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Stronger beer comes to Finland's grocery stores in March

Parliament voted to approve the sale of stronger alcoholic drinks in supermarkets on Friday, lifting the limit to 5.5 percent from the current 4.7 percent.

Oluttölkkejä kaupan hyllyssä.
Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

Finland's parliament on Friday voted to approve the sale of stronger alcohol in grocery stores. From March, supermarkets will be able to sell alcoholic products up to 5.5 percent in alcohol strength, up from the current limit of 4.7 percent.

Stronger drinks will continue to be sold exclusively by Alko, but the new law allows the state-owned alcohol retailer to extend its opening hours to 9 pm on weekdays.

The reform also eases the bureaucratic burden of restaurants, allowing them to remain open till 4 am without a separate application and to serve alcohol on the terrace in the night.

Finally, small breweries will be permitted to sell their products on-site, as long as the alcohol content does not exceed 12 percent.

102 MPs voted for the proposal and 89 against. Seven MPs were not present, including prime minister Juha Sipilä.

After MPs voted in the main chamber of parliament, the proposal was given the final go-ahead by the Grand Committee, which subsequently approved the new law too. 

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