn up together with the KredEx Fund, Töötukassa and the Tax and Customs Board. It is planned to increase the capacity of KredEx to work together with the banks for example, to help companies out and resolve liquidity problems. The government will probably pass the first assistance package during this week.

The long-term assistance package will be designed to encourage a rapid recovery from the current market shock. It is planned that it will be rolled out once the short-term package has been made available to businesses.

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.

Guidelines for shops, shopping centres and food service institutions

How do we prevent the spread of COVID-19?

  • Avoid physical contact when handing over till receipts and cash.
  • Reorganise your self-service points for ready-made food, and if possible pack open-display food at the counter in front of the client.
  • Serve cooked food such as bakery goods, ham and sausage, sweets, biscuits, nuts or salad already packaged, and package them in a separate room that is two metres away from where clients are passing. Make sure that single-use packaging such as coffee cups is not freely available to clients.
  • Follow the usual rules for food handling.
  • Make sure that all staff handling food have had sufficient training in food hygiene.
  • Do not offer any food tasting or other product presentations.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces that come into contact with food, including sales points, more frequently than usual.
  • Make sure that everybody else providing services on site, such as those installing or repairing equipment, is able to wash their hands and disinfect immediately.
  • Follow the usual rules for cleaning and ventilation.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning products. Draw up cleaning schedules for different cleaning products with listed frequencies for different surfaces.
  • Keep all waste that may have come in contact with the virus, such as personal protection equipment, separately from other waste in a closed bag, and treated as ordinary waste after 72 hours.

How do we prevent the spread of COVID-19 in shops and shopping centres?

  • 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 one metre from each other, including in queues for the tills, and to touch things as little as possible in shops.
  • Do not offer testers for any products, such as cosmetics.
  • 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 one metre apart from each other and from the client service staff.

 

How do we prevent the spread of COVID-19 in food service companies?

  • Arrange your tables so that the seats are at least one metre 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.
  • Recommend to your clients that they keep at least a metre apart 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 can I protect my employees from infection?

  • Monitor the health of your staff. Send home any staff who have the symptoms listed earlier and give them instructions on self-isolating for 14 days.
  • Any member of staff who has come into contact with somebody who is ill must monitor their own health, and if symptoms appear they should remain at home for 14 days and follow the instructions for isolation.
  • Keep a minimum of one metre distance from all clients.
  • Allow your staff 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 if possible. Hands that are visibly dirty must certainly be washed.
  • Recommend that staff who come into contact with clients should 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, pull them from the wrists with the fingers of the other glove so that the gloves turn inside out and the side that has been used is on the inside. Please note that single-use gloves should not be washed or disinfected and should be removed on leaving the till and put straight away into a closed bag.
  • When using masks, follow the manufacturer’s instructions as far as possible.
  • Working clothes, including textile gloves, should be washed after every shift, at the highest temperature allowed by the material. Working shoes should also be cleaned after every shift.
  • Minimise client contact for those members of staff who are in risk groups, particularly older employees or those with chronic illnesses or immune system deficiencies.
  • If possible run your work in one shift, or arrange the shift changeovers so that staff in different shifts do not meet each other.

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.

Travelling, public transport, border-crossing

How should I get around? Is it safe to use public transport?

If at all possible, try to stay at home and avoid public transport. If for any reason you must travel, choose the method of transportation where you will come into contact with as few people as possible. The easiest way to control your environment and who is in it is to move on foot or by bicycle, if the weather allows it.

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. When choosing a seat, try to sit as far away from others as you can. The goal is to minimise the spread of potential germs. You might not be infected with the coronavirus, to the best of your knowledge, but there is no sense in risking other people’s health.

Avoid touching your face and disinfect your hands as soon as you can after using public transport.

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.

How can I get to a doctor?

Before going to the doctor consider if your visit can be postponed to a later date. In the event of 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 medication make sure they ask for the medicine’s bag or packaging to be disinfected. Arrange for the medication to be left in your postbox or on your doorstep, to minimise any contact with germs.

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.

You might not be infected with the coronavirus, to the best of your knowledge, but there is no sense in risking other people’s health.
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.

Will there be less public transport available?

As there are fewer people moving about it is highly probable that the amount of public transport provided will also be reduced. Transportation will still be provided, but the frequency will decrease.

If there are fewer passengers, will the bus line be shut down? How can I get around if the bus is my only mode of transport?

If, due to the Emergency Situation, the number of passengers is severely decreased and continuing to provide the service would be economically detrimental then the provider can ask the Road Administration to change the schedule to less regular one. 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.

In Tallinn it is forbidden to enter through the front door of the bus, tram or trolley, and you cannot buy tickets. Why is this not the case across the rest of the country?

To safeguard the health of the driver of a commercial county bus line with a high turnover, it is important for passengers to enter the bus using the central or rear door of the bus. It is also not necessary to validate tickets. In counties where buses normally sell tickets the practice has been put on hold.

