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Key committee gives green light for restaurant closures

The Constitutional Law Committee was unanimous in its decision on Wednesday.

Autio ruokapaikka.
Hallituksen esitys ravintoloiden väliaikaisesta sulkemisesta voi edetä eduskunnassa. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

The Finnish Parliament's Constitutional Law Committee has given the green light to a government proposal on the temporary closure of restaurants. The committee was unanimous in its decision on Wednesday.

The government announced last week it was planning a three-week closure of pubs, bars and restaurants, starting from 8 March in regions in the community transmission or spreading phase of the epidemic.

The proposal has been dealt with on an exceptionally fast schedule, with just a week allocated to deal with the law on closures and compensation for businesses affected.

The Constitutional Law Committee drew serious attention to the fact that the government cannot set deadlines for the committee to make a decision on the proposal.

The committee had rejected a previous proposal and said that businesses owners should be compensated if they were not allowed to open to customers.

According to the committee, having insufficient time to assess the constitutionality of the proposal makes it very difficult to carry out its task.

However, the committee's job was made easier by the fact that the groundwork had already been done last spring, when the government last closed the restaurants. The process for the current legislation under consideration is very similar.

As with last spring’s statement, the Constitutional Law Committee hopes that restaurant entrepreneurs will be compensated for the losses caused by the closures.

"The starting point is that some kind of compensation for restaurants that have been subject to closures must be drawn up, but there are no decisions on the compensation model or amount," said chair of the committee and former PM Antti Rinne (SDP).

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