Saturday 9/25/21

Government backs down and relaxes restrictions on Helsinki bars

The move comes just in time to allow thousands of soccer fans to enjoy Finland's Euro 2020 matches on a terrace
Customers enjoying a drink on a terrace in Helsinki. Photo:
Customers enjoying drinks and good weather on a terrace in Helsinki. Photo:

The Finnish government has given in to pressure from hotel and restaurant companies and thousands of people who did not understand the strict curfew that until today forced bars and pubs to close early in the afternoon.

Just three days ago, the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) had agreed to maintain the strict curfew that forced establishments that primarily sell alcoholic beverages to stop selling alcohol at 6:00 pm and close at 7:00 pm.

Now the government has backed down and they will be able to sell alcohol until 10:00 pm and stay open until 11:00 pm.

The government has amended the decree restricting the activities of restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses.

As a result, the capital region (Uusimaa) is no longer included among the areas in which the epidemic is in the 'community transmission phase' and is moved to the list of areas in the 'acceleration phase', which allows loosening some restrictions.

The move comes just in time to allow thousands of soccer fans to enjoy Finland's Euro 2020 matches on a terrace while enjoying a beer.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, currently the incidence of new coronavirus cases in Uusimaa is 51.7, down from 76.2 registered in the previous 14-day-period.

On Thursday, Finnish health authorities issued a statement with the conclusions of the latest monitoring report on the epidemic. The report explained that the incidence of the disease has almost halved across the country in the last month.

From Friday at 18:00

The more lenient restrictions on food and beverage service businesses in the Helsinki region will enter into force on 11 June at 18.00.

In practice, this means that bars, pub and restaurants in the regions of Uusimaa, Southwest Finland (Turku and surroundings) and Central Ostrobothnnia may serve alcoholic beverages between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm and be open between 5:00 am and 11:00 pm.

Restaurants that primarily serve alcoholic beverages may have in use half the normal number of customer seats in indoor premises. Other restaurants may seat 75% of their normal number of customers inside their establishments.

The customer seating restrictions do not apply to outdoor terraces. On outdoor terraces, each customer must have a seat, and everyone must take care of safe distances.