What are the commercial lines doing?

Temporary conditions have been put in place, changing how/if people should buy tickets, and how they should enter the bus. The commercial lines have received their instructions from the government—for more detailed information please contact the service provider.

How will the train schedule be affected?

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.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications will decide on the need to revise the passenger train schedules as the situation develops. Information about timetables and changes can be found on the passenger train company Elron's website elron.ee and free travel information is also provided by the 24-hour hotline 616 0245.

How should I behave on the train?

Whenever possible, avoid using public transport and try to stay at home. If you must leave your home, try to choose methods of transport with the least amount of human contact. The best way to control your surroundings is travelling by foot or by bicycle, if the weather permits it.

If you must use public transport for your commute, be extra vigilant that you don’t sneeze or cough on other passengers. Try to avoid touching railings and surfaces with your bare hands. When choosing your seat, try to sit as far away from other people as possible. The objective is to minimize the potential spread of germs. Even if you do not think you have contracted coronavirus, there is no need to risk the health of other passengers.

Avoid touching your face and try to disinfect your hands as soon as possible after using public transport.

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 conductors regularly disinfect their hands to avoid transferring any dangerous germs.

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.

Is Tallinn-St. Petersburg – Moscow train running?

No, 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: traveld[at]gorail[dot]ee, www.gorail.ee.

Movement between the islands and the main land

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 products 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 by 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.
 

How to prove residency on the island without registration? To whom and on the basis of what does it need to be proven?

Police officials are checking movement to the islands according to the population register. If a person uses several residences for living, he or she should 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

Is it possible to go backwards and forwards to the mainland to work?

No. Only those working in critical industries may travel to work.

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: ppa[at]politsei[dot]ee. 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?

Yes. 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?

No.

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. 

When travelling from Saaremaa Island to mainland Estonia, is it necessary to self-isolate for 2 weeks?

No, not if you have not had any contact with the coronavirus. If you have any symptoms of illness, whether COVID-19, the flu, a cold, a stomach bug or whatever, then you must remain at home and look after yourself, wherever you have been.

If a person has two homes, one on the island and the other on the mainland, is it possible to go to the island and stay there?

Yes.

If somebody has two homes, one on the mainland and one on an island, say in Tallinn and Saaremaa, then it will not be possible to change the register quickly, because it needs confirmation from the local authority. They would also have to go to their home on the island. In what cases is it actually possible to get to the island, and what are the restrictions?

Police officers are controlling movement to the island by using data from the population register. 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 a special permit, you should submit an application to the PPA at the following e-mail address: ppa[at]politsei[dot]ee. 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.

Our family lives in Tallinn, but one member of the family is registered as living on the island. Are the other members of the family allowed to go with them to the other home, or is that not permitted?

Police officers are controlling movement to the island by using data from the population register. The requirement applies to all family members, as the point of the movement restrictions is to stop the spread of the virus. 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.

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.

How are the restrictions to entry into the islands checked when using personal watercraft and small ports that have no ferry connections and permanent police checks?

Within Estonian maritime borders, the Maritime Rescue Centre of the Police and Border Guard Board is following the movements of watercraft. They have the right to get information from a craft on its movement and target. If the watercraft does not have a radio transmitter and the Maritime Rescue Centre cannot contact it, the Maritime Rescue Centre can send a police patrol to meet the craft at its target port and 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) is 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. With all this we are also counting on people’s understanding and cooperation.

Who is subject to a restriction on freedom of movement for a period of 14 calendar days when entering Estonia from 17 March?

As of March 17, all people who do not fall under any exemptions must self-isolate.  It is possible to leave the place of residence following the orders of a health care professional or a police official, or in the event of an emergency which threatens the life or health of a person.

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.

Will I be sent back from the border if I am ill? What about if I am healthy?

Estonian citizens or residents, whether they are healthy or ill, will not be turned away at the border. Foreign nationals and foreigners whose family members reside in Estonia can also enter the country. At the border crossing points, people’s travel documents and the basis for entry are checked and a visual assessment of the status of their health is carried out. Everybody entering Estonia will need to remain at home or at their place of stay for 14 days. 

When will the restrictions take effect? How long will they apply?

Restrictions at the state border will apply from 17 March. The restriction shall remain in force until it is amended. The necessity of the restriction shall be assessed every two weeks.

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.

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.

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.

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, drivers licence) when crossing either the external border with the Russian Federation or the internal border with other EU member states. When travelling across the external border of Estonia, passengers must also have a valid travel document (e.g passport).

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: ppa[at]politsei[dot]ee.

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 in 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 restrictions should I expect when crossing the border?

If you are entering Estonia across the internal border with Latvia or the external border with Russia you should expect the following restrictions:

When you enter Estonia you will be asked to submit data at the border point on the route of your journey, who you are travelling with, any possible contacts with people who might have been infected, and whether you have shown any symptoms of the virus in recent days. 

