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Bar and restaurant restrictions on the way for 'acceleration stage' regions

Bars will be forced to stop serving alcohol at midnight, under the new restrictions.

Mies koira sylissä ravintolan terassilla Helsingissä.
Bars and restaurants face more restrictions from Thursday in several regions of the country. Image: Juha Kivioja / Yle

Finland is set to reintroduce restrictions on restaurants and bars as case counts climb in some regions.

Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP), the Europe Minister who is deputising for Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) during her holiday, confirmed to Yle that the government plans to step up measures in some regions from Thursday.

"More restaurant restrictions are needed especially in those areas that have moved into the acceleration phase [of the epidemic]," said Tuppurainen.

On Tuesday Finland recorded 461 cases, a record for this summer. There has been a clear increase in transmission since thousands of football fans returned from European Championship football matches in Russia, many of them carrying the Delta variant of Covid.

Closing times shortened for accelerating regions

According to information received by Yle, the new restrictions will apply to all regions in the acceleration stage.

According to Finland's health agency the Institute for Health and Welfare (Finnish acronym THL), those regions are currently Päijät-Häme, Uusimaa, Kymenlaakso and South-west Finland.

On Tuesday Pirkanmaa and Kainuu also announced they were entering the acceleration phase.

Tighter restrictions have been in place in Uusimaa already.

Tuppurainen said that Finland's Covid epidemic situation is already concerning, especially with regard to the Delta variant.

She said that there are no additional restrictions in the pipeline, besides the restaurant rules, but added that the government would closely follow the situation.

The proposed restrictions would force bars and restaurants to close at 1 am and stop serving alcohol at 12 midnight, as well as reducing capacity to 75 percent (for outlets selling food) or 50 percent (for those focused on alcohol sales).

Municipalities and regions are in charge of their own restrictions, as a proposal to give central government more powers in this area has not yet been approved.

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