AK: PPA, Health Board to crack-down on businesses flaunting covid rules

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) hi-vis jacket.
Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) hi-vis jacket. Source: PPA

Regulations on checking customer-facing businesses' compliance with coronavirus regulations, most importantly the requirement to check coronavirus vaccine certification, are to be stepped up, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Wednesday night, based on the rationale that recent government announcements have both clarified the situation and given the impetus for the crack-down.

Both the PPA and the Health Board (Terviseamet) have the authority to order businesses not complying with restrictions adequately to close, while checking coronavirus certification and that businesses are imposing checks on their customers will be the main focus.

PPA chief Elmar Vaher told AK that: "We have done quite a bit [of checking coronavirus certification], and it has been a conscious choice, as the change cannot be abrupt and must be seen in the light of the situation."

"As of now the situation is bad and getting worse; hospitals are full of patients, normal treatment is being hampered," he continued.

From Monday, the government has ordered that the public provide coronavirus certification if they want to enter a wide range of different entertainment, sporting, educational and cultural facilities.

Elmar Vaher nonetheless said that both his authority and the Health Board will come down hard on businesses flaunting the rules.

He said "If necessary, the Health Board also has sufficient competence to close up a business. What exactly this closure will look like and how it will take place, is an ongoing discussion, while the experts are currently agreeing on a battle plan," Vaher said.

The PPA had previously checked compliance with face-mask-wearing in public transport and in stores, AK reported, at least at times when the rule was in place.

The Health Board's Deputy Director General, Mari-Anne Härma, told AK that use of a forged coronavirus certificate could carry with it a two-year jail sentence, while businesses willfully failing to conduct certification checks could be fined up to €13,000, with closure an option for repeat offenders.

Both authorities say they will also follow what they referred to as "hybrid tactics", meaning making use of members of the public informing them of non-compliance with the regulations, while certain businesses known for avowedly opposing regulations are also in focus.

Härma said: "Partly on the basis of complaints, partly on the basis of social media statements, these places have been selected; they have also simply been identified by passers-by in some cases."

"There are restaurants that are principled opponents, they don't allow [certification checking]; there are [also] sports clubs involved in long-running disputes. Now that the messages are from the government are clearer, these cases will be resolved faster," Härma said.

Härma also said the authority for the board's activities going forward in monitoring coronavirus compliance arise from legislation - the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act. (amended earlier this year – ed.),  in addition to government orders not subject to a Riigikogu vote.

Härma also pointed out that areas with lower coronvirus rates were also very much in focus, given the danger infection presents to the elderly and other at-risk groups.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) announced that from the following Monday, October 25, proof of a recent negative coronavirus test would no longer be an acceptable document in gaining access to a public event or business.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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