New restrictions on alcohol sales extended to casinos and adding to Tallinn City Government regulations introduced late in 2019 are very liberal and should not significantly impact businesses, Tallinn deputy mayor Aivar Riisalu (Center) says.
Appearing on ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Wednesday night, Riisalu said that the city government had no intention to intervene in the operation of business, adding that once the earlier regulations - which put a ceiling on alcohol sales on site from 2 a.m. week nights (or nights before week days, i.e. including Sundays) and from an hour later on Fridays, Saturdays and nights preceding national holidays - were in place, it became clear these needed extending to casinos.
Riisalu said that entertainment businesses are divided into two categories.
"There are pubs and then there are so-called nightclubs and casinos. During the week, pubs have to stop selling alcohol at 2 a.m., and at 3 a.m. on weekends. They don't actually have to close at those times, and these are very liberal requirements," he said.
Riisalu noted that respected and well-known tourist areas elsewhere have applied similar restrictions in the past.
"I do not like restrictions. I am also in favor of a liberal business environment. It's just that I am hired to represent the interests of the city's citizenry between elections. Plus this is now a two-year-old debate that has been going on between citizens, business and the police," he said.
"In the current situation, we have met with representatives of different social groups and various entrepreneurs during the course of the same analysis. Absolutely everyone has been listened to; we talked with everyone. The entrepreneurs left the table in a relatively sympathetic manner, accepting that the restrictions were necessary," he added.
"We have actually calculated that there are virtually no entertainment establishments in Tallinn which are significantly affected by the amendments. At present, there may be a few. But for me, the biggest question was, what about these more new-fangled, so-called techno music clubs, which love to hustle round the clock. This was an issue on which I had a slight wobble. But, unfortunately, society has to come to a consensus at some point."
"I still maintain that if a nightclub is open till 5 a.m. and no more alcohol is on sale from 4 a.m., this should not, in fact, significantly affect its business," Riisalu said.
"I have run a nightclub myself in the past, and I would venture to say that anyone who was there at four in the morning was probably at a stage where it was good for them to head home," Riisalu concluded.
Tallinn has several deputy mayors. The Center Party is the sole ruling party, with Reform, SDE, EKRE and Isamaa in opposition at the city council chambers.
Editor: Andrew Whyte