Kiik puts nationwide nighttime alcohol sales restriction up for discussion

A bottle of hand sanitizer in Valli Baar in Tallinn.
A bottle of hand sanitizer in Valli Baar in Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A nationwide restriction on selling alcohol will be discussed by the government on Thursday evening as a way to curb the spread of coronavirus, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) has said.

Kiik said on Vikerraadio's Uudis + on Wednesday that at Thursday's session the government will discuss the spread of the virus in the Baltic states and the possible upcoming restrictions with Finland. One of the ideas he puts on the table is to impose a nationwide restriction on night alcohol sales in order to control the infection in the country.

Currently, nighttime restrictions on the sales of alcohol are in place in Tartu and Ida-Viru counties after outbreaks. Alcohol cannot be sold between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Several other issues will also be discussed such as sick pay and kindergarten closures.

In the spring the Estonian Health Insurance Fund paid compensation to people who remained on sick leave from the first day of illness, now it is has reverted to payment from day three, so people who have mild symptoms try to hide them and go to work. Currently, the advice from the Health Board is that anyone with symptoms should stay home.

Kiik said the government is trying to reach a solution and there will be more clarity by the autumn.

A person could also be tested for coronavirus and then go back to work after a negative test if a coworker has been diagnosed as positive - if there was no direct contact. A repeat test would then be administered seven days later.

Another issue is when a parent has to stay home because the child's kindergarten is closed. "This is the reason why we have agreed with the Board of Education that we are not going to make such closures," Kiik said, adding that there should always be some kindergarten groups where children can be taken.

Kiik said that these concerns need to be addressed, but it is not yet known which measure will be taken.

If a person has come from a country with a high infection rate and gives a negative coronavirus test, then the employer can decide which job they can and cannot do, Kiik said.

The minister said the spread of the coronavirus has primarily been caused by negligent behavior of individuals.

But Kiik said he also partially agrees with a statement given by a trade union which said confusion over the payment during isolation and maintenance days is causing the spread of the coronavirus.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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