Lifting of Open Container Ban Becomes Hot Topic Ahead of July 1 Changeover ({{commentsTotal}})

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The Estonian media is abuzz with talk of an impending change in alcohol interdiction policy, apparently triggered by an Eesti Päevaleht article confusing two different amendments to the Law Enforcement Act.

The daily reported that Parliament was conducting the third and final reading of a change that would lift the open container ban on July 1. In fact, that amendment in question was passed and signed into law in late winter, and today's amendment concerned such issues as registration of alcohol traders, among many other matters.

Nevertheless, the amendments in February were underreported at the time and are significant: they will make Estonia the most libertarian country in the region on alcohol consumption policy on July 1, with even strong alcohol allowed to be consumed openly.

Open container law continues to apply to the vicinity of schools, youth camps and hospitals. Local governments will be left the option of prohibiting alcohol consumption on playgrounds and recreational trails.

The law also says that alcohol may not be consumed in a manner that is disruptive to others. 

Police official Priit Heinsoo told EPL a specific person would have to make a complaint, and the police would have discretion on what action to take. 

Justice Ministry adviser Sander Põllumäe, one of the drafters, told the same publication that the strength of the spirits was not important, as long as the place of consumption and the requirement of respecting other people's rights were observed. 

Note: As mentioned, the original EPL story referred to the law being passed today. It actually passed in February.