Government proposal: restaurants to be temporarily closed to customers – takeaway and delivery still permitted
The Government has submitted a proposal to Parliament on the temporary closure of restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses to customers for three weeks. The act would enter into force on 8 March 2021 and remain in force until 28 March 2021. During that time, meals could still be sold to customers for takeaway and delivery. The closure would apply to food and beverage service businesses in areas where the COVID-19 epidemic is in the acceleration or community transmission phase. Separate provisions on the areas of application will be laid down by government decree.
As a matter of urgency, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is preparing a support model for the reasonable compensation of businesses affected by the closure.
The temporary closure of restaurants is one of the measures taken by the Government to prevent the rapid acceleration of the COVID-19 epidemic and to curb the spread of more infections virus variants. The proposal is based on the Government’s decision to declare a state of emergency in Finland. The Government decided on the state of emergency and the proposal in its meeting on 1 March 2021.
Closure to affect all food and beverage service businesses in areas in the acceleration or community transmission phase, with the exception of staff restaurants
The temporary closure would apply to all food and beverage service businesses in areas where it is necessary in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, i.e. in areas where the epidemic is in the acceleration or community transmission phase. Provisions on the regions affected by the closures will be laid down by government decree. The decree will be issued upon the entry into force of the act.
The food and beverage service businesses to be closed down would include cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs that are open to the public. The restriction would also affect outdoor terraces.
Restaurants that are not open to the public would be exempt from the closure. It would therefore not affect canteens in residential homes for older people or staff restaurants that are not open to other customers, for example.
During the closure, restaurants and cafes would still be allowed to sell portions directly to the customer for takeaway or deliver them either themselves or using other service providers.
In regions where the COVID-19 epidemic is at a stable level, food and beverage service businesses could continue to be open to customers. Businesses that remain open must still comply with the restrictions laid down in the Communicable Diseases Act and in the regulations issued under it.
The classification of regions into the baseline, acceleration and community transmission phases of the epidemic is based on the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s action plan for implementing the hybrid strategy to manage COVID-19.
How will the closure proceed?
The Government proposal will now proceed to Parliament for deliberations. Then, the President of the Republic will approve the act and the Government will adopt a decree on the areas to be affected by the closure. The decree will then be submitted to Parliament for an ex post examination.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will provide more information on the entry into force of the act and the support model for businesses as the matter progresses.
Liisa Huhtala, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7062
Antti Neimala, Director-General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7039