'AK. Nädal': Theaters and restaurants can't wait to open their doors

Fotografiska restaurant in Tallinn.
Fotografiska restaurant in Tallinn.

From May, several restrictions are being relaxed, but at the same time, there are still several areas where regulations that were meant to be eased from April 26 have been extended. Both theaters and spas are disappointed, since they were ready to open, adhering to the strict safety measurements, ETV current affairs weekly news show "AK. Nädal", reported Sunday.

Cafes and restaurants are happy about the outdoor terraces opening but admit that this won't be easy financially.

Whereas shopping centers are allowed to open their doors from May 3, theaters can't do so, which causes great disappointment and also frustration about communication levels.

"Nobody in the theatre field understands why the same mistakes happen in communication again and again. Both the numbers and our knowledge about the virus have reached a level where decisions need to be prepared for. The government can make the decisions and discussions somewhere, but what has been decided, should be communicated," head of the Estonian Puppet and Youth Theater, Joonas Tartu, said.

Tartu says he doesn't understand why theaters can't be allowed just a quarter of the occupancy in the theater halls, when shops and sports halls are opened. He confirmed that theaters are prepared to ensure 25 percent occupancy.

The premiere meant to have taken place in May was postponed to June, because old debts deriving from the restrictions need to be dealt with.

"Where is the queue where classes and schools and teachers are saying please play the show in this season, we really want to see it," Tartu said.

To deal with debts, audiences need to be seated in the halls before summer, while the Youth Theater is planning tour one single play on the road through summer.

The Estonian Drama Theater in Tallinn is also planning to open at the end of April.

"We have done everything we could have to open. We have renovated the ventilation, dispersed all cafes in the buildings, ensured 50 percent occupancy, distributing masks and not letting people in the halls without masks," Rein Oja, the theater's chief, said.

Tickets for the shows which were meant to take place in April are now sold for May, in the hope that relaxations on restrictions will be forthcoming.

"We have extended our season. We will continue playing in June, will start earlier in August. We have postponed a lot of shows to August-September," Oja said.

The Drama Theater is playing several summer plays, and the tickets have been selling very fast.

"We should have had one play in summer but we are now doing three. And will play more than we have usually played in summer. "Eesti matus" has been completely sold out with 50 percent occupancy. It is very complicated to add anything there, we are really hoping that we can sell all the tickets because it's an outdoor play," Oja noted.

At the same time, theaters were hoping to open the doors in May based on the White book composed by the government. That didn't happen. Thus, theaters can't be sure about anything, especially matters regarding indoor spaces.

From May 3, restaurants and cafes can open their outdoor terraces. This chance has been long-awaited.

Tiina Kõresoo, owner of Salt restaurant in the center city is glad the terraces are opening but notes that the uncertain weather will start to play a huge role in this.

"This also means uncertain service. We will never know whether we can open the terrace or not. We can't predict or order the food because it can rain in the evening and the ordered food won't be used," Kõresoo said.

Kõresoo's other restaurant, Brasserie, is also preparing for opening the outdoor terrace. There, food isn't sold to go, which will leave the weather to decide completely. Unlike at Salt, employees have left, and the restaurant is currently looking for new staff.

"We will definitely start with the minimum team and currently, owners have it a lot themselves to come through this situation," Kõresoo noted.

In Haapsalu city, most places have offered food to go. Hapsal Dietrich decided to not do it and has been closed. The cafe says it is happy about being able to open the terraces.

"We have seen since last spring that people are keeping distance. They always wear masks and are still afraid. When they can sit outside then I think they are more likely to come. We are delighted to be able to open the terraces," Mary-Liis Kaabel, head of the restaurant, told AK.

Dietrich's employees are still there and ready to start working. "We have 10 people in the team, there are we haven't made any redundancies. We have such a great team, we couldn't lose anybody and last summer helped us a lot when internal tourism was very active," Kaabel said.

Spas can also open their outdoor terraces soon. Hotels belonging to one chain - Grand Rose Spa, Meresuu Spa and Viimsi Spa- will continue offering housing and beauty services.

Narva-Jõesuu's hotel has done the best. "I think the main reason is the sandy beaches at Narva-Jõesuu, the great weather. The guests are mainly from inside Estonia, primarily business clients," Grand Rose Spa sales assistant, Kristjan Ader, said.

Spa and sauna centers are prepared to open their doors as soon as it is allowed.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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