In its plenary session on Monday, March 1, the government declared that the country is in a state of emergency as referred to in the Emergency Powers Act.

The government is planning to close restaurants beginning on March 8. Takeaway would still be allowed. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

The government, in cooperation with the president, has declared a state of emergency in Finland because of Covid-19.

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In its plenary session on Monday, March 1, the government declared that the country is in a state of emergency as referred to in the Emergency Powers Act. The state of emergency will enter into force immediately and will remain in force until revoked.

The number and incidence of Covid-19 cases in Finland have risen rapidly since the beginning of February this year. “The number of infections caused by new virus variants,” according to the government’s statement, “has clearly increased.”

The government noted that the coronavirus mutations may “place a significant strain on hospital and intensive care capacity if we are unable to bring the number of infections down.”

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) and Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen (the SDP) at the press conference on the state of emergency and the restaurant shutdown at the Government Palace on March 1, 2021. Photograph: Lauri Heikkinen/The Finnish Government

The government restrains from restricting the fundamental rights of citizens, but keeps the option available should the pandemic continue becoming worse.

After declaring the state of emergency, the government submitted to Parliament a proposal to close restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses for three weeks.

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During that time, meals could still be sold to customers for takeaway and delivery. The closure would apply to food and beverage service businesses in areas where the Covid-19 pandemic is in the acceleration or community transmission phase.

Staff restaurants and other restaurants not open to the public would be exempt from the closure.

In a press conference on Monday, the government revealed that it’s working on a support package of 50 million euros for restaurants to compensate for the losses brought by the coronavirus shutdown.