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Stricter restaurant restrictions in Lapland, national rules extended through February

As the holiday tourism season begins in northern Finland, bars will have to close earlier.

Kaksi henkilö juo olutta ravintolassa.
Valtioneuvosto perustelee rajoituksia varautumisella joulun ja uuden vuoden matkailusesonkiin. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

Alcohol sales at all restaurants and bars in Finnish Lapland must end by 10pm as of this weekend. The government decided on Thursday to tighten restrictions on all dining and drinking spots in Lapland province. Starting on Saturday 12 December, serving must end two hours earlier than now.

The cabinet said the measure is an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus during the Christmas and New Year’s tourist season.

While international tourism has mostly dried up, Lapland is expecting as many as 35,000 tourists from other parts of Finland between mid-December and early January.

Most of these will be from that are in the acceleration and community transmission phase of epidemic, as defined by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The rules are in line with proposals from the Lapland healthcare district coronavirus coordination group and the Finnish Lapland Tourist Board.

Rules extended until end of February nationwide

The Lapland healthcare district is still at the base level, but the Länsi-Pohja healthcare district of southwestern Lapland, on the Swedish border, is in the acceleration phase.

Alcohol sales at all restaurants and bars in Lapland will be allowed from 7am to 10pm. Nightspots whose main business is selling alcohol may remain open until 11pm, with only half of the normal customer capacity. Other restaurants may be open from 1am to midnight, with up to three quarters of regular customer capacity.

The regulations in Lapland will now be the same as in parts of the country deemed to be in the acceleration phase. These are Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa, North and South Karelia, Karelia, Central Finland, Kainuu and all parts of Ostrobothnia. The same restrictions will also take effect in the South Savo healthcare district.

The restrictions will remain in place until at least the end of February, the cabinet decreed on Thursday.

Petrol station cafés and drinks under 1.2% not affected

Restaurants in these areas must close by 11pm and may not re-open before 5 am, effectively banning so-called ‘night cafés’. These restrictions do not cover restaurants and cafés at petrol stations. The rules on alcohol sales cover beverages with more than 1.2 percent alcohol.

Besides the Lapland healthcare district, the only other areas at the base level are North and East Savo and the Åland Islands.

Southwest Finland, which includes the city of Turku, has now joined the provinces in the community transmission phase.

Also on Thursday, the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southwestern Finland reduced the maximum size of public gatherings from 20 to 10 people.

The new rule takes effect on Friday and is in force until at least 10 January. It covers both indoor events and outdoor events in restricted spaces.

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