Sunday 6/20/21
CORONAVIRUS

Government extends curfew on bars and pubs in Helsinki region

Singing and dancing inside public establishments will continue to be prohibited in Uusimaa until further notice.
A crowded terrace in downtown Helsinki in the afternoon, before curfew. Photo: Foreigner.fi.
A crowded terrace in downtown Helsinki in the afternoon, before curfew. Photo: Foreigner.fi.

The Finnish government announced on Tuesday a relaxation of restaurant restrictions in several regions as the coronavirus situation continues to improve. But the relaxation does not apply to Helsinki and its surroundings, where hospitality business will have to continue to close early despite the improvement in the epidemiological situation.

The latest guidelines published by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health do not include a major relief for bars and pubs in the capital region, in Päijät-Häme and in Kanta-Häme. These areas are included by the government in the community transmission phase, the worst scenario in the three-tier government scheme.

Bars and pubs in these regions will have to stop selling alcohol at 6:00 pm and must close at 7:00 pm, while other restaurants may serve alcohol until 8:00 pm and must shut their doors at 9:00 pm.

The early closure and the current lack of tourists makes the capital of the country have an appearance of a closed and boring place in this early summer. Entrepreneurs in the hospitality and tourism sector have already complained about this situation, but the government does not withdraw from their position.

On Tuesday, the Finnish Hospitality Association (MaRa) lodged a complaint with the Chancellor of Justice regarding the government's treatment of bars and restaurants. The lobby group considers that under the Communicable Diseases Act bars and restaurants should be allowed to serve alcohol until 10:00 pm and close at 11:00 pm.

According to data from the national registry of Infectious Diseases reported by THL, on Tuesday the incidence of new cases of Covid-19 stood at 29 for the entire country and 54 for the Helsinki area and surroundings (Uusimaa region).

The amendments

From Wednesday, June 9, the restrictions will be eased in those regions that are considered in the baseline or in the acceleration phase of the epidemic. In practice, the main changes fore these areas are an additional hour of drinking and the lifting of the specific ban on dancing and karaoke, which has been in force for several months.

In areas in the baseline phase, customers will no longer need to be seated at a table when served outdoors.

This greater permissiveness will not apply to the Helsinki region, where singing and dancing inside public establishments will continue to be prohibited until further notice.

Baseline areas

The government includes in the baseline scenario the following regions: Åland, South Ostrobothnia, Kainuu, North Ostrobothnia, North Savo, North Karelia, Central Finland, South Savo, Ostrobothnia, Satakunta, South Karelia.

In these regions food and beverage service businesses may serve alcoholic beverages between 7:00 am and 1:00 am and be open to customers between 5:00 am and 2:00 am.

Restaurants that primarily serve alcoholic beverages may have in use half the normal number of customer seats in indoor premises. Other restaurants may seat 75% of their normal number of customers inside their establishments.

The restrictions on the number of customer seats do not apply in Åland.

Restaurants will no longer need to instruct customers to stay seated in indoor premises. This means that the ban on dancing and karaoke will be lifted.

Customers will no longer need to have a seat at a table on outdoor terraces, where the ban on dancing and karaoke does not apply either.

Acceleration phase

The regions in the acceleration phase are Southwest Finland, Kymenlaakso, Pirkanmaa and Central Ostrobothnia.

Food and beverage service businesses may serve alcoholic beverages between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm and be open between 5:00 am and 11:00 pm.

Restaurants that primarily serve alcoholic beverages may have in use half the normal number of customer seats in indoor premises. Other restaurants may seat 75% of their normal number of customers inside their establishments.

Restaurants will no longer need to instruct customers to stay seated in indoor premises and the ban on dancing and karaoke will be lifted.

On outdoor terraces, each customer must have a seat, and everyone must take care of safe distances. The on dancing and karaoke does not apply to outdoor terraces.

Community transmission phase

The areas in the community transmission phase are Päijät-Häme, Uusimaa and Kanta-Häme.

Restaurants that primarily serve alcoholic beverages may serve alcohol between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm and be open to customers between 5:00 am and 7:00 pm. They may have in use half the normal number of customer seats in indoor premises. 

Other restaurants may serve alcoholic beverages between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm and be open between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm. They may have in use 75% of their normal number of customer seats in indoor premises.

In these areas, restaurants must instruct customers to stay seated in indoor premises. "This means that dancing and karaoke, for example, are prohibited," the government said in a statement.

On outdoor terraces, each customer must have a seat. The above-mentioned customer seating restrictions and dance ban do not apply to outdoor terraces.

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