Life in Estonia during the COVID19 pandemic

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(Last Updated On: 3. Jun 2020)

14 March

Yesterday, on 13.03 (Friday), the Estonian government has officially declared a state of emergency in the whole country. At work, we were instructed to take home our laptops and start doing the home office from 16.03 (Monday). I wouldn’t say this came as a surprise though, as we have been taking our laptops home with us for the last couple of weeks. The drills did the job, nobody panicked.

During lunch, I went to the local supermarket to check out the empty shelves. The rumor was true – there is a noticeable scarcity in noodles, buckwheat, and toilet paper. All public events (concerts, museums, cinemas, sports events) have been canceled. Schools,  universities and all public offices are closed.

It was the last Zumba yesterday for me, as the gym that I go to declared that there will be no group classes from 16.03-29.03 (which ended up being closed until 18.05!). I can’t say I’m happy about it. I love working out, and I love Zumba. Strangely, the gym will still be open and another gym will have group classes. It makes me wonder if I should switch the gym, as skipping is really not something I want to do.

As of the evening 14.03.2020, the total number of corona infected in Estonia rose from 41 in the morning to 79 in the evening and by the next morning (15.03) it was 109.

This seems to be changing fast! At the moment the total number is 115 (compared to around 5 at the beginning of the week!). The state has decided to close all gyms, spas, and any kind of entertainment. The islands are now closed, you can’t go to Saaremaa or Hiiumaa. And just this morning I was hoping to go to the gym tomorrow one last time before a long break. Well, looks like I will have to come up with a plan B or take part in those video workouts advertised by one gym.

Today was actually surprisingly great weather and many people went outdoors and enjoyed the woods. We went for a short walk too, the sun was so bright! It snowed a little and everything was just white. Spring is coming, I can feel it!

My cousin invited me to join him for a weekend hackathon – “How to battle Corona”. We came up with a really cool board game idea, I made some sketches. Tomorrow he will pitch and we will see how it goes. Judging by the number of participants, people are interested in this topic and motivated to come up with ideas.

As of right now, it seems like the country will be shut down completely, including state borders. We will see.

15 March

It’s official – Estonia is closing its borders as of 17th March, only residents will be allowed in. Thank God I’m not traveling right now. It’s so good to be home safe. Total infected at the moment  – 135. In the evening it is already 171.

The weather today is sunny and would be nice if it wasn’t for the cold wind. I think I got a slight cold after yesterday’s walk – have a running nose. Drinking ginger tea and enjoying some Zumba music. Our board game is almost finished, decided to switch the design for a more dramatic – CV (as Corona Virus). The fun element is still there though – in the end, its for the kids.

16 March

Today was my first ever work-at-home experience. It went quite well, luckily the systems work perfectly and I kept forgetting at times that I’m not in the office. Also, stretching from time to time is very handy! The current total number is 205 but looks like they will stop testing most people as there are not enough personnel and most corona cases are too mild anyway. It’s been raining all day and I have had a chance to peek out the window quite a lot. Right now the sun is slowly climbing out from the clouds, we may get a beautiful sunset!

 

Source: Vabariigi Presidendi Kantselei

 

The city is deserted, our president came up with an idea for everybody to stand by the windows at 8 PM with phone flashlights, signaling those who have to be out and working, show them our appreciation. Some people are funny, only worried that there may be an alcohol ban. Seriously?

For those, who are stuck abroad the time is very limited now – basically Tallinn will stop getting air traffic within this week! I wonder what were those people thinking when it all started and cheap deals were falling from the sky. They all kept saying – ah, gotta use the chance, what can happen? So now these same brave ones have to cope with the possibility of not returning home for the next month or so, or paying around 1500€ for flights that may not even get them home.

On the positive note – yesterday’s hackathon brought a cool solution – one team wrote an app that allows to open sick leave by a person themself online. How cool is that?

19 March

The week is almost over and I’m starting to get used to the home office. Also, my running nose has healed! I’ve stopped following the news because the numbers don’t change that much – only those in great need are tested and the rest just stay at home. The current number is 267.  I guess we will never know for sure how many were sick.

On the positive note – the government seems to be doing a lot to save the situation. For example, they are sending a ferry to Germany to bring the ones stuck at the German-Polish border home.

Most gyms in my city are now offering video training, which is cool. Also, at work, things are pretty much the same. In fact, I have so much to do that hardly any time is left for anything else. Something tells me this crisis will be over sooner than anticipated.

25 March

Wow, time flies! it’s already Wednesday and I’ve really settled in working at the home office. The situation is evolving slowly, yesterday the government has announced that all public places are closed, including shopping malls. Basically, only food stores, pharmacies, and telecom companies are still open. Many people used the chance to spend the weekend outdoors. Now, it is forbidden to travel in groups, max 2 people can be outside together (excluding families).

We went out of town to one of the nature trails, quite far from Tallinn. There were practically no cars and very little people. At the gas station, I noticed they have now coffee cups lines up at the counter, already sorted with caps and sticks. Something tells me this crisis will be over sooner than expected, hopefully, by the beginning of May, everything will be open again. Will we be able to travel? Who knows! My Ryanair tickets for 16th May to Germany haven’t been canceled yet.

Current numbers for Estonia: 404 confirmed cases, 28 in the hospital with 5 in a critical state.

08 April

Yesterday I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. I didn’t realize it will be so hard staying inside for so long. It’s almost 4 weeks now! I haven’t got sick, but many people did. The total number is now 1149 and rising, but of course, its nothing compared to Italy, Spain and the US. Spring is coming our way, yesterday we had a record of around +16C! I could only watch it through the window, though. Still, it’s nice to know that summer will be here soon and things might get better after all.

I treated myself to a new toy last week – a drone! It will be a good addition to my camera gear for future trips, whenever they occur. Sooner or later, we will be on the road again.

06 May

Time flies! Spring has finally arrived, the last couple of days were nice and warm with +15C. The amount of new cases is slowly decreasing, for the last week it has been around 5-10 new daily cases. Today, our manager has sent us a proposal to return back to the office from 18th May. For starters, it is only going to be volunteers. Many gyms are offering classes outside, for up to 9 people. Next week on Monday, 11th May, shopping malls will be re-opened again.

I have received a cancellation notice for our May flight to Germany. I was expecting this, to be honest. On the other hand, I have booked a Portugal trip for late November. Hopefully, the airline will still exist by the time the trip is due.

 

18 May

This will be the last entry for this mini diary. Today, on the 18th of May, the state of emergency in Estonia has been lifted. Shopping malls are open, gyms are opening today (Zumba tonight, yet!), many people return to offices. Things start to get back to normal.

So, what has happened in these 2 months? Lot’s of things!

  • Many people have discovered it is fine to work from home, companies may actually take a huge advantage of this (no office space needed)
  • Lot’s of small businesses have suffered, many people laid off
  • Tourism will be pretty much non-existent this summer
  • When you spend so much time at home without the possibility to travel, you start to appreciate small local things.
  • Hand sanitizers are everywhere now!
  • People have gotten the new habit of avoiding each other in public spaces. Something tells me this will not go away even after it is all over.
  • Travel will take longer and be more stressful and expensive in the future.
  • No one knows when the new wave will hit, so we might see similar situations again. I have heard the theory that this is connected to unusually warm winter this year.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

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