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State-owned booze maker Altia starts temporary layoff talks

Altia said that travel-related and restaurant sales as well as exports had taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

Altia's Koskenkorva distillery is now turning out the raw ingredient used in hand sanitiser. Image: Antti Kettumäki / Yle

State-owned alcoholic beverages manufacturer Altia said on Monday that it would begin temporary layoff talks that affecting 400-odd employees across all operations in Finland.

The company said in a statement that restrictions implemented to limit the spread of novel coronavirus have had an impact on travel-related sales and exports.

"In practice travel-related and restaurant sales as well as exports are zero at the moment and it will probably continue this way through the second quarter and beyond," CEO Pekka Tennilä said.

The firm described the restrictions as "necessary actions" but noted that curbs on movement have affected personnel numbers. It added that because the duration and impact of the partial state of emergency are difficult to predict it is considering the temporary layoffs.

Conversion to meet hand sanitiser demand

Altia is one of the many firms re-purposing production to meet the special needs of the pandemic. It has already switched to making the raw material for hand sanitiser at its Koskenkorva spirit distillery in Ilmajoki on the west coast.

"Production at the Koskenkorva plant continues at full capacity. It is now producing the raw material for the hand sanitiser that Finland needs," Tennilä added.

Altia said that it sent out an invitation to the co-determination talks on Monday and speculated that the negotiations would likely end after Easter.