Tighter restrictions on restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses in several regions due to COVID-19
Starting from 5 December, restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses in the regions of Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso and North Ostrobothnia, which are in the community transmission phase, will be subject to the same restrictions as those already in force in Uusimaa. Restrictions will also be tightened in areas entering the acceleration phase. The government decree on the matter will enter into force on 5 December at 00.00.
The decree will remain in force until 15 December 2020, after which provisions on the restrictions will be laid down in a new decree.
Provisions on restrictions on food and beverage service businesses are always issued by decree
Restrictions on the activities of food and beverage service businesses are always decided by the Government, which issues a decree on the restrictions. The restrictions laid down in the decree are based on the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, depending on the epidemiological situation in the region. Regional cooperation groups and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare determine the epidemiological situation (stable level, acceleration phase, community transmission) on the basis of an overall assessment.
The restrictions are divided into three categories in the decree based on whether the region is at a stable level or in the acceleration or community transmission phase. The restrictions applicable to the different phases have not been amended in the decree; instead, regions have been placed in these categories in accordance with the regional epidemiological situation.
Slightly stricter restrictions in community transmission phase
Food and beverage service businesses in Uusimaa, Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso and North Ostrobothnia may stay open until 23.00, and they may, after closing, reopen their doors at 5.00 at the earliest. The restrictions on opening hours will not apply to food and beverage service businesses operating in connection with service stations.
All food and beverage service businesses in these regions must stop serving alcohol by 22.00. The number of customer seats in restaurants that primarily serve alcoholic beverages will be restricted to half the normal total. Restaurants serving food will be allowed to seat 75 per cent of their normal number of customers.
In the community transmission phase, restrictions on food and beverage service businesses are as strict as permitted by the Communicable Diseases Act adopted by Parliament.
More restrictions when epidemic enters acceleration phase
The regions of Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa, Ostrobothnia, Satakunta, South Karelia, Central Finland, South Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia and Kainuu are in the acceleration phase. All food and beverage service businesses in these regions will be allowed to serve alcohol between 7.00 and 22.00. Restaurants that primarily serve alcoholic beverages may be open between 24 and 23, and they will be allowed to seat half of their normal number of customers. Other restaurants may be open between 1.00 and 24.00 and seat 75 per cent of their normal number of customers.
In the regions of North Savo, South Savo, North Karelia, Lapland and Åland, there are still no restrictions on the number of customers. All food and beverage service businesses will be allowed to serve alcohol between 7.00 and 24.00. Restaurants that primarily serve alcoholic beverages may be open between 2.00 and 1.00. The opening hours of other restaurants will not be restricted.
Restrictions aim to reduce the risk of infection
The aim of the restrictions to be imposed based on the epidemiological situation in the region is to reduce people’s social contacts in premises and situations where the COVID-19 disease is known to spread effectively.
Provisions on the restrictions on the activities of food and beverage service businesses are laid down in section 58a of the Communicable Diseases Act. This temporary section will remain in force until 28 February 2021. Further provisions on restrictions are issued by government decree. They lay down provisions on the restrictions concerning the opening and licencing hours of food and beverage service businesses by region and type of restaurant.
Since 1 June 2020, all restrictions on restaurants have been laid down by decree, and this is still the case. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health informs about the issuance of a new decree separately each time.
Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]
- Government decree amending the government decree on temporarily restricting the activities of food and beverage service businesses to prevent the spread of a communicable disease, 4 December 2020 (PDF, available in Finnish and Swedish)
- Memorandum (in Finnish)
- Restrictions on the activities of food and beverage service businesses, 5 December 2020, table (PDF, available in Finnish and Swedish)