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Gov't loosens restrictions on restaurants, hospitals and gatherings

Further changes to travel restrictions may come early next week.

PM Marin arrived for negotiations at the House of Estates on Wednesday. Image: Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's cabinet has lifted some restrictions on restaurants, hospitals and public events.

Marin told reporters that ministers had also discussed the limitations on nursing homes, but no changes in this regard were announced.

"The disease situation appears to be calm. There are few new cases per day and few people in hospital care," the premier said.

Earlier in the day, the national health agency THL reported five new confirmed cases, with 26 people in hospital, two of them in intensive care. No deaths have been reported since Sunday, and only one in the past week.

Restaurants allowed to serve 9am-1am

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiurusaid that the cabinet had decided on relaxations of rules governing restaurants.

As of early June, restaurants and bars have been allowed to serve alcohol until 10pm and to remain open until 11pm. Only half as many customers as usual have been allowed indoors. With so much warm weather this month, many have shifted their focus to outdoor terraces instead.

As of Monday, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to sell alcohol between 9am and 1am, and remain open until 4am.

They may also serve up to 75 percent of their normal capacity indoors, as long as each customer has a seat. Restaurants will also once again be allowed to offer buffets.

More flexibility for hospitals, public events

In hospitals, the recommendation against visitors has been removed. However directors of individual wards will be allowed to limit visits if there is doubt that they can be carried out safely.

Minister of Science and Culture Hanna Kosonen said that as of 1 August, gatherings of more than 500 people will be allowed, both indoors and outdoors, without special permits. If the pandemic situation continues to improve, all restrictions are to be removed as of 1 October.

Next Tuesday, after the long Midsummer weekend, the government will look at border issues, activity guidelines for the aged and recommendations on remote work.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Thursday that the cabinet will consider further loosening of travel restrictions when it meets on Tuesday.