The Estonian government's decision to allow other entertainment establishments to reopen but not permit nightclubs to do so as well is incomprehensible and unfair, nightclub owners say.
According to nightclub owners, it would be no more difficult to adhere to the 2+2 rule in nightclubs than it is in bars. Both types of establishments sell alcohol, and patrons can dance at many bars as well.
"Somehow there's this idea that everyone is all together at a nightclub," said Monika Lembit, manager of the Tartu nightclub Maasikas. "In reality, they're not. They're all together when there really is just no more room for anyone and the building is packed. But if we were to operate at half capacity like others are doing, then we'd have no problem ensuring that everyone has their own space."
Ahto Kalda, the owner of Cheers nightclub in Viljandi and Level in Tartu, said that as things currently stand, nightclubs' futures are very uncertain.
"I actually haven't understood how this thing is regulated at all — what is a nightclub and what is a bar," Kalda said. "According to the business register, the field of activity is the same — serving drinks and entertainment. Is the difference in the sign on the door, then? People are still partying, and it would be much better if people partied somewhere where things were kept in check."
"Now that alcohol restrictions are being lifted on June 1 and bars and casinos will be given the opportunity to reopen, now we really feel as though it's a bit unfair that nightclubs are excluded," Lembit said.
At least one nightclub in Tartu, however, has come up with a workaround — Shooters is reopening temporarily as a bar and cafe.
"We disassembled the DJ platform and put tables on the dancefloor," Shooters Tartu manager Märt Mägi said. "I think that our clients want to see Shooters as a club, but at the moment there is just no other option but to run this gathering place in a slightly different format."
The same tactic is popular in Germany as well, for example, particularly in Berlin.
Shooters will be reopening its doors as a bar and cafe in June.
Editor: Aili Vahtla