The restaurants in Helsinki and around the country are facing hard times. There may still be ways to enjoy their services and help them to survive.

A protester leaning over a sign that says ‘Wake up government!’ during Faktat tiskiin! (Bring Out the Facts!) demonstration in Helsinki on October 8, 2020. Their goal was to raise awareness of the difficult position the restaurant industry is facing amid changing restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

HELSINKI—A few dozen people working in the restaurant industry, many dressed in suits, most wearing masks, summoned at the Citizens’ Square in front of the Oodi central library on a gloomy afternoon on Thursday.

These restaurant workers have been, some more nervously than others, following the latest government updates on restrictions imposed upon the industry.

Beginning on Sunday, restaurants in the Uusimaa region and other areas are forced to serve the last drop of alcohol at 22:00. The doors have to been shut an hour later.

In a functioning society, health comes first; the coronavirus is spreading rapidly through airborne particles in the air, and we have to do what we can about it.

We also have to do something about the situation many businesses are facing where the restrictions could make earning a living hard. Some may go down under. Others may survive over winter.

Nasima Razmyar, deputy mayor for culture and leisure at the City of Helsinki, who spoke at the protest, urged people to keep using restaurants’ services.

A city like Helsinki where people love food, drinks and company, has a diverse supply of food ranging from Vietnam to Lapland. We have nightclubs that put many in shame in cities like Berlin.

But under the sweep of a virus that around the world keeps putting younger and younger people in hospitals, this may be the right time to stop and think about what we could do differently.

The most effective way to protect oneself while indoors in public spaces is distance. Face masks could be useful, and according to the latest guidelines, patrons are encouraged to wear one. Hygiene could play some part, and most restaurants have no problems taking care of that.

With the weather permitting, terraces could offer somewhat safe surroundings for sips and chit-chat. In cities around the world, there’s an increasing trend of food being served outside under the glow of heat lamps.

What about dancing? In our interview with Bar Loose’s restaurant manager, Joni Bitter, he pointed out that during weekdays there’s plenty of room to party until the early morning without bumping into a single soul.

To boil it down, customers do have options to support their favorite beer gardens, bistros and fine-diners.

Even if the doors shut before midnight, and even if the government keeps changing the rules.