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All restaurants must be eligible for coronavirus subsidies, says Constitutional Law Committee

Compensation must be paid to all companies that have suffered losses due to the shutdown, the committee ruled.

Gastropub Tuulensuu lainasi asiakkailleen piknik-pöydän ja -tuolit virvokkeiden ja ruoan nauttimista varten Hämeenpuiston alueella.
The Constitutional Law Committee insists that all firms in the restaurant sector must be treated even-handedly. Image: Miikka Varila / Yle

The Finnish Parliament’s powerful Constitutional Law Committee has weighed in on plans to subsidise companies in the restaurant branch for losses during the government-ordered coronavirus shutdown. All restaurants in the country have been closed since April 4, except for takeaway sales.

The committee says that the Commerce Committee must make changes in the government bill before it moves on to the next stage.

The Constitutional Law Committee declared that all firms that have lost sales due to the closure must be eligible for state compensation.

The Commerce Committee is now finalising its own statement on the restaurant subsidy issue.

Even restaurants inactive in early 2020 should be able to apply

The Constitutional Law Committee says that the compensation models proposed by the government are generally acceptable, but that they should be applied more broadly.

The committee pointed out that restaurants are often small businesses, and that the law as it stands leaves out any that did not have comparable baseline sales figures from January and February. These might include new and seasonal restaurants, cafés and caterers.

The committee added that support for re-employment must not depend on what kind of job status workers had before the shutdown.

The Constitutional Law Committee also said that the Commerce Committee must simplify the proposed regulations, describing them as complicated and difficult to understand.

The Constitutional Law Committee typically has the final say on whether bills before Parliament are acceptable in constitutional terms.

The 17-member panel includes representatives of all parties. For the past year it has been chaired by MP Johanna Ojala-Niemelä, from the prime minister's Social Democratic Party, a lawyer by profession.

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