You should remember that those allowed into Estonia are

  • Estonian citizens and residents of Estonia with a residence permit or right of residence, including holders of grey passports, and foreign citizens and other foreigners whose family members live in Estonia. Foreigners arriving in Estonia as part of the international military cooperation will also be allowed into the country.
  • Persons without symptoms of the disease who live in Estonia and work in Latvia or vice versa. They can cross the border without the mandatory 14 calendar day period of restricted movement (more info at https://www.politsei.ee/et/juhend/eriolukord)
  • Foreigners will be allowed into the country with special permission from the police if they have no signs of illness and have close relations who are Estonian citizens or have rights of residence.
  • Transport carrying goods internationally will be allowed into the country. People providing vital services, such as fuel suppliers, will also be allowed in.
  • Foreigners can use Estonia as a transport corridor to get to their home country if they have shown no signs of being infected with COVID-19.

Anyone else trying to enter Estonia will be refused and will be turned away at the border.
The border control will examine travel documents and look for any signs of illness.
The temporary restriction on crossing the border will apply until orders change and the need for it will be assessed at least every two weeks.

While the restrictions apply, it will only be permitted to cross the internal border at designated places and through the temporary border control points. The list of official border crossing points can be found in the State Gazette at: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/115032020001

What limitations should I be prepared for via the external border (between Estonia and the Russian Federation)?

Crossing the border can take more time.

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/et/juhend/eriolukord.

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/et/kordonid-ja-piiripunktid

How long will travel restrictions last?

Currently the state of emergency will 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.

I am an Estonian citizen or resident. 

At the moment there are no limitations to travelling out of Estonia in terms of border crossings. The Estonian government strongly recommends not travelling abroad, but it is still possible. You should definitely consider whether travelling is absolutely necessary or reasonable.

Travelling for tourism is not reasonable. Stay home and don’t travel anywhere, because if you go to another country, you might end up in a quarantine zone. This would make getting home either very hard or even impossible. 

To contain the spread of the coronavirus, states may change the conditions for entering or moving within a state at very short notice.

Estonian residents are recommended to not plan vacation travel for the upcoming months. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not recommend travelling in the EU to: Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, and Norway; the third countries of the People’s Republic of China (including special administrative regions), Iran, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Egypt, USA, Israel, and India.

High risk areas on this list are the People’s Republic of China, Italy, Iran and South Korea; medium risk areas are Germany, France, the Tyrol region ski resorts in Austria, Spain, Japan and Singapore. The latest information about states’ restrictions on travel is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign affairs: https://vm.ee/en/news. However, even this information might not be updated fast enough, as other states are taking rapid decisions on this matter. Therefore, the best recommendation is still to not travel at all. 

Before going to a foreign country, we recommend that you find out about any restrictions in place in the destination country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs website may help:  https://vm.ee/en/news

Is there risk of infection when travelling by bus or airplane?

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.

What happens if I wish to travel regardless of the warnings? Who do I turn to if I get into difficulties?

We stress that if you really do decide to travel abroad, you should devise backup plans for how to avoid the risk of infection, what to do when flights are cancelled or other restrictions are implemented. In a situation of danger or heightened risk, it is difficult for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to guarantee consular help. Count on being flexible and resourceful, which means also having extra funds for buying new tickets or staying at a hotel for longer than you initially planned.

In emergencies, you can contact the emergency number +372 5301 9999 (24 h).

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/et/juhend/eriolukord.
  • 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/akt/31803202006

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 konsul[at]mfa[dot]ee (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.

I already bought and paid for a trip and tickets abroad. The company isn’t reimbursing me, where do I turn next?

You will have to contact the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority with your question. This authority has also put together official information related to the coronavirus and it is available on theirwebsite (in Estonian). 

You can also contact their information desk at +6201707.

Which Tallink vessels could currently reach Estonia or elsewhere?

  • On the Tallinn-Helsinki route, the shuttle vessel Megastar is still operating, its schedule is regular. Tallink will announce it as soon as possible should the schedule change.
  • On the Tallinn-Vuosaari route, the cargo vessel Sea Wind is still operating. The ship is operating on its regular schedule, which is available on our website: www.tallink.ee
  • On the Paldiski-Kapellskäri route, the vessel Regal Star is still operating. The ship is operating on its regular schedule. By way of exception, Regal Star currently also carries passenger cars.
  • The vessels Baltic Princess and Galaxy are currently operating between Stockholm and Turku on their regular schedule. Tickets for these ships are available at www.tallinksilja.com
  • Today, the vessels Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony are on their last voyages for the moment between Helsinki-Stockholm on their usual schedule. Tickets for these ships are still available today at www.tallinksilja.com

Tallink started making trips between Sassnitz in Germany and Paldiski from March 20. The trips will take place every other day.

For all bookings, it is up to the travellers to verify that they have the right to enter their country of destination.

Information on trips and bookings can be obtained from Tallink customer service:

  • Individual bookings and information: Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-5pm. For booking and information, call 17808 (85 cents/call + operator fee). For changing your booking, call 640 9804. Calling from abroad: +372 640 9808 or +372 640 9804, e-mail: booking[at]tallink[dot]ee.
     

Which restrictions on movement will apply at Finland’s internal and external borders from 19 March 2020

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.

I work in Finland and travel between Tallinn and Helsinki weekly. Is it possible for me to continue this or should I decide on where I want to stay until the end of the crises?

If you have registered a right of residency in Finland, you can return to Finland but there is a general requirement in force in Finland that you must remain in quarantine for 14 days after returning to Finland from a foreign country. People must adhere to this on their own and come to an agreement with their employer. As an Estonian citizen you may return to Estonia but then also have to remain in isolation for 14 days. If your permanent residence is in Estonia but you work in Finland and have not registered a right of residency in Finland then new rules will come into force from 00:00 on March 22, according to which Estonians who work in Finland with a working contract and do not have a registered right of residency on Finland cannot enter the country anymore. This means that you can enter Finland only if you have a registered right of residency in Finland. All Estonians who work in Finland but live in Estonia should decide before that whether to go to Finland and stay there working until the rules change or stay in Estonia. If they do the latter, they have no opportunity to go to Finland until the rules change, which might take time. We stress that you should base this decision on your own health and the health of your close ones and also discuss your options with your employer.


Considering the quickly changing situation and the need to restrict the spread of the virus, we do recommend that you carefully consider your need to travel and move from one country to another only when it is unavoidable. Estonian citizens can always return home. The passenger ships between Helsinki and Tallinn are currently sailing. Tallink is continuing ship traffic according to a changed schedule. Look at the web pages of Tallink, Eckerö Line and Viking Line for additional information.

If I’m coming from abroad as an Estonian citizen/resident, will I be allowed to cross the border?

From the border control point of view there are no obstacles set to leaving Estonia right now. The state of Estonia very strongly recommends not travelling to other countries but it can be done. You should definitely consider whether it is absolutely necessary to travel. Travelling for tourism is not sensible. Stay at home and don’t travel, as you can get stuck in a quarantine area when you travel to another country and getting home is very complicated, sometimes impossible.

In order to limit the spread of the corona virus, the states can change the conditions to entering their country and moving around there at a very short notice.

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 an entrepreneur 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.

If I get infected with the coronavirus will my residence permit get revoked?

No, it won't. 

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.

If I’m a Latvian citizen working daily in Estonia, can I cross the border several times a day?

If you are a resident of Latvia working in Estonia, you must apply for a special permit from the police to allow you to cross the border. You can submit your application by e-mail at ppa[at]politsei[dot]ee or at the border checkpoint. The application shall be processed within 24 hours of the submission of the application. The application form can be found at https://www.politsei.ee/en-US/guide/english/
When applying, please note that you must meet the following conditions:

  • The border is to be crossed at the Valga-1 or Valga-3 border crossing checkpoints.
  • Your registered place of residence must be in the Valka region of the Republic of Latvia.
  • Your purpose of crossing the border is work in Valga city administrative territory, fulfilling contractual obligations or doing business.
  • You are not subject to a 14-day restriction on freedom of movement or "isolation".

I am a Latvian but my son lives with his mother in Estonia. Will I be able to come to visit him?

Foreigners who are free of the virus may enter Estonia to visit their parents, grandparents, 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

If a person comes back to Estonia from abroad, but lives with an elderly relative, who is in the risk group and already sick, where will this returning person be isolated? Are there places that have been designated for people in these kinds of situations (a hotel that has been adjusted for it, for example)?

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).

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 acquaintances were planning a visit to Estonia and they already had a visa. Then came the crisis. What now?

If the acquaintance was issued a visa (ie the visa was already printed and affixed to the passport) before the state of emergency was established, then he / she cannot enter Estonia until the state of emergency has ended. The following application will be processed free of charge, provided that the original visa has not been used for travel to Estonia or elsewhere.
 

Does the isolation requirement also apply to crews sailing between Estonia and Finland?

(Example: Silja Europa will arrive at Tallinn Port around 22.00 tonight. The crew will stay on board. Will they get off the ship tomorrow morning (home / Tallink office) when customs are opened, or will the whole team be quarantined?)

The following are allowed in Estonia:
  • 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.
Others are denied entry and will be sent back from the border.
The movement restriction or so-called isolation / quarantine requirement does not currently apply for crew members admitted to the country.

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.

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.

Will cargo shipments also stop due to the restrictions?

As of now, international cargo (also food and medical supplies transport) can enter the country, as well as persons providing vital services, like fuel providers. For additional information contact the Estonian Tax and Customs Board.

Does the truck driver returning to Estonia after March 17 with freight have to undergo quarantine for 14 days or can he travel immediately?

According to the order of the Government, the 14-day quarantine does not apply to carriers of goods or raw materials, persons engaged in the international transport of goods and passengers.

