Restaurants open on 1 June – restrictions prevent the risk of COVID-19 infection
On 1 June, restaurants and cafes will be opened to customers throughout the country with certain restrictions. The Act on Temporarily Amending the Communicable Diseases Act will enter into force at the same time and be applicable between 1 June 2020 and 31 October 2020.
The President of the Republic confirmed the Act on 29 May. The Government then issued, pursuant to section 58a of the Communicable Diseases Act, a government decree on temporarily restricting the activities of food and beverage service businesses to prevent the spread of a communicable disease. The decree will enter into force on 1 June 2020 and remain in force until 31 July 2020.
The Government must regularly assess whether the restrictions laid down in the act and the decree remain necessary in different areas of the country in order to prevent the spread of the communicable disease.
One of the objectives of the temporary restrictions is that the food and beverage service sector come up with operating models, based on voluntary measures and own-initiative plans, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the sector when the restrictions are gradually lifted.
Restrictions prevent the spread of infections
As of 1 June 2020, businesses serving food or beverages may be open between 6.00 and 23.00.
The serving of alcoholic beverages is permitted between 9.00 and 22.00. Alcoholic beverages sold before 22.00 must be consumed by the closing time at 23.00.
The number of indoor customer seating must be reduced by half.
In addition, businesses serving food or beverages must follow specific hygiene requirements and be able to maintain sufficient physical distances between customers.
Every customer must have their own seat. Customers may pick up purchases from, for example, a counter.
However, they are not allowed to serve or dish out their own food or drinks, for example at a buffet table.
Food and beverage service businesses are required to draw up a plan on how to implement these restrictions and obligations. The plan and the maximum permitted number of customers must to be displayed where customers can see them.
Restrictions are still justified – gradual dismantling has started
Available international and national data suggest that spending time in the premises of food and beverage service establishments increase the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Primarily, the virus spreads through droplet infection, but it might also be possible that the disease transmits via inhaled aerosol particles. The physical proximity of customers in food and beverage service establishments may therefore spread the virus.
The purpose of the restrictions on the placement of customer seating and the distance between seats is to prevent the risk of infection as the business operations of the food and beverage service sector are gradually opened.
The gradual lifting of the restrictions is based on the government resolution issued on 6 May 2020.
Due to the emergency conditions caused by the coronavirus epidemic, restaurants, cafes and bars have been closed to customers since 4 April 2020. The gradual opening of the food and beverage service sector enables to provide safe conditions for customers. It also increases customers' trust that the sector is operating responsibly and improves business opportunities for the sector
Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]