No nationwide late-night alcohol sales bans to match those in place in Tartu and Ida-Viru counties will be put in place for the time being, the government has said.
Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) had proposed forbidding the sale of alcohol, including in nightclubs, bars and restaurants, late at night, as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Thursday.
However, this was not taken up by the cabinet, Kiik said Thursday, possibly after being overruled by interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE), who says further restrictions could propagate coronavirus hysteria.
"We reviewed the impact of the restriction on the sale of alcohol in the context of Tartu and Ida-Viru counties, and came to the conclusion that this type of national ban on the sale of alcohol is not yet to be implemented," Kiik said, adding that the government will return to the issue of the coronavirus situation worsens.
Bans on the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. have been put in place recently in Tartu County, following a COVID-19 outbreak centered on night spots in the city of Tartu from mid-July, and in Ida-Viru County, where a spate of coroanvirus cases has been traced to a bar in the town of Jõhvi, and linked to two nearby oil shale mines.
Sales of alcohol in stores is forbidden after 10 p.m. under national law in any case.
Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) says he opposes the idea of a late-night alcohol sales restriction at present, though noted the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) statements that the bans in Tartu and Ida-Viru counties had yielded positive results.
"However, I think [a ban] would send out the signal that we are out of control and have to start imposing restrictions on people. I am concerned it would lead to this type of panic effect," Helme said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte