One by One, Some Cities Re-Ban Public Alcohol Consumption


Just two months after a change to national legislation made it legal to drink alcohol in most public places, Tallinn plans to clamp down again. The southern town of Elva already instituted a local ban.

"If we want to be the Nordics and protect our national health, we have to again make public drinking something that is looked down on," said Mayor Edgar Savisaar in the city-funded paper, Pealinn. "At one point, Tallinn was the first to ban night-time sales of alcohol, which forced the national government to follow Tallinn's way."

In that case, back in 2008, alcohol continued to be sold past the cut-off time in neighboring municipalities. Later on, Parliament voted to make the alcohol purchasing hours 10:00-22:00 for the whole country.

Deputy Mayor Kalle Klandorf said the look of the city had degraded since the the open container law was lifted nationwide on July 1. He said 75 percent of domestic violence was due to alcohol. He raised the specter of parents and grandparents gathering on playgrounds to drink in the mornings, as he said he had witnessed in Pskov, Russia.

The Tallinn city government plans to introduce a bill to the city council, on which it has a majority, this week.

In Elva, the 16-member city council voted nearly unanimously last night to ban drinking in public everywhere in the town. The town's membership in the Estonian Healthy CIties network was cited as a reason for going beyond the scope of the original measure presented to city council: to ban alcohol consumption only in recreational areas.

Loksa and Sillamäe also plan local ordinances to curb public drinking.

However, many cities maintain there is little problem due to the lifting of the open container ban, which was not heavily enforced when it was in place. The university town Tartu, where having a beer in Pirogov Park on a sunny day is practically a pastime, is perhaps the most liberal. Haapsalu, Valga and Saue are others unlikely to pass local ordinances, Postimees reported earlier this summer.

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