Bill boosting police scope in COVID-19 monitoring passes second reading

Riigikogu main chamber.
Riigikogu main chamber. Source: Erik Peinar / riigikogu

A bill which would beef up authorities' powers in monitoring compliance with coronavirus restrictions has passed its second Riigikogu reading. The bill met with public protests in central Tallinn last month.

The bill would amend legislation, namely the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act, to give the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and other law enforcement agencies the right to be involved in monitoring or enforcing tasks carried out by the Health Board (Terviseamet), should the board apply for help.

The law as it stands had not codified this interface, while the amendments should streamline it. The draft would give the government the ultimate say in whether a Health Board appeal for PPA involvement should go ahead, while more detailed conditions and procedures would be outlined in a government order.

The bill would also make failure to adhere to Health Board requirements, such as mask-wearing or gatherings whose numbers exceed current restrictions, punishable as a misdemeanor offense.

Up to now only violation of quarantine had been punishable. Fines up of up to €400 can be issued to individuals, or €13,000 in the case of organizations, a reduction on the original levels of €800 and €32,000 respectively.

Another amendment concerned sick pay, whose wording had already been duplicated in another law, so this was struck off altogether.

The bill will require a third Riigikogu reading, before being sent off to the president for her assent.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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