Shopping centers in Estonia see most of their stores closed from Friday as part of the government's emergency measures aimed at combating the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The restrictions, which were amended Thursday evening to allow some post offices within malls to remain open as well as granting access to store staff for essential duties – such as animal care in the case of a closed pet store – mean all stores within shopping centers are closed to the public, though some key stores remain open, which are as follows:
- Telecomms stores.
- Bank offices.
- Parcel collection machines.
- 16 Post offices in smaller locales.
- Takeaway food.
- Stores selling or renting medical equipment.
Shopping malls must provide hand sanitizer at entrances/exits and security or other personnel will reportedly restrict movement within those outlets which remain open to two circulations.
All other stores and entertainment facilities including bars, restaurants, snooker halls, bowling alleys etc. are closed.
Staff and store owners are permitted entry, following a government amend Thursday night, to the stores they work in if there are essential reasons for doing so, such as to tend to live animals in pet stores, or to organize products being sold online.
The closures have met some pushback from mall owners, some of whom say that the measures will not prevent groups of people, including youths, from congregating inside the malls, as well as the economic damage.
One chain commonly found in shopping malls, Sportland, opted to hold a half-price sale on Wednesday, ahead of the closure. The company faced criticism when the move attracted large crowds of customers, and closed on Thursday, a day earlier than it was required to.
Regulations already in place require the public to maintain a two-meter distance from others when out and about, and not to assemble in groups of more than two (families excepted).
Cinemas, theaters, museums and other cultural facilities are closed, as are public playgrounds and sports fields.
The current emergency situation is set to run until the end of April; the government says it is reviewing the measures at least every two weeks.
Editor: Andrew Whyte