Gallery: Crowd protests Tallinn cafe forced closure

Large numbers of people congregated outside a Tallinn cafe Tuesday evening, expressing support for its owner. The Health Board (Terviseamet) has ordered the cafe, in the Kalamja district, to close, due to repeated and consistent non-compliance with current coronavirus restrictions.

ERR's Madis Hindre put the number of protesters at around a hundred (see gallery above) adding that five or six Police and Border Guard (PPA) vehicles and a number of occupants were on the scene, while a Rescue Board (Päästeamet) fire truck also arrived in order to extinguish a fire which the crowd had lit, contained inside an oil drum (see video below).

Several protesters verbally insulted PPA officials, Hindre reports, with some chanting anti-government slogans, referring to it as a dictatorship.

Organizers had also served refreshments on site, Hindre said.

PPA northern prefecture chief Joosep Kaasik told ETV current affairs show Tuesday evening "Ringvaade" that those gathered at the cafe have a right to protest, while his authority patrols the area to check on public order.

The cafe, called MEM, had been closed earlier in the day and the area surrounding it taped off. Only residents of the building housing the cafe, and the businesses' owners and staff, are permitted beyond the cordon, while the cafe has been ordered to discontinue trade.

The closing-down went smoothly, Kaasik said.

 "All in all, it went well; within twenty minutes the operations were concluded and the decision to close the café was passed on. As of now, no business activity will be permitted at this cafe for the foreseeable future," he went on.

"We always assess the situation and, since we had repeatedly checked the same place in the past and it was clear that neither the owner of the place nor its client were being very cooperative, we had to be prepared for the eventuality that this cafe closure might not go very well," Kaasik added, with reference to the show of force from the PPA.

Põhja prefekti Joosep Kaasiku intervjuu "Ringvaatele".

The cafe had racked up well over €9,000 in fines, imposed by the Health Board or the PPA due to non-compliance with restrictions, as of the week before last, while this figure was reported to have grown to €15,000 as of Tuesday.

The cafe had reportedly instructed its staff to refuse to conduct coronavirus certification and ID checks.

MEM's owner, Elvis Brauer, ran for the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) in the October local elections.

Bonfires and similar must by law be kept between eight and 15 meters from a building, depending on their size.

The protest was still in progress at the time of writing.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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