Tallinn takes new coronavirus preventive measures

Tallinn city government will be taking the first measures in the so-called yellow pandemic scenario that mainly cover precautions in schools.

The Health Board said on Wednesday morning that 22 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the last 24 hours of whom 11 in Tallinn and Harju County.

“I believe the figures are critical as the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people has reached 31.5 in Tallinn and exceeds 20 for the whole of Estonia,” Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart said. “Allow me to remind you that the case rate stood at 4.2 when Estonia declared an emergency situation in spring.”

The mayor emphasized that the second wave of the virus has already arrived. “We made preparations over the summer and had three scenarios by September based on which the city must stand ready to function. For institutions, especially educational institutions to function, preventive measures need to be take now,” Kõlvart said.

Visors for teachers

Even though the green scenario is still in effect according to Kõlvart, schools are voluntarily taking yellow scenario measures. “We will be applying these measures centrally as of Thursday,” he assured.

This means dispersion of students and switching them to distance learning in rotations on the basic school and high school levels. The aim of these measures is to avoid having to switch schools to full distance study again.

“In order to retain the possibility of contact study, we must disperse students today. Usually, starting from eight grade, while it depends on individual schools’ study organization and premises,” Kõlvart explained.

Use of personal protective devices will also become prominent. The city amassed sufficient stockpiles over the summer, while schools were recently given additional resources for procurements. Every teacher must have a protective visor the use of which is mandatory a week from now at the latest.

Schools have also been allocated funds for the procurement of thermal cameras. A single camera costs around €8,000 and all schools need to have installed one by the end of September.

The mayor said that events will not be banned yet, while it would be sensible to limit them to class or kindergarten group level. For city offices, the yellow scenario means that service bureau workers and customer service specialists must use personal protective devices. Premises will also have to cleaned and disinfected more often.

Starting from next week, Tallinn public transport vehicles will not allow people to enter or exit from the front door. “We have already stopped selling tickets on board vehicles, while we will now be closing front doors. No bus or tram driver got sick in Tallinn during the emergency situation and we hope we can repeat that feat,” the mayor said.

He also urged the private sector not to wait for government orders and take prophylactic measures now to prevent infection. Even though no one can demand people wear a mask on public transport vehicles or when attending public events, Kõlvart believes it is time to start.

Cheaper rent for companies

Deputy mayor Aivar Riisalu said that all entrepreneurs renting premises from Tallinn in the city center will be give an 80 percent discount from September until the end of the year. The terraces of restaurants will also be exempt from rent. “We want to urge businesses to observe safety precautions,” Riisalu explained. The city’s tourism marketing campaign has been altered to make the Old Town attractive to Estonians and citizens of Tallinn. “In the coming months, the Tallinn Old Town will become accessible to those who have perhaps been reluctant to go because of hordes of foreign tourists. People who would perhaps like to enjoy this small wonder in a more private setting,” Riisalu said.

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