The government of Estonia has re-established the late night alcohol sales ban, as COVID-19 cases started to rise rapidly following the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in the country.

The Estonian government has approved a late night alcohol sales ban which will take effect in the night from September 24 to 25, 2020. The policy will ban alcohol sales between 12:00 AM and 10:00 AM daily until October 24. The government plans to assess the situation and whether the late night alcohol sales ban will need to be continued, one week prior its expiration.

Due to the national alcohol sales ban, regional bans on the late night sale of alcohol imposed by the Police and Border Guard Board will expire on September 25, at 12:00 AM. Local governments will be responsible for implementing the national ban in the counties.

Previously, Estonia banned nighttime sales of alcohol between 10:00 PM and 10:00 AM from March 18, 2020 in all establishments. This ban was lifted on June 1, 2020.

The sharp increase in COVID-19 infections has led the government to re-establish the ban to contain the COVID-19 spread. According to the Health Board, as of September 17, 2020, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days rose to 25.36. By comparison, on August 1, 2020, the same indicator was 4.4.

The government has reported that the accelerated spread of the coronavirus was significantly caused by outbreaks that started in bars in Tartu and Ida-Viru counties.

Alcohol use has been found to affect people’s behaviors in ways that threaten protective health guidelines such as mask use and physical distancing. People gathering in large groups, ignoring health guidelines, to consume alcohol leads to increased spread of the virus.

There has been a sharp increase in the spread of COVID-19 infection in Estonia; therefore, it is necessary and justified to re-establish a nationwide restriction,” said Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister, as per Republic of Estonia Government News.

Unfortunately, alcohol consumption affects people’s behavior in a way that can promote the spread of the virus,” added the Prime Minister.

Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia

The late night alcohol sales ban by the Estonian government is in line with the recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) to restrict access to alcohol during the pandemic. WHO recommends this because alcohol increases risk of COVID-19 infections in the community and alcohol is known to weaken the immune system and is also linked with many non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that aggravate COVID-19 progression.

Source Website: Republic of Estonia Government News