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Restrictions on bars, restaurants further relaxed from Thursday

Alcohol can be served until 12 midnight in the Uusimaa region under the new measures.

Tuomo Viitala ja Veeti Hakala nauttivat kesäpäivästä Helsingin kauppatorilla sijaitsevalla terassilla.
The new measures come into effect from Thursday 24 June. Image: Juha Kivioja / Yle

Coronavirus restrictions regarding the opening hours of bars and restaurants are set to be relaxed or removed completely across most of the country on Thursday, just in time for the Midsummer weekend, according to a statement by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Bars and restaurants in regions that are considered to be in the baseline, or first phase of the epidemic — which includes the entire country apart from the region of Uusimaa — will have restrictions on opening hours removed and customer capacities eased.

According to the rules, customers will still need to be provided seats indoors, but the seating requirement does not apply to restaurant outdoor areas, like terraces.

In Uusimaa, which is considered to be in the second-most serious, 'acceleration' phase, drinks can be served between 7am and midnight, when the new measures come into force from Thursday, and premises can be open from 5am until 1am.

Despite the changes, the ministry reminds businesses to ensure customers continue to observe hygiene guidelines, such as washing hands and keeping safe distances.

Controversial restrictions on events also easing

Restrictions on the cultural and event sector, which have received strong criticism, are also set to be eased, the ministry announced.

The new measure will mean that organisers of events in accelerating regions must ensure that attendees and groups should be able to avoid close contact with each other.

Where participants can be assigned a personal seating or standing space at an indoor venue, audience volumes should not exceed 50 percent of the maximum capacity allowed for the space.

However, if there are more than 25 people at the event, they must be divided into blocks of up to 25 people.

If this is not possible, for example, that separate seating or standing space cannot be allocated, then the maximum number of attendees will be capped at 10.

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