Government: Closing time restrictions will be eased for New Year's Eve

Tallinn's New Year's Eve concert in 2019-2020.
Tallinn's New Year's Eve concert in 2019-2020. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said on Thursday that the government is planning to ease the entertainment venue closing time restriction by New Year's Eve.

"In any case, for the holiday and year-end period, restrictions will be eased," Kiik said at a government press conference on Thursday.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said last week that if the coronavirus spread risk level reaches "yellow", the government can ease restrictions on entertainment venues. Estonia's risk of coronavirus spread dropped down to the required medium level a few days later, but a new variant of the virus began to spread in other parts of the world.

"Such a promise was made and we discussed it on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Omicron strain popped up. We discussed it with the scientific council [on Thursday] and agreed that they will come to the government on Monday with a position on if and how much should we fear the Omicron strain. We can make a decision on the 11 p.m. closing time restrictions then. The aim is to make that decision at the start of next week," Kallas said on Thursday.

Tanel Kiik emphasized that the vaccination certificate requirement will still be valid, regardless of any other eased restrictions.

Prime minister: Protests will not make government change orders

Kallas also commented on a protest, which took place in front of the Stenbock House on Thursday and said protests will not make the government change issued orders.

On Tuesday, the Health Board ordered OÜ MEM Cafe on Vana-Kalamaja tänav to close for business due to its repeated failure to comply with checks on coronavirus certifications. That evening, a crowd of people congregated outside the cafe, expressing support for its owner.

During the protest, the police officers present fell under an avalanche of verbal attacks with different insults being used. The protesters also found out the officers' names and began personal attacks.

Kaja Kallas said the police was just doing their job and the matter is one related to trust for the state. "Any kind of insults and provocations against the police and Health Board are very disturbing. The police has been very understanding, very calm and very mild," the prime minister said.

She added that if rules have been imposed, compliance with these rules must be ensured. "There is no reason to pour out your anger on police or Health Board officials," Kallas said.

MEM Cafe's owner, Elvis Brauer, ran for the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) in the October local elections. Kallas said that it is irresponsible of political parties to call people to break rules and hope for someone to get hurt.

"These protests will not make us change orders. The only thing that will make us change orders is if the virus spreads less and there are fewer infections," Kallas said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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