The Government of Finland has once again tightened restrictions on the activity of bars, pubs and restaurants in the most populated areas of the country due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 738 new cases of coronavirus across the country on Friday, most of which have occurred in the southern area, where the largest cities are concentrated and the majority of the population lives.
The incidence of new cases already exceeds 150 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks throughout the country. However, in the area of Helsinki and surroundings (Uusimaa) it is 254 and 201 in the area of Turku (Southwest Finland). In the Tampere region (Pirkanmaa) the incidence of new infections stood at 169 on Friday.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the government has amended the decree that restricts the activities of food and beverage service businesses.
Under the new rules, which will enter into force on Sunday 8 August at 00:00, the cities of Greater Helsinki and the regions of Southwest Finland (Turku area), Pirkanmaa (Tampere region) and Kymeenlaakso (where the biggest city is Kouvola) are moved to the "community transmission phase" of the epidemic, which is the worst case scenario, according to the classification of the authorities.
Meanwhile, other regions such as South Ostrobothnia, South Karelia and Ostrobothnia have been moved to the "acceleration phase" of the epidemic.
The new classification entails a tightening of restrictions for bars and restaurants.
Community transmission phase
This scenario applies to the regions of Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa and Kymenlaakso, and in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.
Food and beverage service businesses may serve alcoholic beverages between 7.00 and 22.00 and be open between 5.00 and 23.00.
The capacity in those businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverages is restricted to only half of their normal number of customer seats. This applies not only to indoor areas but also, as a new restriction, to outdoors areas. Other food and beverage service businesses are restricted to 75% indoors and outdoors.
All customers of food and beverage service businesses must have their own seat at a table or counter in both indoor and outdoor premises.
A ban is also imposed on dancing and karaoke in indoor premises.
Authorities have place at the acceleration phase the regions of Satakunta, Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, South Karelia, North Savo, North Karelia, Central Finland, South Ostrobothnia, Ostrobothnia and Kainuu, and the rest of the Uusimaa region.
Food and beverage service businesses may serve alcoholic beverages between 7.00 and 00.00 and be open between 5.00 and 1.00.
Those businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverages are restricted to half of their normal number of customer seats indoors. Other food business are restricted to 75% of their normal number of customer seats indoors.
As before, all customers must have their own seat by a table or counter when indoors. The number of customer seats in outdoor terraces is not limited.
In the regions of Åland, North Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia, South Savo and Lapland there are no separate restrictions on the number of customers or on licensing and opening hours.
However, in Åland bars and restaurants may serve alcoholic beverages between 7.00 and 00.00 and be open between 5.00 and 1.00.
As before, all customers must have their own seat by a table or counter when indoors.
These restrictions do not apply to staff restaurants or to takeaway sales of food, to businesses in vessels, aircraft and gas stations.