Estonian Chamber of Commerce, Industry against alcohol sale restrictions in Tallinn

  • 2019-10-17
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry does not support the plan of the City of Tallinn to restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages in the capital.

Namely, Tallinn has come to the conclusion that the city needs greater restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages in order to ensure better public order, value the urban environment and preserve the health of the citizens. In addition, the city also wants restrictions to prevent children and adolescents from being exposed to alcohol stores and drinkers in order to reduce the effects of alcohol on children and young people.

According to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the purpose of the restrictions is noble, but the restrictions themselves are unjustified, incomprehensible and disproportionate, creating unequal treatment between business operators.

The City of Tallinn plans to ban the sale of alcohol in recreational facilities from 2 a.m. on weekday nights and 3 a.m. on nights before days off. The restrictions are intended to take effect from June 2020 to give businesses sufficient time to reorganize their activities. Pursuant to the Law Enforcement Act, the restrictions would not apply on the nights preceding Jan. 1, Feb. 25 and June 24.

The city also wants liquor stores to be located at least 150 meters away from childcare institutions.

The Chamber said that it is incomprehensible what has been assumed as the basis for finding that these kinds of restrictions are the most appropriate solution, and what is the basis for the view that stopping alcohol sales at such times does not have a disproportionately negative impact on business operators.

The Chamber also said that there is no doubt that local authorities need to deal with citizens who consume alcohol in the public space. However, this is a complex problem and the Chamber therefore questions whether these measures can solve it.

In addition, director general of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mait Palts, in a letter sent to Tallinn Deputy Mayor Aivar Riisalu asked whether the city government in planning the establishment of restrictions has also assessed the impact of time restrictions on consumption. "The danger that, before the restriction enters into force, a larger amount will be bought in advance and will also be consumed? We also saw similar behavior with border trade and excise hikes -- instead of the hoped decrease in consumption, it rose," Palts said.

The Chamber also highlighted that in recent years, alcohol advertising and availability have already been severely restricted. "Have these changes not had the expected impact? The effects of these restrictions should also be clarified before imposing further restrictions," the director general said.

"The essence of entrepreneurial freedom is not to create unjustified obstacles to entrepreneurship. When imposing any restriction, it is necessary to analyze its impact and interference with the freedom to conduct a business. Infringement of the rights of entrepreneurs must be well-justified in accordance with the Constitution, which has not been done in the context of these restrictions," Palts added.

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