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Tighter restrictions to be imposed on food and beverage service businesses in six areas

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 9.10.2020 11.27
Press release 234/2020

In areas where the COVID-19 epidemic has reached the acceleration stage, food and beverage service businesses (restaurants) will need to follow tighter restrictions starting on 11 October.

In the regions of Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa, Kanta-Häme, Ostrobothnia and South Ostrobothnia, food and beverage service businesses (restaurants) must stop selling alcohol no later than 22.00 and they must be closed no later than 23.00. In addition, they will not be allowed to seat more than half of their normal number of customers inside their establishments. The restrictions will enter into force on the night between Saturday 10 October and Sunday 11 October at 00.00.

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 31 October 2020. Further provisions on restrictions are issued by government decree.  The restrictions will remain in force only for as long as is necessary, but no longer than until 31 October 2020. 

In other regions, the restrictions that took effect on 8 October will remain in force until further notice. Under these restrictions, food and beverage service businesses may serve alcohol until 24.00 and they may be open until 1.00. The number of customer seats will not be limited in other regions. 

The regions where the epidemic has reached the acceleration stage have been determined on the basis of an expert opinion from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and an assessment from the situational picture and modelling group set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. These in turn are based on the assessments made by the relevant regional cooperation groups regarding their own areas. 

Provisions on new restrictions or easing of restrictions are always issued by decree

The epidemiological situation is constantly monitored, because at the moment the situation is developing very fast throughout Finland. The Government assesses the necessity of restrictions on food and beverage service businesses every two weeks, and if necessary, issues a new decree. Information on restrictions will always be provided separately. 

Regional cooperation groups unite the efforts of public authorities in each area

Over the past few weeks, hospital districts have organised the work of public authorities in their areas together with municipalities, Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Regional State Administrative Agencies and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. Hospital districts report to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare on the situation in their areas, the recommendations on new measures issued by regional cooperation groups and any decisions made by the municipalities in their areas concerning the fight against COVID-19.

Different stages of the epidemiological situational picture guide decisions on restrictions

In line with the Government’s hybrid strategy against COVID-19 and the action plan issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on 7 September 2020, the aim is to prevent the spread of the virus in Finland, safeguard the resource capacity of the healthcare system and shield and protect people, especially those in risk groups. The action plan guides the authorities of municipalities, hospital districts and Regional State Administrative Agencies who are responsible for implementing the Communicable Diseases Act as they give recommendations and impose restrictions in their areas.

In accordance with the action plan, the epidemiological situational picture is divided into three stages: base level, acceleration stage and spreading stage. Decisions concerning both national and regional recommendations and restrictions are based on these different stages of the epidemic. When deciding on new restrictive measures, account is taken of the epidemiological, social and economic impact of such measures.

Inquiries:

Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected] (Government Decree)
Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, Strategic Director, [email protected] (Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s action plan for implementing recommendations and restrictive measures under the hybrid strategy)