New emergency situation rules entered into effect on Saturday mean that shops need to calculate how many clients they can accommodate based on their floor area to ensure compliance with the 2+2 rule. The order from Friday took many traders by surprise as work had to be reorganized by next morning.
The new rules were easier to observe in some shops.
An employee of the Aardla mini-Rimi shop in Tartu stood on the door and counted clients entering the shop on Saturday. When 15 people had entered the minimarket, new shoppers were asked to queue outside. As recently as Friday, the Rimi employee would have been putting products on shelves instead. The shop manager had little time to reorganize work.
"It definitely came as a surprise on the evening news at seven. We were not given any prior information. And it was effective immediately from Saturday morning – it's not always that easy to enforce these things," Rimi employees told the "Aktuaalne kaamera" evening news program.
Rimi ordered its minimarkets not to let in more than 15 people at once on Friday evening. Shop managers have also tried to be a little more creative, counting shopping carts rather than people.
The order first and foremost affects small shops as shoppers find it easier to keep their distance from each other in larger supermarkets.
Head of the Annelinn Prisma in Tartu Kalvi Tagamets said the shop is big enough for there to be 2 meters between shoppers and staff at any given time. "The Annelinn Prisma has over 13,000 square meters of floor space, meaning we could have 2,000 people in the shop at the same time, which is unrealistic anyway," Tagamets said.
Many pharmacies and post offices had previously decided to allow people to enter one by one. A security guard was even posted on the door of the Gardest gardening center.
Manager of Gardest Kristian Kalgas explained that the center is spacious and there is no risk of it becoming too crowded. "Rather, we need to make sure people do not gather around more popular products, which is what the security guard and our employees are keeping their eyes on. We are simply planning to expand the area where these popular products are on display. We can take these rules into effect when putting products on display," Kalgas said.
Because the Friday order took many traders by surprise, measures put in place on Saturday are temporary. Traders will discuss next week whether shops need additional employees and how they will go about limiting the number of simultaneous shoppers.
Editor: Marcus Turovski