Patrons at the outdoor terrace of a restaurant in Helsinki on 8 August 2021. (Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva)

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THE RESTRICTIONS on restaurants will be relaxed this week in Finland.

YLE on Monday reported that restaurants in areas in the community transmission phase of the coronavirus epidemic will be required to close at midnight and stop serving alcohol an hour earlier as of Thursday, 16 September.

Restaurants in areas in the acceleration phase, in turn, will have to close by 2am and stop serving alcohol at 1am.

The epidemic is presently deemed to be in the community transmission phase in Kymenlaakso, Ostrobothnia, Pirkanmaa, South Ostrobothnia, Southern Karelia, South-west Finland and Uusimaa. Central Ostrobothnia, Kainuu, Kanta-Häme, North Ostrobothnia, Northern Karelia, Northern Savonia, Päijät-Häme, Satakunta and Southern Savonia.

North Karelia, though, is set to move from the acceleration to the baseline phase on Thursday.

No restrictions on serving and opening hours will be imposed on restaurants in the four regions in the baseline phase: Central Finland, Lapland, North Karelia and Åland Islands. Restaurants in such regions are also not required to assign each customer to their own seat.

In other parts of Finland, restaurants serving primarily alcohol will not be allowed to take in more than 50 per cent and other restaurants no more than 75 per cent of their usual full capacity.

The amendments were proposed by ministers in charge of health and welfare issues, according to YLE. The government will convene today for an extraordinary session to make a decision on the amendments on Tuesday.

The exceptions in the restrictions will remain unchanged, meaning the restrictions will not apply to workplace canteens or the sales of takeaway food. The restrictions on opening hours also do not apply to the in-house restaurants of service stations and cruise ships operating between Finland and Estonia or Finland and Sweden.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT