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Temporary provisions of Communicable Diseases Act on restrictions concerning food and beverage service businesses to remain in force until end of June 2021

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
4.2.2021 14.06
Press release 26/2021

On 4 February, the Government submitted to Parliament a proposal for an act on temporarily amending the Communicable Diseases Act. The amendment would extend the validity of the provisions on restrictions concerning food and beverage service businesses, namely restaurants, bars and cafes. The current Act on Temporarily Amending the Communicable Diseases Act is in force until 28 February 2021. When submitting the legislative proposal, the Government stated that consultations with the authorities and stakeholders would be launched for the purpose of drawing up a legislative proposal for tighter restrictions.

The restrictions concerning the activities of food and beverage service businesses were temporarily added to the Communicable Diseases Act, under section 58a, in May. Now the validity of the Act on Temporarily Amending the Communicable Diseases Act and the temporary section would be extended, without changing their content, from 1 March 2021 to 30 June 2021.

The provisions must remain in force so that the general obligations regarding the activities of food and beverage service businesses will remain in force after February and the Government can lay down further provisions on more specific restrictions by decree. The decree and restrictions are based on the Government’s hybrid strategy, which aims to curb the epidemic effectively while minimising the adverse impact on people, businesses, society and the exercise of fundamental rights.

Government: further measures are needed

In connection with the government proposal, the Government approved a statement, which was entered in the minutes. According to the statement, the Government proposal for temporarily amending the Communicable Diseases Act aims to ensure that at least the current restrictions concerning the activities of food and beverage service businesses will remain in force after the expiry of the current provisions on 28 February 2021.

Due to the prevailing and anticipated epidemiological situation, the Government will start consultations with the authorities and stakeholders on a legislative proposal for tighter restrictions. The aim is to introduce, in tier 2 of the action plan for the Government's hybrid strategy, necessary and proportionate restrictive measures concerning the activities of food and beverage service businesses.

Restrictions and obligations already laid down remain in force

The content of the legislative proposal submitted to Parliament corresponds to the current provisions. Food and beverage service businesses would have to follow specific hygiene requirements and be able to maintain sufficient physical distances between customers. The Government may continue to lay down provisions on the restrictions concerning the opening and licensing hours, numbers of customers and use of indoor spaces by decree. 

Food and beverage service businesses would be required to draw up a plan on how to implement the restrictions and obligations. The plan and the maximum permitted number of customers would have to be displayed where customers can see them.

The Regional State Administrative Agencies would have the task of overseeing compliance with the restrictions and obligations. These Agencies could order any shortcomings and deficiencies to be put right and they could also order an establishment to be closed to customers immediately for up to a month if there is a significant violation of the obligations.

The restrictions laid down in the Act would not apply to staff restaurant activities, take-away food and beverages, or food and beverage service businesses operating in connection with service stations. Restaurants of ships and airplanes travelling between Finland and other countries or operating abroad would also be excluded from the restrictions.

Changes to previous restrictions in Åland and Ostrobothnia and in the Hospital District of East Savo 

On 4 February, the Government also amended the decree restricting the activities of food and beverage service businesses owing to the COVID-19 epidemic. The amendment to the decree will enter into force on 6 February at 00.00.

In the regions of Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso, Ostrobothnia and North Ostrobothnia, food and beverage service businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverages will be allowed to serve alcohol between 7.00 and 22.00 and be open between 5.00 and 23.00. The amount of customer seating will be restricted to half the maximum number of seats. In other restaurants, the serving of alcoholic beverages will be permitted between 7.00 and 22.00 and they may be open between 5.00 and 23.00. They will be allowed to seat 75% of their normal number of customers.

In the regions of Pirkanmaa, Satakunta, South Karelia, Central Finland, South Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia, Kainuu, Lapland, North Karelia and South Savo, food and beverage service businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverages will be allowed to serve alcohol between 7.00 and 22.00. They may be open between 24.00 and 23.00 and seat half of their normal number of customers. In other restaurants the serving of alcoholic beverages will be permitted between 7.00 and 22.00, they may be open between 1.00 and 24.00 and they will be allowed to seat 75% of their normal number of customers.

In North Savo and Åland, the number of customer seats in restaurants will not be restricted. Restaurants that primarily serve alcoholic beverages will be allowed to serve alcohol between 7.00 and 24.00 and they may be open between 2.00 and 1.00. In other restaurants, the serving of alcoholic beverages will also be permitted between 7.00 and 24.00, but the opening hours will not be restricted.

The amendments to the decree therefore concern the region of Ostrobothnia and the Hospital District of East Savo, where the current restrictions were tightened. Previously, the restrictions corresponding to the acceleration phase applied only to the area of the Hospital District of South Savo in the region of South Savo. In Åland, the current restrictions were eased. 

Inquiries:

Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]

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