Avi receives "daily complaints" about incorrect Covid pass checks

Authorities in southern Finland receive about 20 complaints per week about inconsistencies at restaurants and event venues.

By displaying a Covid pass, a customer proves full vaccination coverage, a recent negative test result, or recovery from the disease within the required time limit. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Covid passes at events and establishments across southern Finland are being checked inconsistently, according to the Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi).

The agency said it receives complaints and notifications, mostly from restaurant customers, that venues, eateries and bars are checking Covid passes very differently, with the documents being checked too closely or inadequately.

Nearly all of the region's 15 field inspectors receive a couple of such complaints every day, with a total of around 20 complaints being filed each week, according to Avi's senior inspector in southern Finland, Pirkko Lamminpää.

"They get emails every day. People are asked for too much detailed personal information, while other places don't ask for the documents. Some complain about violations of their fundamental rights and others point out lax monitoring," Lamminpää explained.

At establishments where alcohol is served in areas that require use of the documents, the QR codes on customers' Covid passes — as well as their photo IDs — are checked as they arrive.

By displaying a Covid pass, a customer proves full vaccination coverage, a recent negative test result, or recovery from the disease within the required time limit.

"The customer must not be asked for any health information or anything else," Lamminpää noted.

Establishments face closure if rules not followed

Starting at the end of November, the use of Covid passes at venues and restaurants serving alcohol became mandatory after 5pm.

If a complaint is filed about a particular establishment, Avi will contact the business owner. While the agency's inspectors do not have the authority to ask customers for Covid passes, they can oblige restaurant operators to do so.

If an establishment chooses not to use Covid passes, it must close down by 6pm, with a final drinks call before 5pm. If local regulations are not followed, establishments can be temporarily shut down on the authority of Avi and police, with decisions on such suspensions having immediate effect.

Riku-Matti Lehikoinen, the head of Avi's Alcohol Management Unit, said there are constant murmurs about restaurants not correctly checking the passes, including allegations that some establishments were allowing customers to enter without the documents if they pay a fee.

However, Leihikoinen noted that the agency has not uncovered such a scheme to date, adding that no restaurant or bar has been required to shut down due to use of Covid passes.

"Restaurateurs have cooperated well with us," Leihikoinen said.