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Restrictions on restaurant operations and exercise of powers under the Emergency Powers Act will continue

Government Communications DepartmentMinistry of Economic Affairs and EmploymentMinistry of Education and CultureMinistry of Social Affairs and Health 31.3.2020 17.11 | Published in English on 31.3.2020 at 21.05
Press release 201/2020

On 31 March, the Government issued a decree restricting the operations of restaurants throughout the country.

All restaurants must be closed starting from Saturday 4 April 2020. The restrictions will remain in force until the end of May. The restrictions apply to all restaurant operations except for preparing food for take away and for delivery by food couriers. The restrictions do not apply to canteens or restaurants that are essential for food supply such as canteens in schools, hospitals and similar establishments, or personnel restaurants that serve in-house personnel only.

The Government submitted the decree to Parliament for an ex post examination. Parliament is scheduled to decide on the validity of the decree on Friday. Parliament may not change the content of the decree.

Exercise of powers under the Emergency Powers Act will continue

The Government also issued decrees on the continued exercise of powers under the Emergency Powers Act. These allow the continuation of measures previously decided by the Government, the decrees for which will expire on 13 April 2020. With the proposed decrees, the exercise of powers is extended until 13 May 2020.

Under the decrees issued today, the Government plans to supplement them by issuing decrees on the application of the Emergency Powers Act on Thursday, 2 April 2020. Parliament will conduct an ex post examination of the decrees. In the ex post examination, Parliament may either adopt or repeal the decrees, but their content can not be changed during the parliamentary procedure.

The epidemic is spreading rapidly, and the number of cases is unlikely to peak while the current restrictions are in effect. The Government therefore considers that the restrictive measures should remain in effect until 13 May 2020.

Distance teaching continues

The Government will continue to impose restrictions on contact teaching at different levels of education. This means that the exceptional arrangements for education will be extended until 13 May. Teaching will continue to be organised in alternative ways, primarily through distance learning. The Government still recommends that children in early childhood education and care, pre-primary education and in years 1 to 3 of comprehensive school education stay at home, if possible.

However, the Government is already making provision to extend the exceptional arrangements in education until the end of term, if this is deemed necessary for containing the epidemic. This would be done by extending the validity of the decree on the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act and the decree on the application of the Emergency Powers Act until the end of May, where appropriate. This would allow a reassessment of the measures necessary to contain the coronavirus epidemic at the end of April.

Steps taken to ensure access to medicines and medical supplies

The Government proposed an extension to the powers to restrict the sale of medicines, goods and services used in healthcare services, and it also broadened the use of these powers. The aim is to ensure the availability of medicinal products and essential medical supplies as well as the functioning of the distribution chain in Finland in the exceptional conditions caused by the novel coronavirus.

Healthcare and social welfare

The aim is to extend the powers provided under the Emergency Powers Act to direct the operations of the healthcare and social welfare units. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the regional state administrative agency are prepared, where necessary, to take binding decisions quickly on adjusting the operations of healthcare and social welfare units.

Similarly, municipalities will continue to have the right to deviate from the time limits for providing non-urgent healthcare. In social welfare services, the decree will be clarified to allow municipalities to disregard the time limit for starting service needs assessment.

Sufficient personnel resources

In addition, the Government extended the validity of the decree that allows employers to respond to a shortage of personnel caused by the virus outbreak. Employers may temporarily derogate from working hours and annual holidays arrangements in healthcare and social welfare services, rescue services, emergency response centres and police service.

Inquiries

Prime Minister’s Office
Timo Lankinen, Permanent State Under-Secretary, tel. +358 295 160 300

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Restaurants: Antti Neimala, Director General, tel. +358 295 047 039 and Liisa Huhtala, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel.  +358 295 047 062

Ministry of Education and Culture
Early childhood education, pre-primary and basic education: Eeva-Riitta Pirhonen, Director General, tel. +358 295 330 258
Upper secondary education: Mika Tammilehto, Director General, tel. +358 295 330 308
Higher education: Tapio Kosunen, Director-General, tel. +358 295 330 440
Basic education in the arts: Riitta Kaivosoja, Director General, tel. +358 295 330 129
Eerikki Nurmi, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 295 330 234

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Time limits for providing non-urgent healthcare and for service needs assessment in social welfare services: Anne Ilkka, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 384 and Jaana Huhta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 407
Pharmaceutical service: Merituuli Mähkä, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 575 and Heidi Tahvanainen, Director, tel. +358 295 163 540

Government plenary session, materials (in Finnish)

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