Estonians stop buying alcohol in Latvia after border controls reintroduced

The Food Industry Association has looked at statistics, and found that things are looking bleak.
The Food Industry Association has looked at statistics, and found that things are looking bleak. Source: (ERR)

After the reintroduction of border control, the number of Estonian customers visiting alcohol shops operating along the Latvian border has dropped dramatically. Some shops have reduced their opening hours and some have even stopped trading altogether.

Co Alco SIA board member Veljo Madiberg told ERR their Goalco store in Ainaz has been closed since Wednesday.

"It has affected us brutally," he said, commenting about the impact on the store of the decision to reintroduce border control on Tuesday night. "We closed the shop, there is no point being open."

The store has about 15 employees, and according to Madiberg, it is not yet been decided whether to make people redundant or what should happen next. As the Latvian state, like Estonia, has decided to support companies hit by the crisis but it is not yet known if it will meet the qualifications for financial help.

At the same time, the company does not plan to permanently close the store's doors and believes that if restrictions are lifted, their business will return.

Aldar's Latvian branch has stores in Valka, Ainaz and Murat which employ almost 100 workers. Aldar Latvia board member Lauri Uibo said they have shortened their opening times because they currently have fewer customers.

Uibo said it is difficult to estimate how much turnover has fallen at the moment.

Some workers are currently on leave, some are on sick leave, but no redundancy decisions have been made and other means of support have been sought, Uibo said.

A spokesperson for Superalko said the company is preparing for the border to be locked for the foreseeable future but have not made any plans yet. "We are taking it a day at a time, there is no point in predicting anything. Everything changes day by day, even by hours, decisions will be made on a rolling basis," the spokesperson said.  

Einar Visnapuu, co-owner of the Alko 1000 chain store, said border controls are affecting their trade but Estonians are still shopping in their stores.

He said not everything in the city is at a standstill and not everyone is sitting at home.

At the same time, when speaking about the number of clients, Visnapuu admitted that the crisis has nevertheless had a drastic impact. "There's no song festival," he said.

What would happen next, he could not predict, but noted that he had certainly not considered closing the shops, which are working on a regular schedule, and did not know what the future would bring.

Due to the reintroduction of border control, only Estonian citizens and residents of Estonia with a residence permit or right of residence may enter Estonia. Foreign citizens whose family member lives in Estonia can also enter. Anyone who enters the country must be quarantined for 14 days.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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