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Tallinn city government drafts bill defining what constitutes a nightclub

One of central Tallinn's nightclubs.
One of central Tallinn's nightclubs. Source: Tallinn city planning department.

Tallinn city government is to discuss Thursday the definition of nightclubs, addressing a long-standing issues with noise pollution in city center areas in particular, and also the issue of late-night alcohol sales.

As reported on ERR News, late night alcohol sales have in any case been banned since earlier in the month, as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In the normal run of things, whereas bars and cafes have to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. on weeknights (more accurately the night before weekdays, so Sunday to Thursday – ed.) and at 3 a.m. on weekend nights, nightclubs have an extra hour in both case, the rationale being they have fewer opportunities to do business during the day, and provide night-time entertainment such as music etc. 

Alcohol sales are barred until 6 a.m. under both the original regulations and the current coronavirus rules; alcohol sales in stores stop at 10 p.m. every day. 

However, the distinction between nightclubs from other entertainment establishments such as bars and pubs, as well as casinos, has not been clear, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, which can potentially mean late-night bars which operate along the lines of nightclubs will no longer be able to do so. 

Tallinn's city government is now defining a nightclub as an outlet which:

  • Is at least 450 sq m in area.
  • Requires a cover charge for entry.
  • Checks documents and personal belongings of guests on entry.
  • Provides security services both inside and outside the building, under the terms of the Security Act.
  • Is in a building which contains no dwelling places (apartments etc.), though residents' associations of buildings containing apartments can give their consent to entering the building into the land registry as accommodating a nightclub.
  • Does not have catering as its main activity.
  • Uses devices to ensure sound levels do not exceed legal levels.
  • Provides security cameras monitoring entry areas and immediate surrounds, with recordings retained for a minimum of seven days.
  • Has a separate, internal smoking room of at least 10 sq m.
  • Has two sets of doors in its main entrance.
  • Has a cloakroom with attendant.

The regulations aim to address long-standing controversy on the activity of nightclubs and late-night bars, particularly in the Old Town of Tallinn, where such outlets are often in close proximity to residences, leading to complaints. 

The city government submitted a regulation to the council chambers last November but opted in March for a further period of consultation with entrepreneurs. 

The amended draft is to be discussed at a city council sitting on September 17, with a view to entering into force on October 1.

The current late-night alcohol sales bar also applies through Harju County, and in Ida-Viru County; a ban in Tartu County was recently lifted as COVID-19 rates started to recede, and a temporary ban was put in place in Võru, Põlva and Valga counties purely to coincide with the WRC Rally Estonia of September 4-6. 


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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