Minister: Shopping malls may reopen in first half of May ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Economic affairs minister Taavi Aas (Center). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Shopping malls in Tallinn might reopen in the first half of May, economic affairs minister Taavi Aas said Wednesday. Malls have been closed since March 28, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, though supermarkets, pharmacies, bank offices and mobile phone stores therein remained open to the public.

Speaking at a government press conference, Aas said that the government has an emergency situation exit roadmap more-or-less ready, with reopening the centers one of the components.

The emergency situation was declared on March 12.

Aas said that guidelines for shopping centers would be issued and the move was dependent on the public adhering to other emergency regulations still in place, as well as mall owners ensuring adequate disinfectant measures were pursued.

Aas also added that discounts would only be permissible for online versions of stores, not bricks-and-mortar stores inside malls. This was probably done following a discount drive issued by Sportland, a sporting goods store seen in many malls in Estonia, on the eve of the mall closures. The promotion led to large numbers of customers descending upon Sportland outlets, making sticking to emergency situation rules such as the 2+2 requirement virtually impossible.

Sportland closed its stores a day earlier than the mall deadline following a backlash; the company said it had simply made a mistake.

One exception to the proposed change is Saaremaa, by far the worst hit region in Estonia in the pandemic so far, whose shopping malls will not reopen, Aas said.

"Saaremaa is undoubtedly a completely separate case; all restrictions and their changes in Saaremaa are viewed completely differently there," said the minister.

Aas also said that before taking mitigation measures in general, the total number of coronavirus cases, the number of cases among people over the age of 50 and the numbers hospitalized will be reviewed.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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