Restaurant restrictions tighten, as Covid-19 cases surge

The new, tougher rules are being introduced in regions which have entered the 'spreading' phase of the pandemic.

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Coronavirus graphic / Credit: iStock

The government is putting in place new restrictions on restaurants and bars from Saturday, as it warns there’s a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases across the country.

The new restrictions are specifically for regions which have entered the ‘spreading’ phase of the pandemic: Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso and Northern Ostrobothnia, and brings them in line with the capital city region.

In these parts of the country catering businesses can be open from 05:00 – 23:00, but stop selling all food and drinks by 22:00. Establishments can only have a maximum 75% occupancy at any given time, and each customer must have their own seat.

There are different, slightly more lenient, rules in parts of the country where the virus is at the ‘accelerated’ phase: Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa, Ostrobothnia, Satakunta, South Karelia, Central Finland, Southern Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia and Kainuu.

In these regions alcohol can be serves in all bars and restaurants between 07:00 and 22:00. Bars can be open until 23:00, but with half the usual occupancy. Other restaurants can be open until 22:00 but at 75% occupancy.

In the provinces of North Savo, South Savo, North Karelia, Lapland and Åland, there are still no restrictions on the number of customers in bars and restaurants, which are allowed to be open until 01:00.

Worsening virus situation 

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health issued a warning on Thursday that the coronavirus situation is “rapidly worsening” across the country, with the number and incidence of the virus rising sharply in almost all regions over the past two weeks.

New guidance says that regions must adopt effective ways to prevent infections, and introduce more restrictions to stop the upward trend.

“While many regions have already taken action, it will take a few weeks before we can see the effects of the recommendations and restrictions on the development of the epidemic” the government’s latest bulletin advises.

The total number of new cases in the last two-week period (16–29 November) was 5,620, which was 2,559 cases more than in the preceding two-week period.

Most new cases of coronavirus have been found in working-age adults, and younger people.