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Clarification to the Decree on temporarily restricting the activities of food and beverage service businesses: serving of alcohol may begin at 7.00 at the earliest

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
5.11.2020 13.47
Press release 264/2020

The Government has made a clarification to the Decree on temporarily restricting the activities of food and beverage service businesses that it issued on 29 October. Under the Decree, food and beverage service businesses may begin serving alcohol at 7.00 at the earliest. This applies to all regions regardless of their epidemiological situation.

Reason for the amendment: uncertainty related to the increased flexibility in the restrictions on opening hours 

In practice, the clarification was made by amending section 5 of the Decree, which concerns the restriction on opening hours and hours when alcohol can be served. The clarification is necessary because there has been some ambiguity as to when businesses may begin serving alcoholic beverages. 

The Decree issued on 29 October added flexibility to the restrictions on the opening hours of food and beverage service businesses so that businesses subject to the restrictions may generally reopen one hour after closing. This means that 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. Some ambiguity has arisen as to whether a business may resume serving alcoholic beverages after it has been closed for one hour.

This is not the intended interpretation of the provisions and, in accordance with the clarification made, businesses may begin serving alcohol at 7.00 at the earliest. In addition, food and beverage service businesses must always comply with the Alcohol Act and any conditions attached to their serving licence when serving alcoholic beverages. 

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 amended Decree enters into force on 6 November 2020.

Inquiries:

Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]