Estonia shuts schools as virus cases surge

By: AFP      Published: 10:19 PM, 19 Feb, 2021
Estonia shuts schools as virus cases surge

Estonia on Friday ordered the closure of all schools except the youngest grades after its coronavirus infection rate surged to the EU's second highest level.

The government also shut public saunas and swimming pools from Monday and asked Estonians to work from home if they could and to celebrate their Independence Day next week in private.

"The rules set by the government are designed to ensure our healthcare system can withstand the burden," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said.

Children over the age of 11 will be required to stay home from Monday.

With a population of just 1.3 million people, Estonia shut down early and was relatively spared by the first wave of the virus last year.

But its infection rate has surged in recent weeks and is now at 601 contaminations per 100,000 inhabitants over 14 days -- second to Czech Republic which has the EU's highest rate of 1,026.

Under the new restrictions, Estonia's restaurants and bars will be allowed to continue to operate but only at 50 percent capacity.