A patron enjoyed a pint of beer in a restaurant in Iisalmi, Northern Savonia, on Sunday, 28 March 2021. Northern Savonia is one of two regions added to the list of regions where restaurants are not allowed to serve eat-in customers on Sunday, 28 March. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNISH PARLIAMENT has decided to extend the shutdowns of bars, cafés, pubs, restaurants and nightclubs in areas in the acceleration or community transmission stage of the coronavirus epidemic until 18 April.

A decision on the three-week extension was made in an extraordinary parliamentary session organised on the eve of the original three-week shutdown ending, on Sunday.

Members of the Parliament had not convened on a Sunday since 1994, when they convened for a filibuster debate about the possibility of Finland joining the European Union, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The Parliament also updated the list of regions in the acceleration or community transmission stage of the epidemic, with the additions of Northern Karelia and Northern Savonia. South Ostrobothnia, Åland Islands and Lapland, with the exception of the municipality of Kittilä, were contrastively removed from the list.

Restaurants are therefore prohibited from serving eat-in customers in all parts of the country except for most of Lapland, Åland Islands, South Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia and Kainuu. Also restaurants in areas where serving to eat-in customers is allowed must comply with orders issued under the act on communicable diseases and stop serving by 10pm and close by 11pm.

“Closing restaurants for customers is an attempt to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic and safeguard the hospital care capacity,” argued the government.

As the shutdowns will have an enormous impact on the financial position of restaurants, the government will continue to compensate for the revenue losses caused by the restrictions. The newly started three-week shutdown, it has estimated, will see roughly 70 million euros paid in compensation.

Restaurants that are primarily not open for the public, such as the canteens of schools, offices and nursing homes, can stay open regardless of their location.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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