Scientific council does not recommend nationwide alcohol sales restrictions

The Scientific Council advising the government does not recommend establishing nationwide restrictions on nighttime alcohol sales which Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik has suggested to stop the spread of coronavirus. The government will discuss the recommendations of the Scientific Council and make a decision on Thursday evening.

The Scientific Council believes restrictions should only be introduced in areas which have a high infection rate.

The council, chaired by Virology Professor Irja Lutsar, has said restrictions should be applied differently in high and sparsely populated areas. In areas such as Tallinn, they should be introduced when the infection rate rises above 16 per 100,000 inhabitants as a two week average. In rural areas, they could be introduced when the rate goes above 25 per 100,000.

Currently, the coronavirus infection rate in Tallinn is 15.99 per 100,000 people.

"On the one hand, the council does not recommend drinking alcohol in any way, but on the other hand, we recommended a focused approach," Lutsar told ERR. 

According to the council, the duration of the initial restriction on the sale of alcohol should be 30 days.

However, a special approach should be applied to big events, such as the WRC rally in southern Estonia, where the risk of infection is higher. 

Then, at night, the sale of alcohol in the area of ​​the event should also be restricted if it can be seen that people are gathering and it is clear that other measures will not be able to limit alcohol consumption at the event.

Currently, alcohol sales restrictions are in place between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. in Ida-Viru, Tallinn, Tartu, Põlva, Võru and Valga counties. Tallinn, Tartu and Ida-Viru counties have recently had clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks which started and spread in bars and nightclubs. The selling ban was introduced earlier this week.

Yesterday, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise said the bans on late-night alcohol sales in bars, restaurants and nightclubs do not comply with the law in terms of their enforcement by the Police and Border Guard Board. Those who feel their rights have been violated would have a case at an administrative court, she said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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