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Suspension of right of retail sale of alcoholic beverages from 00:00 to 10:00

Issuer:Government
Type:order
In force from:17.09.2020
In force until:
Translation published:20.09.2020

Suspension of right of retail sale of alcoholic beverages from 00:00 to 10:00

Passed 17.09.2020 No. 322

Under § 36 (1) 1) of the Alcohol Act and considering subsection (2) of the same section:

1. In the interests of ensuring public order, the right of retail sale of alcoholic beverages in a place of business where the retail sale of alcohol is permitted for consumption on the premises is suspended throughout the state from 00:00 to 10:00.

2. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is to promptly deliver this Order through the Register of Economic Activities to persons engaged in retail sale of alcohol.

3. Under § 49 (4) of the Alcohol Act, state supervision over compliance with requirements related to the retail sale of alcoholic beverages and restrictions on the consumption of alcoholic beverages is exercised by rural municipalities or city governments on their respective administrative territories.

4. This Order takes effect upon signing. The restriction in clause 1 takes effect on 25 September 2020 and will remain in effect up to and including 24 October 2020.

5. This Order shall be published in the official gazette Riigi Teataja and on the website kriis.ee. Broadcasters shall publish this Order promptly.

For the protection of the life and health of people and overriding public interest, this Order establishes a restriction on the freedom of enterprise for preventing the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 causing the COVID-19 disease. In the interests of ensuring public order, the right of retail sale of alcoholic beverages in places of business where the retail sale of alcohol is permitted for consumption on the premises is suspended by this Order throughout the state from 00:00 to 10:00. This restriction serves the purpose of preventing and stopping the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 causing the COVID-19 disease.

Accelerated and wider spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 causing the COVID-19 disease in Estonia and worldwide has shown that the risk of the virus spreading across the state has increased. According to the Health Board, on 17 September 2020 the morbidity rate per 100,000 inhabitants for the past 14 days was 25.36. In comparison, the same figure was 4.4 on 1 August 2020 and 8.4 on 15 August 2020. The steep rise in the spread of the infection is primarily due to centres of infection that originated in Tartu and Ida-Viru County catering establishments engaged in the sale of alcohol. Currently, no new cases have been registered during the past 14 days only in Järva, Valga, Põlva and Hiiu Counties. Moreover, the past 14 days have revealed 31 infected persons whose place of residence has not yet been determined at local authority level.

Restrictions targeting the consumption of alcohol are justified because consumption of alcohol weakens people’s immune system and thereby their bodies’ resistance to infectious diseases. Consuming large quantities of alcohol increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most serious complications of COVID-19. Also, consuming alcohol alters a person’s behaviour, including diminishes their sense of danger and encourages risk behaviour, and increases the probability of people not complying with rules of conduct set for preventing the spread of the virus. Furthermore, retail sale for consumption on the premises extends the time spent indoors. The above, in turn, means an increased risk of infecting other people, among others and above all in places where people stay for an extended period of time. Therefore, it is justified that the restriction imposed during the emergency situation as of 17 March 2020 and thereafter is imposed once again throughout the state in places of business where retail sale of alcohol is permitted for consumption on the premises.

There is no other efficient way to achieve the objective of reduced availability of alcoholic beverages. There are no means that would restrict the availability of alcoholic beverages and reduce the risk of the virus spreading as a result of indoor consumption of alcoholic beverages the same, but that would restrict the rights of economic operators less. Considering the current spread of the infection, evidence showing that infected persons and people who have been in close contact with them visited recreational and catering establishments where it is possible to buy alcohol for consumption on the premises, and centres of infection that have been brought along by this kind of behaviour and that have spread, among others, into places of employment, the most efficient measure for slowing the continued spread of the disease down is to impose this restriction throughout the state, not on the territory of a single local authority.

Having regard to the aforesaid and the current situation, the restriction is necessary and proportional. Under § 11 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (hereinafter the Constitution), rights and freedoms may only be circumscribed in accordance with the Constitution. Such circumscription must be necessary in a democratic society and may not distort the nature of the rights and freedoms circumscribed. The principle of proportionality arises from the second sentence of § 11 of the Constitution, according to which circumscription of rights and freedoms must be necessary in a democratic society. In this case, imposing the restriction is in the public interest and it is imposed throughout the state, which means that all economic operators and individuals affected by the imposition of the restriction are in the same situation and nobody is treated differently.

Under § 61 (1) of the Administrative Procedure Act, an administrative act is in force as of notification thereof or delivery to the addressee, unless a later entry into force is prescribed in the administrative act.  Therefore, the Order requires the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to deliver the Order to the addressees. Since economic operators engaged in retail sale of alcohol are registered in the Register of Economic Activities, the Order can be delivered by using said channel. According to § 27 (2) 3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, a document made available or transmitted by electronic means is deemed to be delivered when the document or notice on making the document available has been forwarded to the e-mail address of a company entered in the commercial register. Pursuant to § 36 (2) of the Alcohol Act, if the right of retail sale of alcoholic beverages is suspended throughout the state, throughout a county or throughout the administrative territory of a local government, the holder of the right of retail sale of alcoholic beverages shall be notified thereof immediately through the media. Therefore, the Order also requires broadcasters to publish the Order immediately.

This Order takes effect upon signature, subject to the specification that the restriction on retail sale of alcohol takes effect on 25 September 2020, giving the persons concerned the minimum amount of time necessary for re-arranging their activities and duly complying with the Order.

Failure to duly comply with measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 causing the COVID-19 disease will prompt the application of the administrative coercive measures set out in § 28 (2) or (3) of the Law Enforcement Act. According to § 23 (4) of the Law Enforcement Act, the amount of penalty payment is 9600 euros. This penalty payment, which serves the purpose of enforcing the restrictions imposed by this Order and preventing the spread of the virus, may be imposed repeatedly.

This Order can be appealed against by filing a challenge with the Government of the Republic pursuant to the procedure provided by the Administrative Procedure Act within 30 days as of the day the relevant person became or should have become aware of the Order. This Order can also be appealed against by filing an action with the administrative court pursuant to the procedure provided for in the Code of Administrative Court Procedure within 30 days as of the day of announcement of this Order.

Jüri Ratas
Prime Minister

Taimar Peterkop
Secretary of State

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