Mandatory mask-wearing compliance monitoring, fining still unclear

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Mannequins with masks. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

When the fine for not wearing a mask in a situation which mandates it has been announced, the question of actually issuing the fines and monitoring compliance with the restrictions remains. The Health Board (Terviseamet) has no plans to go out on patrols due to its workload, but the police can't fine the public for that infringement, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

From Tuesday, November 24, failing to wear a mask in public areas can theoretically bring with it a hefty fine. At the same time, it is not clear how compliance with the mask requirement will be monitored.

Head of the Kristiine and Rocca Al Mare shopping malls Kristjan Maaroos says that even though the legal side is not quite clear, it is expected that the direct monitoring will be carried out by the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the municipal police, at least in Tallinn (MuPo). "We will remind people to wear masks. At the same time, it should be considered how many people we have visiting here every day. We will definitely reach everybody," Maaroos said.

The Health Board's coronavirus "detectives" are also not going to be involved in monitoring in malls and on public transport. However, the board is still responsible for controlling compliance with the requirements, ERR reports.

If the Health Board asks help from the PPA, an officer on the ground cannot actually fine anyone.

The PPA's Northern Prefect chief Kristian Jaani said that if a patrol comes across a violation of a restriction, it is their task to record the violation, explain and send the material to a municipality or to the Health Board, who can then decide on the fine.

While passengers with masks on made up the visible majority of Tallinn's public transport passenger complement on Monday afternoon, Deputy Mayor Andrei Novikov (Center) said that greater legal clarity regarding the mask obligation is needed.

"We have already received the first feedback, where people have been asking on what legal basis we are requiring them to wear masks. So we also have a strong need for legal clarity," Novikov said.

The PPA says it hopes to agree with the Health Board and the government on Tuesday as to how compliance with the new restrictions will be monitored.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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