Restaurant owners blame 'low turnover' on vaccination certificates

A coronavirus vaccination certificate displayed on a mobile phone.
A coronavirus vaccination certificate displayed on a mobile phone. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Entertainment establishments in Tallinn believe their earnings have fallen after the introduction of coronavirus certificates, but statistics from the tax office show business is recovering well.

On Monday, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) spoke with restaurant owners and others about business turnover after the introduction of coronavirus certificates in August.

It was estimated trade had fallen by approximately a third and is believed to be linked to the low vaccination rate. Only 66 percent of adults have been vaccinated at least once in Estonia.

Tiina Kõresoo, hostess at restaurant Salt, said the business now offers coronavirus testing on the door to attract more customers.

She told AK the large number of people who do not have proof of vaccination or recovery is behind a fall in revenue.

"I would say it is somewhere around 30 percent. It has definitely been noticeable, restaurants are especially vulnerable after a long period of suffering," Kõresoo said.

Heili Mäeveer-Le Masne, owner of French bistro Frenchy in Telliskivi, said tourists have been put at ease by having to show certificates. Especially if they come from a country with stricter rules in place.

"We were afraid of the worse at first, but it can now be said that people have responded quite well," said Mäeveer-Le Masne. "When the restaurant is busy and they come in the door, people do not turn away. They know everyone has shown a corona pass."

However, she also detected a fall in business in August of at least 30 percent. "There are still very few people visiting each week," she said.

The impact has also been felt at the cinema. Ranno Viikmaa, commercial manager of Forum Cinemas, said there has been a 40 percent fall in visitors since August.

"But it was not the normal level in August either. The problem is still the low level of people vaccinated. The reality is that only half [of people] have been vaccinated. Half of the customers were simply taken away," Viikmaa said.

The Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association echoed the same concerns at a meeting with the Ministry of Finance on Monday.

Members also want to know when restrictions will be totally removed which the government has said is linked to the vaccination rate.

"Whether this rate is 80 or 75 or 90 percent, it would definitely be a good indication. We do not want to have to demand corona passes for life," said Killu Maidla, the head of the union.

However, statistics do not reflect restaurant owners' concerns. AK asked the Tax and Customers Board for turnover figures for the catering sector. These showed a fairly quick recovery.

Before the pandemic in August 2019, the turnover of the Estonian catering sector was €65.2 million, falling to €57 million last year.

In August 2021, the total turnover declared was €62 million. Approximately 5 percent below pre-crisis levels.

One difference between the years is that Estonia currently has a higher than usual rate of inflation.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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