Government decides on temporary restrictions to the operations of food and beverage service businesses
On 29 September, the Government decided on temporary restrictions to the opening hours and alcohol sales hours of food and beverage service businesses in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. The Government will adopt the decree on the restrictions at an extraordinary session on 30 September.
In line with the decree, food and beverage service businesses may be open as of 4.00 and must be closed no later than 1.00. Alcohol sales may begin no earlier than 9.00 and must end no later than 24.00.
The decree will enter into force on 1 October and is set to remain in force until 31 October.
Food and beverage service businesses will have a one-week transition period to prepare for the new restrictions, and they will have to comply with the decree in this respect as of 8 October.
No new restrictions will be placed on the number of customer seats in food and beverage service businesses. The normal number of customers currently allowed in the space according to the liquor licence or building plan will still be allowed.
All customers must still have their own seat, and the food and beverage service business must ensure good hygiene practices. Indoor and outdoor furniture and customer service should be arranged in such a way that customers will not be exposed to the spread of the coronavirus. Food and beverage service businesses must continue to ensure that there is no unnecessary congestion in their premises and that customers and parties of customers can maintain a safe distance between one another. Customers can still pick up their food and beverages from the bar or counter, for example.
The Government will monitor the development of the COVID-19 epidemic in different regions during October. Additional restrictions on food and beverage services can be introduced quickly in areas entering the acceleration phase. The introduction of additional restrictions will be confirmed by a statement from an expert authority at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. The statement will into account the views of the situational picture and modelling group set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the regional cooperation group of the hospital district in question on the epidemiological situation at the regional level.
In areas entering the acceleration phase, operations will be restricted so that food and beverage service businesses must close no later than 23.00 and alcohol sales must end at 22.00. In addition, no more than half of the maximum number of customers may be present in the interior premises of the establishment at the same time.
An expert assessment concerning the acceleration phase will be made on a weekly basis, and decisions on the restrictions will be made every two weeks.
Further preparation of support for businesses most affected by COVID-19
At its meeting, the Government also discussed possible options for providing cost support to sectors whose operating conditions have been most affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.
The Government will quickly launch preparations to introduce general fixed-term support for business costs and to determine the criteria for the support and the legal provisions required to introduce it.
Inquiries: Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected] (food and beverage service businesses) and Sampsa Nissinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, [email protected], tel. +358 295 047 189