PPA finds handful of weekend nighttime venues breaking new COVID-19 rules ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Partygoers (picture is illustrative).
Partygoers (picture is illustrative). Source: Martin Dremljuga/ERR

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) discovered around a dozen infractions of the latest coronavirus restrictions over the weekend, following raids on nearly 150 clubs, bars, private party rooms and similar facilities in Tallinn and northern Estonia alone.

Egert Belitšev, head of the PPA's crisis center, warned of the risks engendered by flaunting the rules.

He said: "The public themselves, as well as the owners of entertainment outlets, are definitely advised to think about whether in the current circumstances, where hundreds of new coronavirus cases are being added every day in Estonia, the potential risks might outweigh the reasons for organizing gatherings."

From Saturday, entertainment outlets have to close their doors at 10 p.m. Previously, they had been allowed to run until 12 p.m., and prior to that, they had simply had to stop serving alcohol at that time, but could remain open.

Indoor events are limited to 50 percent capacity of 250 attendees, whichever is lower.

Belitšev stressed that most business owners and their clients had stuck to the rules.

"Across Estonia, the situation was largely calm, and we were able to see that the owners of entertainment facilities understand the need for both restrictions and protecting their customers' health."

One central Tallinn bar owner told ERR News that Tallinn's Christmas market had continued to sell alcohol beyond the 10 p.m. deadline, however, providing photographic evidence (see below).

 

Crowds in Tallinn's Raekoja plats Saturday night. Source: John Hardie

 

Crowds in Tallinn's Raekoja plats Saturday night. Source: John Hardie
Crowds in Tallinn's Raekoja plats Saturday night. Source: John Hardie

Egert Belitšev of the PPA added that there had been some lack of awareness of the latest restrictions, with patrons continuing to drink alcohol even beyond midnight, as well as some smaller parties which needed wrapping up.

Around 50 venues were checked in the PPA's southern prefecture, including the second city of Tartu, with many checks also conducted in the other two (eastern and western) prefectures.

The PPA says alcohol consumption as well as large gatherings can spread COVID-19, as inhibitions tend to drop in direct proportion to intoxication.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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