Ministerial working group proposes easing COVID-19 restrictions
On 27 January, the Government’s Ministerial Working Group on COVID-19 received an update on the epidemiological situation and the authorities’ assessments of its development. The ministerial working group proposes changes to the restrictions on restaurants and low-risk facilities and events.
The spread of the Omicron variant has kept the number of infections high across Finland. Despite a drop in the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, the burden on other specialised healthcare has remained unchanged at the national level. Although there are still many cases being reported among vaccinated people, vaccines have been very effective in preventing severe forms of the disease.
The ministerial working group stresses the importance of vaccines in the current situation. Personal responsibility and COVID-safe behaviour also play a key role.
Restrictions on restaurants to be eased as suspension of COVID-19 passport continues
The ministerial working group proposes easing the restrictions on ‘lower-risk’ food and beverage service businesses. Starting on the first day of February, alcoholic beverages could be served at these establishments until 20.00, and businesses could remain open until 21.00. Low-risk establishments are restaurants whose main purpose is not to serve alcohol.
The number of customer seats in these businesses will continue to be restricted to 75 per cent of the normal maximum capacity.
For businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverages, the current restrictions will continue so that alcohol may be served until 17.00 and the doors must close at 18.00. The restrictions on the number of customer seats will also remain unchanged, meaning that only half of the normal maximum number of customers can be present at a time.
Businesses requiring COVID-19 passports as a condition for entry may not use this as a way to circumvent the restrictions on the number of customer seats, alcohol service hours or opening hours. However, restaurants still have the right to require customers to present a valid COVID-19 passport as a condition for entry.
The working group proposes that the ban on the use of COVID-19 passports as an alternative to restrictions be extended for two weeks. The Government will issue decrees on restaurant restrictions and the continued suspension of the use of the COVID-19 passports in its plenary session on Friday 28 January.
Low-risk facilities and events
The ministerial working group proposes that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health advise regional state administrative agencies and municipalities to end the full closure of low-risk facilities and events as of 1 February 2022.
Instead, the regional authorities could decide to introduce less stringent health security measures depending on the epidemiological situation in the region. Low-risk facilities and events include libraries, museums, theatres, and public events with assigned seating for all attendees.
The restrictions will be reviewed again in the week beginning on 7 February.
Hanna Hänninen, Special Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected]
Taneli Puumalainen, Director General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected]
Satu Koskela, Director General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected]