The first penalties in Estonia have been issued for disregarding restrictions placed by the government in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, after two men in Tartu were fined €100, with a third awaiting judgement.
"While most people have followed instructions and stayed home over these weeks, there are, unfortunately, those exceptions who do not care about themselves or the health of others," the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) southern prefecture said on its social media account.
The current regulations include a bar on more than two people congregating in public places (families excepted).
The incident in Tartu saw three men assemble in a public place and, after being informed of their infringement by PPA officials, opted to reconvene as a three, resulting in an on-the-spot fine of €100 for two of the men.
"The third, who exhibited particular talents in his belief the world is his own, will be punished via further proceedings," the PPA added.
"So far, these are the only financial penalties imposed for violation of the state of emergency restrictions in Estonia, and they will hopefully be the last ones," the post continued.
"It is disappointing that the irresponsible behavior of some in situation where we are working towards being able to go out to friends again and do cool things together, without worrying, and move on over time."
PPA conducting home visits to check quarantine adhered to
To date, the police have issued about twenty precepts for infringing the restrictions, including in quarantine situations, often as the public have not realized that they have to comply with the rules. These were the first fines.
As of Sunday, the PPA says it made over 7,500 calls to people to determine if they were home as per regulations.
"We've also done about a hundred home visits to make sure people are at home. We take the controls quite seriously to ensure people follow the precepts and measures that are in place today," Priit Pärkna, the PPA's deputy director general, said.
Pärkna added while most people complied with the rules, occasional larger gatherings have occurred..
Pärkna also acknowledged the difference in awareness of the emergency situation between the Estonian and Russian-speaking populations, with informing Russian-speaking people the authority's greater focus now.
"We have also, very clearly in our work procedures paid a lot of attention to the Russian-speaking community via social media, as much as possible, taking advantage of community leaders and anyone in the community who is capable of further communicating."
Most problems have been with the behavior of people in larger population centers, which does not mean that they do not exist in rural areas as well, the PPA says.
Priit Pärkna also highlighted the fact that the "2+2" rule (no more than two people gathered and maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters from others when in public spaces) applies to nature reservations such as bogs, as well as public fitness tracks.
Editor: Andrew Whyte