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

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 – for example, which goods can be transported, which cannot, and which are priority goods?

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). 

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.

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. 

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): www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/517032020001/consolide. 

My flight has been cancelled, what are my rights?

If the airline cancelled the flight, the passenger has the right to a refund for their ticket, if the flight started from within the European Union or a third country but was provided by a European Union carrier. The passenger also has the right to assistance and care from the airline, such as access to food and accommodation if they miss a connecting flight.

My flight and accommodation were booked separately, but I no longer wish to travel. What should I do?

You should contact the agent who sold you the tickets and the accommodation, or the airline and accommodation provider directly, to find out whether it is possible to cancel the service and get your money back.

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.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared my travel destination a risk area. If I decide to not go, will the insurer compensate the damages (the plane tickets and accommodation)?

Generally insurers do not consider a situation where an insured person gives up travelling abroad themselves as an insurance event and the damages are not subject to compensation. Whether a specific insurer does compensate damages, when a person decides not to travel to an area, where the ministry of foreign affairs does not recommend going, depends on that particular insurer. In addition, there are some insurers, who for a separate fee offer additional insurance protection for situations, when the insured person cancels travel for whatever reason, but that type of protection is not very common. 

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?

First, if it is a package travel deal, turn to your travel agent. If it is not a package deal, then turn to the airline carrier and the accommodation companies to work out alternative solutions – for example, you could ask about travelling after the situation is stabilised.
If the flight is cancelled by an airline or another transport company due to the coronavirus spreading in the destination, then the traveller has the right to get their money back for the plane tickets, provided that the starting point of the flight was in the European Union. If the company refuses to compensate the tickets, then a claim should be submitted to your insurance company.

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 part of the package that the traveller does not use, if they have themselves decided to return early from their trip?

If the traveller wishes to return home early because of the state of emergency in Estonia, they do not have the right to ask for their money back from the tour operator for any services within the package that they did not use.

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 traveller has the right to demand a discount for the part of the package tour that was not used because of its early termination, and to get a refund for the cost of the unused 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?

Regulation of package tours gives travellers the right to terminate their package tour contract before the tour starts without paying a termination fee if there are unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances in the destination or its immediate surroundings that would substantially affect the provision of services within the package or travel to the destination.

Unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances may cover military conflict, other serious security problems such as terrorism, substantial danger to health such as an outbreak of a serious illness in the travel destination, or natural disasters such as floods, earthquake or weather conditions that make it impossible to provide security in the destination in the way foreseen in the package tour contract. You must inform the tour operator of your wish to withdraw from the package tour before the tour starts.

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.

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. 

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. 

Transport and vehicles

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.

Are the service centres of the Road Administration open? Are theory and practical driving exams being held?

The service centres of the Road Administration are closed and theory and practical exams for driving have been suspended for at least two weeks. Those whose exams are cancelled will be given a new exam date at the first possible opportunity and the state fee will be waived.

How can I get the documents I need from the Road Administration?

Documents applied for from the Road Administration before 16 March will be sent to the applicant by post. Documents ordered from service centres through the online service from 17 March onward will not be sent by post or courier, but will remain in the service centre. An exception is made for digital tachograph cards, which will be sent on as ordered.

Although the service centres are closed, the online service and information telephone number of the Road Administration will work as normal. For this reason you are asked to use the online service for transactions, and to order documents to be sent by post your home and registration plates to be sent to automatic parcel machines.

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.

Military Service

Additional questions about potential conscripts medical examinations kaitsevaeteenistus.ee, info[at]kra[dot]ee, tel 800 2525 and 717 0700.

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 get out of 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 canceled. The situation and the possibility of visits will be reevaluated as the situation progresses.

Will training be halted?

As of now, everyday training will continue as planned.

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. 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? 

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).

On 17 March, the Commander of the Defence Forces decided to significantly reduce the capacity of Spring Storm 2020 and change the location of the exercise. The training exercise 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 of the planned field trainings and the training operation “Kevadtorm”?

The director of Kaitsevägi has ordered to cease all training-related gatherings planned for March.|

With regards to the trainings in April, the decision will be made according to information known at the time. The preparations for Kevadtorm will continue as planned.

What of the units currently in foreign missions? Will they be brought home or if new deployments will cease?

With regards to foreign operations, no changes are planned. All rotations will continue as scheduled.

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, and the Defence Forces are not to be deployed abroad for foreign missions. All service personnel arriving from other countries will be working from home when possible for the restriction period. 

As a preventive measure, the service personnel who might have been exposed to infected persons when abroad will be also working from home, when possible.

For each planned operation in Estonia, the heads of different departments will make a decision to cancel or not.
If an event has participants that originate from outside the defence forces, the head of units has the right to cancel or use long-distance work possibilities. Events that turn into public events will be coordinated with local government.

How many members of the Defence Forces are infected with coronavirus?

At the moment, three members of the Defence Forces have been found infected with the COVID-19 virus. Nobody has severe symptoms at the moment.

