THE FIRST SERIES of restrictions on the opening and serving hours of restaurants entered into effect in Finland on Thursday, 8 October.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Wednesday also announced the government will toughen the restrictions in regions that are in the acceleration or spreading stage of the epidemic as soon as on Sunday, 11 October.
Restaurants in such regions will be required to stop serving alcohol at 10pm and close their doors at 11pm – two hours earlier than those in other parts of the country – as well as be allowed to only taken in half of their usual full capacity.
Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) stated yesterday in a news conference that the aggravating epidemiological situation left the government with no choice but to adopt the stricter restrictions in five regions: Kanta-Häme, Ostrobothnia, Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland and Uusimaa.
The epidemic is deemed to already be in the spreading stage in Ostrobothnia, added Kirsi Varhila, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Vaasa, the 65,000-resident regional capital of Ostrobothnia, accounted for up to a third of the 227 new infections reported in Finland on Tuesday. The city has responded to the situation by prohibiting gatherings of over 50 people and public events for the next three weeks.
“The situation is very challenging right now. We got 173 new coronavirus cases over the weekend, between Friday and Monday evening. It’s a considerably high number in a town of this size,” Heikki Kaukoranta, the chief physician of infectious diseases at Vaasa Hospital District, stated to Helsingin Sanomat.
The Finnish government is expected to confirm the stricter restrictions in its extraordinary session on Friday. All restrictions on restaurant operations must be implemented by means of a government decree because regional authorities do not have the power to limit the freedom to conduct a business.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) on Wednesday said the act on communicable diseases will be discussed at the government’s evening class on 14 October.
“I’ve also invited representatives of the opposition to the evening class due to the significant nature of the issue and the importance to have a parliamentary discussion about it,” she commented on Twitter.
Kiuru told that the goal of the discussions next week will be to agree on national measures that provide a foundation for regional authorities to make use of tools afforded under the act on communicable diseases more effectively. The measures under consideration, she added, are related to hobbies, public gatherings, and remote learning and work, for example.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi