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Beers and other beverages with an alcohol content exceeding 4.7 per cent have been previously retailed exclusively by Alko, a state-owned alcohol retail monopoly.
Beers and other beverages with an alcohol content exceeding 4.7 per cent have been previously retailed exclusively by Alko, a state-owned alcohol retail monopoly.

 

The Parliament on Friday passed a bill raising the limit on alcohol content in beverages sold at grocery shops from 4.7 to 5.5 per cent and bringing so-called canned cocktails to the shelves of grocery shops.

The bill, however, will also introduce a number of other changes to the legislation governing how alcoholic beverages are sold and served in Finland.

Helsingin Sanomat highlights that the bill will allow bars, pubs and restaurants to extend their serving hours from 1.30am to 4am simply by issuing a notification. Such establishments will also be able to apply for a permit from regional authorities to continue serving alcohol at an outdoor terrace after 1.30am.

The security staff requirements imposed on establishments serving alcohol will similarly be relaxed: the establishments will be required to have one security guard for every one hundred patrons, but the guards will also be allowed to perform other tasks, such as serve beverages.

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The patrons of bars, pubs and restaurants, meanwhile, will be allowed to buy more than one portion of alcohol at once and buy alcoholic beverages also to go between 9am and 9pm.

Breweries will be allowed to retail products with an alcohol content not exceeding 5.5 per cent and smaller microbreweries products with an alcohol content not exceeding 13 per cent directly to consumers. A brewery is considered a microbrewery if its annual production is less than 500,000 litres.

Alko, the state-owned alcohol retail monopoly, will extend its opening hours until 9pm on weekdays and until 6pm on Saturdays.

The Parliament voted separately on several sections of the bill. The vote on whether or not to raise the limit on alcohol content in beverages sold at grocery shops was as close as anticipated, with lawmakers approving the raise by a vote of 98 for and 94 against. The changes were also approved by the Parliament’s Grand Committee, which voted 13–12 in favour of the bill to ensure its contents can no longer be amended.

The legislative revisions are set to enter into force on 1 March, 2018.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva

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