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 can soldiers in quarantine and inside the military bases be contacted and for how long?

Conscripts and active military personnel remain in quarantine for two weeks, during which they will be supplied with food from the thermoses in the canteen, that are being left behind the door. Empty thermoses are being disinfected.

Both quarantined and soldiers contained within the bases can be contacted via their personal cell phones. Parcels can be sent to the base either by mail or by leaving at the entry of the base.

Why have the defence forces taken these precautions and limitations? Has a member of the defence forces been infected with the coronavirus?

At the moment there has been no identified cases of COVID-19 in the defence forces.These are preventative measures to avoid the spread of the virus into the defence forces.

The purpose of these measures is first and foremost to protect the personnel of the defence forces. This is to guarantee the continuation of training and to protect the population of Estonia by reducing the movement of hundreds of people, also reducing opportunities for the virus to spread.

What are the tasks for the defence forces in this emergency situation?

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 Force are prepared for action if the government decides to appoint additional tasks for them.

Are defence training institutions being closed in the same way as all other educational institutions?

The Estonian National Defence College and the Baltic Defence College also moved to remote learning from Monday. The institutions themselves will give more detailed information to those studying there.

Are the defence forces educational institutions also closed?

From Monday, the Defence Force Academy and the Baltic Defence College will switch to long-distance forms of learning. Specifics for students will be forthcoming from the institutions themselves.

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

How does the state emergency influence the VDF?

KAll outdoor training operations are canceled until the 1st of May. Where possible, they will be replaced with long distance learning or other formats where there is no direct contact between people. For shooting and outdoor exercises, it will be up to local brig 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’ Voluntary Defence Organisation (WVDO) assistance to Health Board and Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB) will continue.

How long and where exactly will VDF offer assistance?

Currently VDF volunteer help has been agreed to last for three weeks. WVDO members are on a mission to spread awareness in the bus-stations at Tallinn and Tartu. Members of the VDF are also supporting the PBGB East Prefecture on the green border and the Ikla border station.

How are members of the WVDO and VDF being involved?

The involvement of volunteers for assistance is fulfilling duties as meant by 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 vacation if necessary. Structural units will  issue notices to employers if necessary.
With regards 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. The people called to service will be healthy people with no chronic diseases. In addition to active members,  supporting and honorary members are allowed to be called to service. Junior members will not be engaged.

A VDF member will fulfill their service duties in unifor. For those without uniforms, they will be provided one from the brig. VDF members are obligated to use the forms of self defence approved by the Health Board and PBGB (respirator, rubber gloves, protective glasses or visor) and to follow hygiene regulations.

What happens if a volunteer gets infected with COVID-19?

The VDF will not compensate the costs related to sickness or loss-of-income due to quarantine. Active health insurance is strictly recommended so that possibility for 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.

If and how are medical examinations taking place?

The DDR is canceling 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 DDR via email.

Where can I get additional information about medical examinations?

Anyone affected by the change will be informed by DDR via email. Additional information can be acquired through the use of the usual methods of communicating with the DDR: kaitsevaeteenistus.ee, info[at]kra[dot]ee, tel 800 2525 ja 717 0700.

Police and rescue

Will the police still help me if I or any of my relatives have fallen ill?

Yes, the police will help you in any case.

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 visited a risk area 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) www.vabatahtlikud.ee.

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. You have to comply with the requirements and avoid moving around in large crowds. 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.

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 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 make sure your children stay at home to keep them from straying? What kind of assistance does the police provide?

It is best to talk with your child and agree on a plan to stay at home – how to organise studying, how you as a parent can help, rules for eating and other activities, including interacting with friends. Scaring children with the police is not a solution. What is needed now is to clarify the need to stay at home for the health of yourself and others.

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. They should keep a reasonable distance from others and comply with hygiene requirements. Gatherings, including young people hanging out in gangs, are not encouraged. 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.

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?

There is no reason to worry about it. 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.

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 large does an event need to be in order to be a “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.

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.

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.

Why were the service offices of the Police and Border Guard Board closed?

Thousands of people visit the Police and Border Guard Board’s service offices on a daily basis. In order to help prevent the spread of the virus and protect people’s health, all service offices of the PBGB have been temporarily closed since 13 March.

How long will the service offices of the PBGB remain closed and where can I get information on future opening hours?

The service offices will be closed on Friday 13 March and Monday 16 March. During this time, the Police and Border Guard Board will reorganise its services so that people can submit necessary applications and receive their documents with the minimal risk of infection. The Police and Border Guard Board will announce through the media and on its website https://www.politsei.ee/ how the services will be organised from 17 March.

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 www.rescue.ee

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.

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 returned from a foreign trip or who may have been exposed to the infected person will also remain at home.

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 do I know that a home counselling rescue officer is not a virus carrier?

Currently, the home counselling service has been suspended by the Rescue Board.

Can I refuse home counselling?

