Ministry mulls restaurant customer registration as COVID- 19 precaution

Maris Jesse.
Maris Jesse. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Restaurants, cinemas, theaters and other public spaces may soon start taking down contact details of visitors, to facilitate rapid contact if an individual or individuals later found to be carrying the coronavirus were present at the same time, undersecretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs Maris Jesse told daily newspaper Eesti Päevaleht.

If an infection is traced to a theater or other public space, the Health Board (Terviseamet) needs to know who was seated next to, or came into contact with, those infected, and the quicker the board has access to this information, the quicker it can inform people, Jesse told the paper (link in Estonian).

Jesse said that several countries are already implementing similar techniques, where those visiting theaters or cinemas provide their contact information, which is saved for a certain period of time.

"If the data is not needed, it is deleted, but if, for example, on August 18, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., there was an infected in a restaurant, people who were dining there at that time will be contacted," Jesse said.

"Currently, we are at a stage where we are starting to discuss the Health Board not only having the right to make public appeals to the clients, but also to those businesses and institutions who had served them. We are looking into the legal possibilities," Jesse explained.

"If you have to choose between a personalized visit to a restaurant - which will be known by the restaurant for two to three weeks in the absence of an infected case - and whether the restaurant will be closed or transforms into a home delivery service provider, these are the choices available. We really want to avoid general restrictions as much as possible."


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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