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Increased flexibility in restrictions on food and beverage service businesses based on the epidemiological situation in the region and the main activities of the business

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 29.10.2020 15.19
Press release 254/2020

The Government decided on 29 October to impose temporary restrictions on the activities of food and beverage service businesses as of 1 November 2020. The decree was adopted under the new temporary provisions of the Communicable Diseases Act and will remain in force until 15 December 2020.*

The current requirements for food and beverage service businesses concerning guidance, hygiene practices and safe distances in customer seating will remain unchanged. Similarly, food and beverage service businesses are still subject to the existing obligations concerning the planning of their activities. 

The decree elaborates on the restrictions on the amount of customer seating in food and beverage service businesses and on opening hours and hours when alcohol can be served.
In the regions of Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Kanta-Häme, Pirkanmaa and Ostrobothnia, which are currently in the acceleration or community transmission phase of the epidemic, the amount of customer seating in businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverages is now restricted to half the normal amount. These businesses typically include pubs, bars and nightclubs.

For other food and beverage service businesses in the above-mentioned regions, the amount of customer seating is restricted to three quarters of the normal amount. These businesses typically include restaurants, cafes, fast food restaurants and pizzerias. In other parts of Finland, the number of customer seats is not restricted. 

Restrictions on opening hours and the serving of alcoholic beverages according to the epidemiological situation

In the regions of Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Kanta-Häme, Pirkanmaa and Ostrobothnia, which are currently in the acceleration or community transmission phase of the epidemic, businesses must stop serving alcoholic beverages by 22.00 at the latest. All food and beverage service businesses in Ostrobothnia must be closed by 23.00 at the latest. In the other regions listed above, businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverages must also be closed at 23.00, but other food and beverage service businesses may remain open until 24.00. 

Businesses in other parts of Finland must stop serving alcohol by 24.00 at the latest, as is currently the case. In locations outside the regions of Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Kanta-Häme, Pirkanmaa and Ostrobothnia, businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverage must close by 1.00 at the latest, but other food and beverage service businesses may be open round the clock. 

Otherwise, the decree adds flexibility to the restrictions on the opening hours of food and beverage service businesses so that businesses subject to the restrictions may reopen one hour after closing. This means that in line with the decree, a business that has stopped serving alcoholic beverages at 24.00 and must close at 1.00 may reopen as a night cafe starting at 2.00, for example.
The restrictions on opening hours do not apply to food and beverage service businesses on vessels and aircraft that operate between Finland and other countries or abroad or to food and beverage service businesses that operate at distribution stations for liquid fuels.

Going forward, if there are no COVID-19 infections in a region, the above-mentioned restrictions will be lifted altogether by amending the decree.

The Government is continuously monitoring the development of the epidemic to make sure that only those restrictions needed to prevent the spread COVID-19 are in place in each region and in the food and beverage service businesses subject to restrictions.

* Correction made on 29 October at 17.00: the decree will remain in force until 15 December 2020.

Inquiries:

Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected] 

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