Currently, the home counselling service has been suspended by the Rescue Board. If home counselling is resumed, the individual has the right to refuse home counselling.

What items and in what quantities does the Rescue Board recommend to stock for this crisis?

There should be food and other supplies at home so that the family can cope for at least a week without visiting the store. This could be the usual food that family members eat every day, plus long-lasting foods (canned food, cookies, etc.). The recommended list and quantities are available at www.kriis.ee.

Tips for visiting shopping centres:

  • Visit stores as infrequently as possible, plan to purchase the necessary products for a longer period.
  • Plan a visit outside peak hours.
  • Avoid close contact with other people.
  • When shopping, do not touch the item without a reason.
  • Fruits and vegetables purchased in bulk 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.

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.

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 www.rescue.ee.

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 at kohus.ee website.

The courts are requesting people to forward documents electronically, by email, or to leave them in the post box, avoiding entering the Registry. The Court shall examine the documents submitted and contact the person, if necessary. You can also ask for the document to be issued electronically or by post.

The prosecutor has stopped receiving citizens. The prosecutor can be contacted by telephone or email, and the contact details are on the prosecutor’s website at https://www.prokuratuur.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.

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.

Churches

Do regular church services take place?

No. All public religious and church events, including public church services, church concerts and other gatherings of people have been cancelled or postponed.

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.

Do church services take place?

Religious services are allowed only in unavoidable specific cases and privately if measures are taken to avoid possible infection of people.

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.

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.

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.

Are there special requirements for attending church?

At church the same rules of hygiene and avoiding infection apply as in all public spaces.

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 (PDF) in 2019 for waste created in health care, which also includes a section on managing contagious waste.

Can I take waste to a waste collection site during an emergency situation? 

First, please make sure that the waste collection sites are even open. At the moment, most of them have temporarily closed and are not accepting waste. In addition, at the moment the recommendation is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.
However, if you still have the opportunity and the dire need to hand over waste, make sure that the identification process would be as free of contact as possible, and keep a distance. IDs should be used for identification only if it is possible to avoid contact when handing over the ID card (for example, if a client can insert the card into the reader himself). Alternately, the person can be identified, for example, by asking for their address.

At the waste collection site, avoid cash payments and allow card payments only.

What should I know if I keep the waste collection site open during this complicated time?

  • You should notify your employees of the possible risks and ramp up the hygiene requirements considerably.
  • At the waste collection site, do not touch or handle waste that may be contaminated. If needed, wait at least 72 hours for handling the waste, to make sure the risk of contamination is over.
  • At the waste collection site, the work and space must be organised in a way that there would be distance between people: so there wouldn’t be contact when queueing, etc.
  • At the waste collection site, use disinfectants regularly to clean the ID card reader, the card payment terminal, and other frequent use surfaces (doorknobs, handles, etc.).
  • If a waste collection site located on a local government territory is closed, the local government should notify their residents. People might wish to use the free time at home to do some home improvement, and the local government should provide residents with information about how and when the waste collection site can be used.
  • Residents should avoid using the waste collection sites until the spread of the virus is under control. That is safer both for the waste collection site workers as well as the residents.
  • If you work at a waste collection site, it is very important to wash your hands as often as possible with warm water and soap, or use disinfectants.

What are the requirements for waste management during the emergency situation?

  • Again – 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.

When travelling from Saaremaa Island to mainland Estonia, is it necessary to self-isolate for 2 weeks?

No, not if you have not had any contact with the coronavirus. If you have any symptoms of illness, whether COVID-19, the flu, a cold, a stomach bug or whatever, then you must remain at home and look after yourself, wherever you have been.

Am I allowed to cross the border?

From the border control point of view there are no obstacles set to leaving Estonia right now. The state of Estonia very strongly recommends not travelling to other countries but it can be done. You should definitely consider whether it is absolutely necessary to travel. Travelling for tourism is not sensible. Stay at home and don’t travel, as you can get stuck in a quarantine area when you travel to another country and getting home is very complicated, sometimes impossible.
In order to limit the spread of the corona virus, the states can change the conditions to entering their country and moving around there at a very short notice.

I am on a trip and want to return to home but have not found a way to do that. I have heard that some stranded people have been transported back by special flights, How can I find out more information about opportunities like these?

We recommend following the Facebook page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also the Facebook page of the local or nearest Estonian embassy. Many passenger transportation companies have decreased their number of departures or cancelled them altogether but there still exist opportunities to get home. You should keep in mind that the measures that different countries have enacted can become more strict at a short notice and be prolonged and there are less and less opportunities to move.

Can you bring examples of connections that still work?

We recommend looking at the overviews of connections that are up on the web pages of the bigger travel agencies.

I am travelling and would be able to manage safely at the place I am at for some more time. I can see that plane connections have not totally stopped either. What should I do? Should I still try to get back or stay in place?

At the moment, the situation is changing very quickly. We recommend considering that in the near future the measures the countries are taking will probably become more strict rather than more lenient and that the number of plane connections will probably decrease. When making these decisions, we also recommend thinking through a plan for a situation where the crisis drags on for a long period.

