Justice chancellor: Mask obligation must be met, even if you don't like it

A government sign urging people to wear a mask on a shopping center door.
A government sign urging people to wear a mask on a shopping center door. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The obligation to wear a mask and to follow social distancing rules enforced by private entrepreneurs, such as in shopping malls, must be followed, the Chancellor of Justice has said. If people disagree, they should go to court.

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise said when restrictions are created they must be followed and if anyone has any doubts about the legality of a restriction it is possible to go to an administrative court to assess it.

If the order is found to be illegal, the court can revoke the restriction but the Chancellor of Justice has no such right.

The Health Board, assisted by the police, can check if people follow the rules and a maximum penalty of €9,600 can be imposed, and more than once, if rules are not complied with.

Madise said a person who has been given a fine has the right to go to court: "The court can check whether the preconditions for the application of coercive measures are met, whether the type of coercion and the manner of its application are proportionate and there is no circumstance precluding the application of coercion."

A private company also has the right to demand a mask be worn on their premises, Madise said, and this is enforced by security guards.

This right is based on the fundamental right to property and the freedom to conduct business. Disputes with a private company are settled either by agreement or in civil proceedings in county courts.

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) supervise the activities of security guards. Details can be found in the Security Act. Madise said the Chancellor of Justice has no authority to control the activities of shopping center owners, shopkeepers and security staff.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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