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Singing and dancing to be allowed at restaurants as government relaxes Covid rules

As of Friday, all restaurant restrictions, except those regarding hygiene, are to be waived in areas in the acceleration phase.

Ravintola Teatteri
There will be major easing of restaurant restrictions across the country as of 1 October. Image: Berislav Jurišić / Yle
Yle News

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) said on Thursday afternoon that the government has decided to ease restrictions on restaurants and other catering businesses.

In areas of the country in the community transmission phase of the epidemic, the ban on karaoke and dancing will be lifted, she said on Twitter.

Meanwhile all restrictions on drinking and opening hours will be abolished in the areas in the more moderate "acceleration phase".

"In line with our hybrid strategy, we are continuing to incrementally lighten restrictions in a safe manner," wrote Kiuru, one of the cabinet's two health ministers.

According to Yle sources, ministers from the five governing parties held negotiations before a full session on Thursday and decided on various steps to loosen restrictions.

Opening hours of the restaurants in the community transmission phase are to be extended by an hour, while the ban on dancing and karaoke is to be lifted altogether. They also decided to end the seating requirement on outdoor terraces – although with temperatures dropping in Finland that is unlikely to be a major issue in the coming months. Indoors, all guests must still have their own seats.

Bars and restaurants in the community transmission phase, including many parts of southern Finland, will be allowed to remain open until 1 am, but must stop serving alcohol at midnight.

Dining-oriented restaurants may allow in three quarters of their regular maximum capacity, while alcohol-oriented bars may still only use half of customer seating.

Changes in regional phase settings possible

As of Thursday, the areas in the community transmission include the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS) as well as Southwestern Finland, South Karelia and the Vaasa and Kuopio regions.

Those in the acceleration phase are: Pirkanmaa, Päijät-Häme, Kanta-Häme, Kymenlaakso, Central Ostrobothnia, East Savo and most of North Savo. The rest of the country is deemed to be at the baseline level.

However these designations may change as of Friday.

Yle has learned that Uusimaa – except for the Helsinki metropolitan area – may be downgraded from the community transmission phase to the acceleration phase, while Southern Ostrobothnia is to move from the acceleration phase to the baseline level.

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