If you are convinced that you could get by safely in a foreign country during the crisis period, you do not have to come back. Follow the instructions of the local authorities and definitely also turn attention to the period of validity of your visa or other basis for staying in the country.

If I’m coming from abroad as an Estonian citizen/resident, will I be allowed to cross the border?

Starting from March 17, all persons entering Estonia must remain in isolation for 14 days (excl. exceptions).

I’m a foreign citizen. Can I travel to Estonia, do I have to stay in isolation?

You cannot. Entry into Estonia is allowed to Estonian citizens, Estonian residents with a residence permit or a right of residence, including the holders of the so-called grey passport.

Can a (Finnish) life partner of an Estonian come from Finland to Estonia, the couple is not married but are life partners (the Finn has a company registered in Estonia)?

At present, an EU citizen can enter Estonia if he has been granted right of residency in Estonia. An exception is made with an amendment from March 18 regarding Latvian citizens (who are also EU citizens) who are travelling to work or home from work between local municipalities directly bordering the state border between Estonia and Latvia.

If this Finnish person has a right of residency, i.e. as an EU citizen he has registered his Estonian place of residence in the Estonian population register and has an Estonian ID card, coming to Estonia should not be a problem. He still has to comply with the requirement to stay at home for 14 days.

Can I enter Estonia if I am an EU citizen and have a company registered in Estonia but do not have a right of residency in Estonia?

You cannot. You can if you have a permanent place of residence in Estonia and thus also the right of residency.

Can I enter Estonia if I am an EU citizen and my life partner is Estonian (we are not married) but I do not have a right of residency in Estonia.

You cannot. You can if you have a permanent place of residence in Estonia and thus also the right of residency.

Can I enter Estonia if I am an EU citizen and I have common children with an Estonian (we are not married) but I do not have a right of residency in Estonia?

Yes, you can.

My acquaintances from Russia were planning to come to visit Estonia and already had a visa. Then the crisis arrived. What will happen now?

If your acquaintances were issued single entry visas (i.e. the visa was already printed and glued into the passport) immediately before the state of emergency was declared then they cannot enter Estonia with it until the state of emergency ends. The next equivalent application will be processed for free, on the condition that the visa has not been used to travel to Estonia or anywhere else.

I read that Estonia has stopped issuing visas but we will be holding a funeral. Can our relatives from a nearby state come to Estonia and how?

It is still possible to apply for a visa on humanitarian grounds (sickness of a close relative, funeral). Please turn to the Estonian embassy of the relevant country.

Do the restrictions on movement also apply for the ship crews of the ships sailing between Estonia and Finland? (Example of the caller: Silja Europa will arrive in the port of Tallinn tonight at around 22.00. The crew will stay on the ship, can they come off the ship tomorrow morning (to go home/to the offices of Tallink) when the customs opens or will the whole crew be put in quarantine?)

Entry into Estonia is allowed to Estonian citizens, Estonian residents with a residence permit or a right of residence, including the holders of the so-called grey passport. Also these foreign citizens and foreigners who have a family member living in Estonia. Foreigners coming to Estonia in the framework of international military cooperation are also allowed to enter the country. On the basis of a special permit of the police, a foreigner who is not exhibiting symptoms and whose close relative is an Estonian citizen or a person with a right of residence is allowed to enter the country. Vehicles for international transport of goods are allowed to enter the country. Also people performing critical services, for instance fuel transporters.

Estonia can be used as a corridor of transport by foreigners in order to reach their home country if they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. Anybody else is prohibited from entering Estonia and will be sent back from the border.

Members of crew who are allowed to enter the country do not have any restrictions to their movement as of now.

 

Official recommendations

Health

Health information can be found on the website of the Health Board. 

terviseamet.ee/en »

Education

Guidelines for education institutions can be found on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research. 
hm.ee »

Working

information about working during the emergancy situation can be found on the website of the Working Life. tooelu.ee /en »

Travelling

The Foreign Ministry provides general information on travel safety on its website. vm.ee/en »

 

 

COVID-19

COVID-19 disease is caused by SARS-CoV-2. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illness in humans. The virus is transmitted from person to person through droplet spread. The incubation period of the virus is about 2-14 days. There is no treatment for coronavirus.

The symptoms of the disease are fever 38 °C, cough, difficulty breathing. Special attention should be paid to these symptoms if the patient has previously visited China (within 14 days) or has been in direct contact with a previously confirmed case.

The risk of virus introduction into Estonia is very high.

About the prevention, instructions and recommendation concerning the COVID-19 disease read more from the website of Health Board terviseamet.ee/en »

If you have any questions concerning your health, contact the Health Board by e-mail kesk[at]terviseamet[dot]ee or call the family physician advisory line +372 634 6630.

 

 

 

Application of measures of emergency situation

 

Last updated: 25 March 2020