The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group recommends that the current restrictions on restaurants would remain in effect over Christmas.

A stone man in front of the Helsinki Railway Station is wearing a plaster to remind of the recommendation to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group proposes that government would extend the restrictions on restaurants beyond November 15.

Currently, restaurants in the Helsinki region may serve alcohol between 07:00 and 00:00 and be open between 05:00 and 01:00. The restrictions can be avoided by requiring a coronavirus passport.

The coordination group also requests the government to limit not only the opening hours but also the time when alcohol is served. “With the forthcoming festive season in mind, the restrictions on restaurants serving food should also be extended by reducing the maximum number of seats allowed and narrowing the opening hours,” the coordination group noted in a statement.

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The coordination group bases its requests on the increased need for hospital care for people being treated with symptoms caused by the coronavirus. The burden on specialist care is another reason.

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“The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group assesses that the fluctuating nature of the epidemic, the slowing of the increase in vaccination coverage and the threat of a higher increase in hospital burden call for new targeted and effective containment measures to mitigate the epidemic.”

According to the coordination group, restrictions on the restaurant industry should remain in place over the Christmas season to influence the waves of the pandemic. “And not be lifted in the middle of the festive season.”

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The coronavirus coordination group also encourages restaurants to make full use of the coronavirus passport within the existing restrictions.

Moreover, the group stresses the need to wear a face mask especially for unvaccinated people in all indoor public spaces and for the general population in public transport and indoor spaces where there are many people close to each other.