Health Board: Limiting alcohol sales is the right choice ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Ragnar Vaiknemets speaking on
Ragnar Vaiknemets speaking on "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

The head of the Health Board's Emergency Department Ragnar Vaiknemets has said the government's decision to impose nationwide alcohol sales restrictions is the right thing to do.

Speaking on ETV's current affairs show "Esimene stuudio" on Thursday evening, Vaiknemets said the latest coronavirus numbers are worrying.

Vaiknemets mentioned virologist professor Irja Lutsar's previous message that coronavirus is a virus spread at parties and so he supports limiting alcohol sales.

He said the Health Board is currently preparing for what the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of: an increase of positive coronavirus tests, more people being treated in hospital and more deaths.

"Deriving from this, we have accepted different measures, we could say, intensified our capabilities. One of the main capabilities that was also discussed in the spring is the increase in personal protective equipment. We have stocked up, made tender contracts, and been able to bring them to Estonia immediately. We have acquired one month's supply for all healthcare providers who have a health insurance contract. This is a very big step forward in preventing the spread of the virus because we just want to keep the risk group, healthcare personnel, safe," he said.

He said that Estonia is now better prepared for the wave of the coronavirus than in the spring.

"I would like to talk about the differences between the second and first wave. In the case of the first wave, we should be able to pat ourselves on the shoulder and say that we did well, we should not immediately throw away those achievements. But we inevitably compare ourselves and cannot be compared to other countries all the time. Of course, we look at what they are doing right, what is wrong and how we can learn from it, but above all, what we can do better from our own mistakes. As a result, I believe we are better prepared in spring."

He added that as the virus stays the same, we must change people's habits and behavior. He said people should carefully wash their hands, wear masks, and socially distance.

Vaiknemets said wearing masks is an additional measure for limiting the spread of the coronavirus. In his opinion, the mask should be worn in public transport and rooms where distance can't be kept. For risk groups, wearing a mask is justified in any case.

"Every change in society requires time and getting used to. We are our own disciplinarians. The same goes for wearing masks," he added.

From Friday, September 25, a month-long ban on selling alcohol between the hours of midnight and 10 a.m. will be in place to try and stop the spread of coronavirus. Alcohol can be purchased in stores until 10 p.m.

This will affect all alcohol sales points including hotels, bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes. The most recent outbreaks of coronavirus in Estonia have occurred at private parties.

"There has been a sharp increase in the spread of COVID-19 infections in Estonia, and as a result establishing a nationwide restriction is both necessary and justified," Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) news show on Thursday. 

The ban has put in place by the government. Alcohol selling bans are already in place in Harju and Ida-Viru counties.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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