Restaurants remain closed to customers until 18 April almost throughout Finland due to serious epidemic situation
Restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses must remain closed to customers until 18 April 2021 in regions where it is necessary to stop the escalation of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The now agreed closure of restaurants extends the closure that started on 9 March, ensuring a seamless continuation of the closure in regions where it is necessary due to the epidemic situation. Unlike during the closure agreed earlier, restaurants may open for business in Åland and South Ostrobothnia starting on 29 March. The same applies to Lapland with the exception of the municipality of Kittilä. In North Savo and in North Karelia, restaurants must be closed to customers starting on 29 March.
However, restaurants can still sell food for takeaway or delivery. During the closure, restaurants and cafés are allowed to sell portions directly to the customer for takeaway or deliver them either themselves or using other service providers.
Closure of restaurants essential due to the epidemiological situation
Restaurants must be closed to customers in the following regions and the following municipality:
2) Southwest Finland
8) South Karelia
9) South Savo
10) North Savo
11) North Karelia
12) Central Finland
14) North Ostrobothnia
The following regions do not fall under the closure requirement: Åland, South Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia and Kainuu. In the region of Lapland, restaurants may be open with the exception of the municipality of Kittilä.
Particular consideration to closure requirements in Lapland
With the exception of Lapland, restaurant closures are imposed on a region-wide basis. In its reply to the Government, Parliament concluded that a sparsely populated region with long distances requires a more thorough consideration. Based on the opinion of Parliament and health authorities’ statement, restaurants must be closed in Kittilä. In all other municipalities in Lapland, restaurants may open for business beginning on 29 March.
Grounds for closure examined weekly
The Government will amend the decree and impose and lift closure restrictions in line with the development of the epidemiological situation in any given region.
In regions where food and beverage service business are allowed to stay open to customers, establishments must observe provisions laid down in the Communicable Diseases Act and issued by virtue of the same Act. In such regions, restaurants must close at 23.00 and stop the serving of alcoholic beverages at 22.00.
Closure affects all food and beverage service businesses, with the exception of staff restaurants
The food and beverage service businesses to be closed down include cafés, restaurants, bars and nightclubs that are open to the public. The closure applies to outdoor terraces, too. However, the sale of takeaway meals is allowed during the closure.
The only restaurants exempt from the closure are restaurants not open to the public. Therefore, the closure does not affect canteens in residential homes for older people or staff restaurants that are not open to other customers, for example. The business models and operating principles of businesses providing food and beverage services to staff and students may vary considerably. If a restaurant is open to the public, it must be closed.
Support scheme for restaurants under preparation
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is preparing a support scheme for the reasonable compensation of businesses affected by the current closure measures. The proposal for the support scheme is currently under consideration by Parliament and will be implemented as part of business cost support. The extension to the closure of restaurants will be taken into account in the further preparation of the support scheme. Companies would apply for the compensation at the State Treasury. Applications for the compensation could be accepted from the beginning of May.
Deliberations on the act and decree
On 28 March 2021, Parliament approved and the President of the Republic confirmed an act, which will temporarily close restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses to customers. The act and the decree concerning the matter will enter into force at midnight between Sunday 28 March and Monday 29 March.
On the same day, the Government issued a decree on the regions to be affected by the closure. In principle, food and beverage service business will remain closed to customers in the regions where the epidemic is in the acceleration or community transmission phase. The assessment of necessity and decisions are based on the expert evaluation of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
Liisa Huhtala, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 062 (closure of restaurants)
Mikko Huuskonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 506 3732 (questions on business cost support)