AK: Mask-wearing regulation in malls generally observed so far

Shoppers at Viru Keskus in Tallinn.
Shoppers at Viru Keskus in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The mask-wearing requirement in shopping malls which came back into effect Thursday seems to have been well observed, based on the situation on the ground at three Tallinn malls. The government order this time does not stipulate that businesses are responsible for policing mask-wearing themselves, and the Health Board (Terviseamet) has boosted powers, including the right to issue fines for non-compliance.

The Health Board says it will be conducting mask-wearing spot checks in public spaces and on public transport after Thursday's restrictions change, which makes the wearing of face-masks in indoor public spaces such as stores mandatory.

Margit Kallas, head of the board's Northern Regional Department, said: "The Health Board first of all reminds people of this obligation to wear masks and, above all, hopes for the understanding attitude of the people here."

Fines of up to €400 for non-compliance may be handed out where necessary, Kallas added.

Wearing a face-mask had been a requirement on public transport for several weeks now.

AK found opinions varied among shoppers at the Ülemiste Keskus mall, south of Tallinn city center.

One, Sandra, said that: "I think if I have to protect the general population, I'm ready to wear it. This mask doesn't bother me."

Another, Argo, said he thought that vaccinated people shouldn't be required to wear one. "Although I have a mask as it is, if mall security approaches me, I would most likely say yes [to wearing one]."

Jaan, another shopper, told AK that: "Every opportunity must be used to somehow slow down this spread. If this is one such measure, then why not."

Tiia Nõmme, marketing manager at Ülemiste Keskus, said quite strict supervision was in place, now wearing a mask was mandatory and not just recommended. 

She said: "The situation now is different in the sense that it is an order of the Government of the Republic of Estonia which stipulates the obligation to wear a mask in public spaces, and this means that people must then ensure that they comply with this law."

In any case malls are not obliged to check adherence themselves, it is reported, unlike in spring this year.

Kristjan Maaroos, head of the Kristiine and Rocca al Mare malls in the west of Tallinn, said that the centers were taking relatively liberal approach to their own enforcement for this reason and also because the public seemed aware of the government order..

"Based on today's experience, half-way through the day, it can be said that the situation is surprisingly good, as we had in fact assumed that after the summer period, when people had gotten out of the habit of wearing masks, it would take a long time to regain that," Maaroos told AK.

Another major Tallinn mall, the Viru Keskus, in the city center (pictured) is undergoing refurbishment works, meaning many businesses are temporarily closed, though the mall also in effect provides a covered thoroughfare between Tammsaare Park and Laikmaa street.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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