Mayor of Tallinn proposes stricter rules for emergency situation

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart.
Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

On Tuesday, the Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) put forward several proposals to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) to tighten restrictions in the capital during the emergency situation and to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). These include banning gatherings of more than 3-5 people, restricting minors' movements and shutting hookah lounges.

Kõlvart and Tallinn City Government suggested stricter rules should be being enforced in the short term to stop the spread of the virus which can then become softer in the future.

The proposals suggested banning groups of more than three to five people moving or staying in public places, except for people who are working or need help to move.

"There are plenty of examples of people spending time in the public space without much need, visiting shopping centers, gathering in groups on playgrounds, in parks, or otherwise spending time together outdoors," the mayor wrote.

"In recent days, doctors and scientists have increasingly begun calling on the public to avoid collective gatherings in public places, even on the streets. I believe that their concerns are fully justified."

Kõlvart wrote there have also been problems with school children meeting in public spaces, especially near fast-food restaurants which do not have security guards unlike shopping centers. He suggested minors should not be allowed to meet or travel in public spaces at certain times of the day. No specific time was mentioned, but the statement said an exemption would be possible if a child was accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

"It is important to minimize unnecessary direct human contact and unnecessary movement in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus," Kõlvart wrote.

A third proposal suggested catering establishments (such as fast food outlets) could be prohibited unless they are fully compliant with the Health Board's guidelines. This includes the ability for customers to keep a distance of more than one meter away from each other and tables, chair and surfaces being regularly cleaned and, where possible, disinfected.

The city thinks the rules regarding the selling of alcohol between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. need to be better enforced and, together with the municipal police, found many violations on a recent spot check.

Buffet catering facilities and hookah bars should be closed for the duration of the emergency situation as the likelihood of spreading the virus is high.

Entertainment, such as free wifi, billiards and other games, sports broadcasts or private parties, should also not be allowed in catering establishments to stop people gathering in them.

The prime minister should consider closing entertainment venues such as billiard halls and bowling alleys, it was also proposed. Catering establishments, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment establishments should be shut from 10 p.m. onwards.

An emergency situation is currently in place in Estonia which limits movement in public spaces. Cinemas, theaters, museums, gyms and water parks are closed until at least May 1. Public gatherings are banned. Anyone who can is being asked to work from home.

On Tuesday, public playgrounds and sports grounds were shut in both Tallinn and Tartu.

Kõlvart's full statement can be read here in Estonian.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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