Estonian Traders Association CEO Nele Peil told ERR that stores have not been given a right to check for mask-wearing and it has to be monitored by the Health Board and the Police and Border Guard Board.
"People can get into stores without masks. With this government order, stores do not have the right to check for masks. If a person enters the store without a mask, they risk getting fined if the police checks for a mask," Peil told Vikerraadio's news show "Uudis+" on Thursday.
He said stores have been calm toward these new restrictions, because the measures are not new. Every customer is subject to wear a mask, but the association is awaiting additional directives about vaccinated store employees and if they have to wear masks.
He noted that the vaccine coverage is high enough for Estonia to drop mask-wearing obligations soon. "In addition, ventilation in most stores is very good. What is even more valuable than a mask is good ventilation. The CO2 level in modern shopping malls is the same as it is outside. It is safe to move around in that environment," Peil noted.
Speaking of store employees, the association CEO said not having to wear a mask at work is a good motivator for people to get vaccinated. "There has been a rule in use in many shopping chains where vaccinated employees do not wear masks and unvaccinated employees do. I hope this motivational mechanism stays. But if the government decides that everyone must wear a mask, so be it," Peil said.
He noted that the employee mask-wearing regulation was confusing and the association hopes to gain clarity by Friday. He added that there is no exact data on how many store employees in Estonia are vaccinated currently.
"All employees are vaccinated in some stores, but there are people against vaccinating among some store owners and there might be half vaccinated. The Traders Association does not have exact data, nor do the companies themselves. You gain the right to know this during risk analyses and the employer cannot ask directly. It is not certain, if the full picture ever becomes clear for employers," Peil noted.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste